Prepping Quinoa

in Prepping Series

Quinoa is my favorite ‘grain’ ever.  I say ‘grain’ because it’s not actually a grain at all – it’s a seed!


Other fun facts about quinoa:  it’s rich in amino acids, it’s a relative of spinach and Swiss chard, and 1/4 cup of uncooked quinoa contains loads of manganese, magnesium, and iron.


Quinoa is awesome because tastes delicious AND cooks in seven minutes.  Yes – SEVEN MINUTES.  Take that, brown rice.


Here’s how I prep quinoa!


Note:  Some quinoa has not been pre-rinsed; you might rinse it to remove a bitter coating that naturally occurs on the seed.   If necessary, pre-rinse your quinoa by filling a bowl with water and draining the quinoa several times.   I haven’t bought quinoa that hasn’t been pre-rinsed in a long time – even from the bulk bin! 


Step 1:  Bring a pot of water to boil.  It doesn’t matter how much water you use, as long as it covers all the quinoa.  Halfway full in a small pot is fine!


Step 2: Pour in the quinoa.  I usually eat 0.5 a cup (measured dry) when I eat it as part of an entrée.


Step 3:  Cook for seven minutes.  You’ll know it’s ready when the little tails come out!


Step 4: Use a pot top or a spatula to drain off the water.  Place the pot back on the stovetop and turn off the heat.  Give the quinoa a toss and let the remaining heat cook off the remaining liquid.


Step 5:  Munch!


I served my quinoa with some stir-fried broccoli, corn salsa, pistachios, and refried pinto beans.



With some hot tea and dark chocolate for dessert. 


Back to work I go!



  • Erin @ Big Girl Feats June 27, 2011, 3:09 pm

    I have a serious craving for quinoa right now. I’m thinking it will be on the menu with some asparagus tonight!

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin June 27, 2011, 3:14 pm

    I looooove quinoa too! I had no idea it was a relative of spinach though!

  • Carolyn L. June 27, 2011, 3:14 pm

    Does anyone know where can you get quinoa? Specialty stores? I need to look for it! And how would you describe the taste? Like rice?

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 3:15 pm

      You can find it in most grocery stores near the rice. It’s pretty common now, no need to trek to Whole Foods or anything.

      It has a nutty flavor. It’s good!

  • Christine June 27, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Thank you for this! I’ve been wanting to cook with it for a long time (I love eating it), but have been too, ahem, lazy to look up instructions. Can’t wait to make it!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat June 27, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I agree, take that brown rice!! I love eating it the way you do, as well as in salads with a bunch of other veggies, chickpeas or edamame, and homemade vinaigrettes. So so good – you’ve actually triggered a craving! 😉

  • Laura June 27, 2011, 3:17 pm

    I didn’t know it was a relative of spinach either! It freezes well too. I make a big batch and then put some in the freezer for later! Not that it takes too much time to make it fresh everytime…

  • Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life June 27, 2011, 3:18 pm

    I loveeeee quinoa and I eat it all the time as a vegetarian!!!!! The texture and flavor just can’t be beat by boring old rice!

  • Megan @ Life As Megan Knows It June 27, 2011, 3:21 pm

    I have been wondering how to cook quinoa for a while!! Thanks for the info 🙂

    • Anne June 28, 2011, 4:48 am

      You can also use a rice cooker! I think I prefer that method over stove top.

  • Jennie June 27, 2011, 3:26 pm

    I was planning on make a quinoa dish this week. A few times I have made minestrone soup with a jar of spaghetti sauce, 5 cups of water, quinoa, and veggies. It is really good and simple to make. It’s kind of hot for soup right now, so this week I plan on making a salad with quinoa, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans.

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:47 pm

      Oh, that sounds good!

  • Joanna@DrizzleofSunshine June 27, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Thanks for this post Caitlin! I have been wondering about quinoa for so long now but never had the courage to try and buy some (especially with a picky hubby), but I think I’m going to give it a go next week. Do you have any recipes that I could ease my hubby into?

  • Leah @ Why Deprive? June 27, 2011, 3:41 pm

    I love quinoa. The fact that is cooks fast, AND is good for you is amazing. I think I’ve cooked brown rice two times in my life because I have no patience for it.

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) June 27, 2011, 3:43 pm

    Cool! I actually am not sure when quinoa is “done,” because isn’t that white part in the middle mean it’s still not done in the center? I usually err on the side of cooking it longer. Otherwise, I find it… undigestable (if you catch my drift).

  • Amy June 27, 2011, 3:44 pm

    Hmmm, I always cooked it like rice…. Will try this method nect time! 🙂

  • Natalia June 27, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Too ironic that you posted about quinoa–I’ve been debating giving your “quinoa granola” a try for the past few days!

  • Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) June 27, 2011, 3:45 pm

    I love quinoa and how quickly it cooks! I prep mine a little differently, so it’s fun to see how others do it 🙂

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing June 27, 2011, 3:50 pm

    I love quinoa but it NEVER fills me up!

  • Jessica June 27, 2011, 3:52 pm

    When I first made quinoa, which I then pronounced it as kin-oh-wa,haha, I was pleasantly surprised to see the short cooking time! Your combo looks delish, I’ll have to try it next time quinoa is on the mind!

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:47 pm

      Hahah the Husband calls it kin-oh-wa too 🙂

  • Rose and Thistle June 27, 2011, 3:54 pm

    This is a fab post, am also very in love with quinoa for the speed factor but the tip about putting it back on the hob to get rid of the rest of the water is great! I used to use a sieve but haven’t gotten around to buying one for my current apartment and have definitely had a couple of oopsies where some of my quinoa has escaped down the drain! No longer…. 🙂

  • briana June 27, 2011, 3:54 pm

    i love this prepping series! last night, for the first time EVER, i made tofu–using the easy baking method you described in an earlier prepping post. i order tofu a lot at restaurants, but i’ve never made it at home. after baking, i tossed it in a stirfry with with vegetables and a soy sauce, served over rice, and ta-da! dinner. delicious–thank you!

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:47 pm

      Yum! I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 27, 2011, 3:55 pm

    Quinoa is so easy to cook, isn’t it! And I was scared to cook with it til maybe 7 years or so ago. I thought it was so complicated…but it’s not. Bonus! 🙂

  • Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet June 27, 2011, 3:59 pm

    <3 Quinoa! Especially in salads. And thanks for reminding me! I'll be grabbing some dark chocolate as soon as I click submit.

  • Johanna B June 27, 2011, 3:59 pm

    You must check out my favorite cookbook called Quinoa 365. It’s got some great ideas.

  • khar June 27, 2011, 4:06 pm

    I really like quinoa but am troubled that its popularity has led to shortages in Bolivia where the people who have eaten it for hundreds of years can no longer afford it. I wonder if it can be grown in other places.

    • M June 27, 2011, 8:01 pm

      I never knew this!
      Thank you for sharing (though
      sad to find out).
      I just googled some news stories about
      this .
      Wonder what can we do to help?

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:46 pm

      Hi Khar! Other people linked to a good NYT article about this very topic. Thanks for spread the word about this.

  • Avery June 27, 2011, 4:10 pm

    So glad you posted this! I literally strayed away from making quinoa just last night because I didn’t feel like sitting around for 20-something minutes I thought it took to cook it! It usually takes me longer, but I’ve been cooking it on low and covering it. Do you boil it for 7 minutes??

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:45 pm

      Yup, full boil for 7 minutes.

  • Cyclist Kate June 27, 2011, 4:10 pm

    I love quinoa, though I make it the “classic” (though what is classic, anyway?!) way, two parts water to one part grain, etc.

    I wonder, though, do you ever rinse your quinoa? I know some brands come pre-rinsed, but if it isn’t rinsed it has those saponins that can cause gastro disturbance and taste terrible (not that I know from personal experience…)

  • Yolie @ Practising Wellness June 27, 2011, 4:19 pm

    This is a great and helpful post, thanks Caitlin! I’ve bookmarked it for future use 🙂 I had no idea quinoa only takes 7 minutes to cook – for some reason I thought it took much longer, about 20 minutes, which is why I’ve never ever cooked it. But now I know better, and I’m excited to make some asap, lol! And your meal looks awesomesauce 😉 xyx

  • Errign June 27, 2011, 4:22 pm

    I really like to add quinoa to things and when I make it when I am home, my dad likes to ask “what the little things that look like sperm are” hahaha.

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen June 27, 2011, 4:28 pm

    I love quinoa, in fact I am eating a leftover quinoa, mango salad as I read this 🙂

  • Caroline @ The G -Spot June 27, 2011, 4:33 pm

    I adore quinoa — wonderful gluten-free “grain”! Nice post! 🙂

  • Angela June 27, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I think I need to try a different brand of quinoa as I’ve tried it twice and just couldn’t eat it unless it was well mixed with a sauce or something with a stronger flavour. Such a shame as I love all things grain – real and fake!

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:43 pm

      It is definitely a light and nutty flavor.

  • Susan June 27, 2011, 4:49 pm

    Do you buy pre-rinsed quinoa? My first step is to rinse it.

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:44 pm

      I added this to the post 🙂

      • Tracy June 28, 2011, 6:26 pm

        How do you know if it’s pre-rinsed?

        • Caitlin June 28, 2011, 6:29 pm

          Eat some raw, see if it’s bitter? 🙂

  • Mary June 27, 2011, 4:55 pm

    I have had quinoa in my cabinet for almost a year and I was totally clueless on what to do with it. Thanks!

  • Savannah (Sweet and Savvy) June 27, 2011, 5:00 pm

    I love quinoa! 🙂 It is the perfect go to meal. You can literally cook it with anything – sweet or savory!

  • Sarah June 27, 2011, 5:03 pm

    I love it so much and it even forgives me for calling it a grain instead of a seed. We are close like that.

  • Jen @ Light Enough to Travel June 27, 2011, 5:07 pm

    Quinoa is amazing. I’ve even had it baked into muffins, and it was pretty darn tasty!

  • Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count June 27, 2011, 5:18 pm

    This sounds so good! I haven’t cooked quinoa in a while. I’ve never done the trick of leaving it in the hot pan for the water to evaporate. Good idea. It’s so high in protein which is a plus for me since my husband thinks I shouldn’t be vegetarian because he thinks I’m not getting enough protein. I’ve started tracking my protein grams to prove him wrong!

  • Katherine June 27, 2011, 5:33 pm

    I always want to try things like this, but then I remember I hate putting for-thought into my food. Lol 😛 Looks amazing though.

  • Alett June 27, 2011, 5:45 pm

    I know this is silly but quinoa always makes me smile because those little “tails” are so darn cute! By the way there’s a great recipe on Epicurious for quinoa that has 3 different mushrooms in it, white wine, thyme (I think) and parmesan cheese (do you eat cheese? I’m sure you could skip if not). I will email the recipe tomorrow. cheerio!

  • Alett June 27, 2011, 5:47 pm
    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:43 pm

      Thanks for this recipe link, Alett!

  • Alett June 27, 2011, 5:48 pm

    easier to find THAN I thought not “then” I thought…sorry.

  • monicanelsonfitness June 27, 2011, 5:51 pm

    yummy! I am also on a quinoa kick all day, everyday, well it feels like it anyways. 🙂

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) June 27, 2011, 6:09 pm


  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) June 27, 2011, 6:10 pm

    I love quinoa, especially because Costco sells organic quinoa for 10 bucks. It’s a pretty big bag too!

  • Molly @ RDexposed June 27, 2011, 6:30 pm

    Perfect timing! I’m either making this tonight or tomorrow night!

  • Gammy June 27, 2011, 6:31 pm

    Hey Caitlin (and other readers),

    Appreciate all your healthy living posts. But I wonder if you are aware that the latest quinoa craze in the US has lead to drastic shortages of the seed, which is the main staple for lots of poor villagers in south america. This is a serious problem for these villagers, so pls be considerate and think twice before purchasing at the time being.

    You can find a lot more on the topic if you look around, but for now, here’s how the NYTimes covered it recently:

    Thanks for being considerate eaters!!

    • Ally June 27, 2011, 8:01 pm

      I’m glad someone posted this… I’m suprised I haven’t seen any healthy living bloggers mention this issue yet (that I’ve seen) but with the huge popularity of quinoa on blogs this is something that definitly needs to be taken into consideration.

      • Ally June 27, 2011, 8:03 pm


      • M June 27, 2011, 8:04 pm

        This is really sad to find out.
        Something should be done.
        What and how?
        (not buy quinoa?)

        • briana June 27, 2011, 8:19 pm

          Thanks for mentioning this. I hadn’t heard, and I think it’s an important thing for people to be aware of.

    • emily June 27, 2011, 9:01 pm

      I was going to post that same link. I ruined quinoa for all of my friends (who had just discovered how good it was!); I felt terrible but it’s better to be informed. We only buy quinoa infrequently now, and always Fair Trade.

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:42 pm

      Wow, really interesting link. I think it’s time to look for trade trade quinoa!

  • Krystina (Organically Me) June 27, 2011, 6:32 pm

    I cook it a totally different way. I only use double the liquid to quinoa (2:1 ratio) and cook it for 15-20 minutes, or until all the water is aborbed. That’s much easier than draining the excess water, IMO.

  • Jen June 27, 2011, 6:36 pm

    I love quinoa! I often take it for lunch mixed with chickpeas, veggies & a dressing of olive oil with lemon & garlic…keeps me full all afternoon. Even the husband – who is not a fan of some of the “weird” (as he calls it) foods I eat likes it in turkey quinoa meatloaf (the recipe’s on Allrecipes for my fellow meat eaters – super easy to make and sooo filling).

    • CaitlinHTP June 27, 2011, 9:41 pm

      Hehe quinoa isn’t weird! Okay, maybe it’s a little weird for the average American.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) June 27, 2011, 6:38 pm

    Hands down, it’s my favorite too! I LOVE it! Not only is it easy to cook, it’s good for you and it tastes delicious! Great meal Caitlin!

  • Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty June 27, 2011, 6:42 pm

    Funny, I had a discussion with someone yesterday about the fact that quinoa is a seed!!

    This sounds great!

  • Tessa @ Amazing Asset June 27, 2011, 6:44 pm

    I really appreciate this post! I have made quinoa before, but it never turns out quite fluffy enough and the texture just seems a bit off. Thanks for these tips m’dear 🙂

  • Healthy Party Girl June 27, 2011, 7:13 pm

    I love quinoa! Because of my Vegan diet I like to make sure I’m getting enough protein and quinoa is a great way to do it. We have red quinoa varieties as well and I like to make quinoa porridge with it, or do the same as you, Caitlin, and use in once of brown rice. I think the little tails are so cute!

  • mi-an d. June 27, 2011, 7:16 pm

    i love quinoa as well!!! i use it on everything…salads, stir fries, topped with marinara sauce, and even for bfast..with almond milk and almond butter sweetened with agave…so yummy and filling!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit June 27, 2011, 7:32 pm

    I love quinoa too! So flavorful and so versatile 🙂 Your dinner looks great!

  • Natalie @fitjamericangirl June 27, 2011, 7:59 pm

    OMG, I’m totally nutz about quinoa. I love it savory, sweet, in veggie burgers. It is soooooo goood.

  • katie @ KatieDid June 27, 2011, 8:43 pm

    I used to eat that salsa straight out of the jar. SO good. I’m personally on a millet kick lately, also GF! Good alternative considering the shortage I was just reading about a few comments up.

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife June 27, 2011, 8:43 pm

    I LOVE quinoa!!! Such a great ‘grain’ 🙂

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey June 27, 2011, 8:56 pm

    I just ate quinoa tonight! I usually let it cook longer than they say to cook it – I let mine go for 30 minutes todya. It gets nice and plump!

    And ps – I don’t rinse mine. Whoops.

  • Baking 'n' Books June 27, 2011, 8:59 pm

    Is this your lunch or dinner?

    Tea and chocolate – is there nothing better? Sigh. It warms my heart.

    (Even better – tea melted in chocolate. I also mix half hot chocolate/half tea – like – all the time) 😉

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin June 27, 2011, 9:22 pm

    I always measure out the exact amount of water to use… but I like your method better because it eliminates that step! 😛

  • Kayla @ Sprouty Buns June 27, 2011, 9:47 pm

    I am a confessed quinoa addict! I guess there are worse things 🙂 Quinoa is a true super food: delicious, packed with nutrients and quick cooking! WIN!

    I want to try to make a quinoa porridge/cereal for breakfast, have you ever tried?

  • Jackie @ That Deep Breath June 27, 2011, 10:32 pm

    I’ve never had quinoa…its up next on my list!! I’ve seen some great recipes using it. Seems like you can use it so many different ways!

  • Laura @ Cookies vs. Carrots June 27, 2011, 10:46 pm

    Yum! I love quinoa too!

  • Heather @ Alis Grave Nil June 27, 2011, 11:14 pm

    Quinoa is the schizz.

  • Jeanelle @ Glocal Girl June 28, 2011, 12:46 am

    Quinoa looks too easy, I always thought it was harder to make? I’m going to try this asap because for some reason it’s so hard to find some of these special ingredients readily in Amsterdam, but quinoa is all over the place!

  • Khushboo June 28, 2011, 1:13 am

    7 minutes??? No wonder I can never get it right- quinoa for me always takes 15+ minutes! Ok I’m trying your method: THANK YOU!

  • Aine @ Something to Chew Over June 28, 2011, 5:45 am

    Quinoa used to be hard to find but it seems like it’s everywhere now! Have you ever tried the red version? It doesn’t taste that different but it looks great.

    I also feel like it might be higher in antioxidant goodness because of the colour but that mightn’t be true 🙂

    • Katherina @ Zephyr Runs June 28, 2011, 3:14 pm

      I mix my red and gold quinoa for a diverse looking dish 🙂 Black quinoa is fancy and tastes similar to the nutty red seed!

  • Ben June 28, 2011, 8:23 am

    Maybe this feels like “how to boil water 101” but these blogs have been helpful to encourage me to cook with different grains. I cook with kasha (buckwheat) all the time because I grew up with it in my Polish household but I need to expand to some of these other grains. Great stuff Caitlin.

    • Caitlin June 28, 2011, 10:51 am

      Thanks Ben 🙂 Happy boiling!

  • Marissa June 28, 2011, 10:12 am

    I made quinoa last night! Hah, my little 9 year old brother cleared his plate; I told him it was “just a different kind of rice” and he was none the wiser! Usually he won’t touch anything remotely healthy.

  • Amber K June 28, 2011, 12:52 pm

    Wow, I’m so glad someone linked to the new york times article, I had no idea! I have found that my stomach can’t quite digest quinoa in addition to gluten, which is a HUGE bummer because I love it! I swear, my brain is going to have a nice long chat with my stomach. It needs to get with the program.

  • Katherina @ Zephyr Runs June 28, 2011, 3:13 pm

    Real Simple just declared quinoa their readers most popular grain and is asking for recipes with 3 ingredients – I found it really hard! Possibly some steamed greens, quinoa and beans maybe but I like to season my quinoa!
    That’s really depressing that its popularity is creating a problem for native consumers… actually that’s really depressing. I hadn’t heard that.

  • Audrey June 29, 2011, 12:25 am

    After reading about the effects of the US quinoa craze, I don’t know if I will buy quinoa in the future, but I do have some in the house that I have never cooked. I was wondering, how much does 1/2 cup of incooked quinoa make once cooked? Thanks 🙂

    • Caitlin June 29, 2011, 11:00 am

      Never measured it but it’s prob over a cup.

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