Wondering what quinoa grain is, how to make it, and why it’s good for you? You’re not the only one! Keep reading to learn all this and more. We’ve got you covered with cooking instructions, gluten free recipes, and more. Pretty soon, this gluten free grain will be a staple in your diet!
Part 8 of our Gluten Free Grains Month, this blog is part of our Quinoa series in which we teach you what it is, how to use it, and more to spread knowledge about gluten free grains and help make it easier to follow a gluten free diet without missing out on delicious meals!
Crazy About Quinoa
Is it just us, or does quinoa seem to be everywhere the last few years? Whether you’re scanning a magazine, searching on Pinterest, or scrolling through Instagram, every other recipe uses quinoa. We’re not complaining, though! In fact, we’re celebrating, because this whole grain has been a staple in our team’s diets for years. Not only is it tasty, but it’s super good for you and versatile, too! Whether you’re making a quick breakfast bowl, light salad for lunch, or comforting skillet dinner, the quinoa grain is an easy gluten free option.
Quinoa Grain – What Is It and Where Does It Come From?!
Pronounced “keen-waa”, quinoa is considered to be an ancient grain, because it has remained largely unchanged in the way it is prepared and consumed for thousands of years. In fact, it has been cultivated for 5,000 years now and was known as “the mother of all grains” to the native Incas.
But is it Really a Grain?
Did You Know?! Although often referred to as a grain or “pseudo-grain” because it is prepared and eaten as such, quinoa is actually a seed! That said, it’s still considered a whole grain because the entire seed is intact when consumed. You can even mill it or turn it into flour just like oat flour or buckwheat flour!
Plant Power! Quinoa Health Benefits
Quinoa has become a very popular health food and for good reason! A great source of plant-based protein, quinoa grain contains all nine essential amino acids, which our bodies need but cannot make themselves.
Plus, it’s gluten free and safe for those with Celiac disease and gluten intolerances. (Source) Not to mention, quinoa is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals including:
- Vitamin B1
- And even provides a good dose of fatty acids!
How to Cook Quinoa (4 Ways!) + Video
A common message we hear is that readers don’t eat quinoa, because they’re not quite sure how to make it. So, we’re giving you 4 easy ways to cook this gluten free grain in a rice cooker, in a slow cooker, on the stovetop, or with an Instant Pot! No matter which method you choose, it couldn’t be any simpler or more delicious!
Tips & Tricks
Before we get started, we thought we’d share a few of our best tips and tricks for foolproof quinoa!
- If not using pre-rinsed quinoa, be sure to rinse it before cooking to remove the bitter saponins found on the grain’s coating.
- Use twice as much water as quinoa. So, for every one cup of quinoa, you’ll need two cups of water.
- Cover the pot. Be sure to cook the quinoa uncovered. Then, when you’re letting it rest, cover your pot with a lid to allow the quinoa to pop open, creating an extra fluffy texture!
- Allow the quinoa to sit for 5 minutes, and fluff it with a fork before serving.
- Use broth instead of water for even more savory flavor!
- Add salt to the water. This helps add flavor to your quinoa.
How to Cook Quinoa on the Stove Top
Water Ratio: 1:2 – For every 1 cup of quinoa, you’ll need 2 cups of water
- Bring the quinoa and water to a boil before reducing it to a simmer.
- Cook, uncovered until all of the water is absorbed.
- Remove from the heat, cover, and rest for 5 minutes.
How to Cook Quinoa in the Instant Pot
Water Ratio: 1:1.5 – For every 1 cup of quinoa, you’ll need 1.5 cups of water.
- Combine the quinoa and water.
- Pressure cook for 1 minute.
- Slow release for 5-7 minutes.
How to Cook Quinoa in the Rice Cooker
Water Ratio: 1:2 – For every 1 cup of quinoa, you’ll need 2 cups of water.
- Add quinoa and water to the rice cooker.
- Cook, and fluff with a fork when finished.
How to Cook Quinoa in the Slow Cooker
- Add ingredients.
- Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Pro-Tip: For extra fluffy texture, fluffy the quinoa grain with a fork a few times while cooking!
How to Use Quinoa
One of the great things about quinoa is how versatile it is to serve! Make it sweet or savory, serve it as a side, use it in baked goods, and more! Some of our favorite ways to use quinoa include:
Yes, quinoa is great for meal prep! Store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or, keep it in the freezer for 8-10 months.
Cooked quinoa grain has an earthy flavor that can be described as tasting similar to nutty rice.
Let us first clarify that what is considered to be healthy or better for you varies from person to person. What is best for one may not be great for another. So, it’s important to take your individual needs and preferences into consideration. However, generally speaking, quinoa has more protein, fiber, and nutrients than white rice, making it a wholesome gluten free option.
Do you have any other quinoa questions? Let us know in the comments below!