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Cooking with Quinoa

What the heck is quinoa anyway? As one of those “really good for you” whole grains, quinoa packs a quite a punch. With the most complete nutrition and highest protein content of any grain, quinoa is an ideal food for vegetarians and vegans, a good source of vitamins and minerals – iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, amino acids, and fiber.

In writing this post, I tried to remember one instance of my childhood where a “whole grain” actually crossed my lips and….well I could not. But today, it is all about brown rice pasta, millet, barley, and quinoa and I feel horribly guilty when I eat WHITE pasta or WHITE potatoes.

The first time I heard of millet – my whole grain of choice – was in the beautiful form of a muffin – not a bad way to get to know a new grain. My husband (then boyfriend) bought a couple of millet muffins from Metropolitan bakery for us and it was one of the best muffins I’ve ever had. Everything is new and exciting during that get to know each other phase, but this muffin was truly one-of-a-kind and still is.

Ryan rarely requests any specific food or meals and is typically happy with whatever I make. But he is gearing up for a half marathon this Sunday so he asked me if I could make some quinoa. So quinoa it was. Note: when I make quinoa or any grain I typically make a lot of it and need to find alternative uses for it throughout the week so be sure to scroll down to the Breakfast Quinoa recipe below as well. If you don’t like quinoa, you can swap this out for brown rice, millet or barley as well.

How to Cook Quinoa

When I make quinoa, I make a lot if it so I can use it for a variety of dishes throughout the week. The Savvy Vegetarian website ( offers some great tips and recipes for cooking quinoa, but you certainly don’t need to be a vegetarian to introduce a new grain into your cooking.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings of quinoa. You’ll need a two-quart pot with a lid and a fine mesh strainer.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 ½ cups cold water
  • ½ tsp salt


Soak the quinoa for 15 minutes. This will help it cook evenly. Drain with a strainer and transfer to the cooking pot with water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover with a firm lid and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.

Tempeh Veggie Stir Fry Over Quinoa

On Tuesday, I made the first of several quinoa-based meals for the week. Last night I used the leftover quinoa to make a salad of grains, avocado, tomatoes, shallots, cilantro and mango with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar. Great side dish.


  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Tb ginger
  • 3 Tb reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tb Asian garlic chili sauce
  • 3 Tb orange juice
  • 1 Tb sesame oil
  • 8 oz. tempeh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3-4 medium sized mushrooms
  • Almonds or cashews (if you like)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa


  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the broth, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic-chili sauce and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in an extra-large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. (Reduce the heat if the oil begins to smoke.)
  3. Stir-fry the tempeh and onion for 5 minutes or until the tempeh is lightly browned.
  4. Add the rest of the vegetables and stir-fry for 2 minutes. 
  5. Add the broth mixture and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute, or until vegetables are tender-crisp.
  6. Serve over steamed quinoa.

Breakfast Quinoa

This simple quinoa breakfast cereal takes about 15 minutes to prepare. You can make a hearty cereal by adding almonds, walnuts or pumpkins to one cup of cooked quinoa along with the following: raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries, blueberries, or figs; ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp cinnamon; 1 cup soy milk; and/or 1 tb maple syrup or agave nectar. Simply combine all ingredients in saucepan, heat on medium low until the quinoa has soaked up the liquid and the dried fruit has plumped up. You may want to add more milk if you like this a bit creamier.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Danielle Wakely #

    Always was curious about this, now I will def try. Thanks Cher!!

    January 21, 2010
  2. tanya #

    Quinoa rules.

    January 26, 2010
  3. Sabra #

    I made quinoa for the first time last weekend (stuffed acorn squash). I will definitely cook with it again.

    January 30, 2010

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