What Is Quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah") is a seed that originated in the Andes Mountains of South America. Though it has been cultivated for thousands of years, quinoa has only recently become popular in the U.S. due to its outstanding health benefits.

There are three main types of quinoa: red, white and black. White quinoa is the most common and, though all three are very similar and can be used interchangeably, it is the mildest of the three. Red and black quinoa have a flavor that is slightly more bold and crunchy.

white bowl of quinoa seeds

How To Cook Quinoa

Cooking any color of quinoa is a simple process. All you need is a cup of the seeds, water, and salt.

  • Place 1 cup of quinoa seeds into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cool water for 2 minutes
  • Place the quinoa in a saucepan. Add 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes, covered
  • Remove from heat and let stand, still covered, for 5 minutes
  • Stir and serve

To add a bit more flavor to your quinoa, you can boil it in vegetable or chicken broth using the same process.

brown bowl of cooked quinoa

What Does Quinoa Taste Like?

In a word, bland. The flavor of quinoa is very mild and when served on its own it won't exactly be delicious. This is where you can get creative to add more flavor. Here are some simple ways to cook quinoa that will taste delicious:

Make It Like Oatmeal

Though quinoa is technically a seed, you can use it like a grain. This breakfast bowl is a tasty way to incorporate quinoa into your morning. Just cook the seeds with almond milk and cinnamon sticks, then add in nuts and fruit.

quinoa in a white bowl with strawberries and bananas
Olga Miltsova/Shutterstock

Put It In A Power Salad

Quinoa are known as a "superfood" because it is nutrient-rich and promotes your health. This makes it terrific additives for power salads. There are numerous recipes to choose from, from strawberry salads to ones loaded with kale and avocado sauce.

quinoa in a salad with spinach and vegetables

Add It To Veggie Soup

Adding quinoa into a soup lets the seeds really soak with all the other flavors and completely eliminate the bland taste. This recipe is light but filling and incredibly healthy.

quinoa in vegetable soup in a bright bowl
Ildi Papp/Shutterstock

Bake It Into A Casserole

Using quinoa as a base in a casserole with broccoli and cheese not only adds flavor to the seeds, but is incredibly hardy and has a unique texture.

quinoa casserole in a brown dish

What Are The Health Benefits of Quinoa?

As mentioned earlier, quinoa is a superfood -- it's filled with nutrients, high in protein, gluten-free and is one of the only plants that contain all nine essential amino acids. One cup of quinoa contains 222 calories, 39 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fat.

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