Quinoa served alongside vegan Indian food.

Quinoa: Nutrition Info, Serving Ideas, and Cooking Directions

Quinoa (pronounced: KEEN-Wah) is a vegan favorite that’s rich in protein and other nutrients. Along with buckwheat and amaranth, quinoa is considered a pseudocereal (or pseudograin.) Pseudocereals are botanically classified as seeds even though you can cook them exactly like grain products. In much the same way, peppers and squash are actually fruits but are more sensibly treated as vegetables when cooking.

Nutritional Qualities

Popular among natural foods enthusiasts, quinoa has an excellent nutritional profile, plenty of fiber, plus it’s gluten-free. It takes much less water than rice to grow, plus you don’t have rice’s arsenic risks to worry about. On top of that it requires only half the cooking time as brown rice, plus it’s substantially more nutritious. So if you serve rice often, quinoa offers a delicious, convenient, and nutrient-rich change of pace.

Quinoa is one of the best vegan sources of protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids required by the human body. It’s also rich in minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iron.

Ideas for Serving Quinoa

Nearly any dish that is good with rice will also work well with quinoa.

It adds a nutty flavor, and its substantial protein content will keep you from feeling hungry an hour later.


vegan quinoa
Cook up some quinoa, mix in some finely-chopped vegetables, and you’ve got yourself a protein-rich quinoa salad.

Purchasing Quinoa

Farmers grow most of the world’s quinoa in the mountains of South America. A high percentage of quinoa is organically grown. In addition to white or tan (the most common varieties) quinoa is available in red, tri-color, and black. All colors cook up and taste the same, and the flavor and nutrient profiles don’t meaningfully differ.

Most natural food stores carry at least one variety of quinoa in their bulk sections. Additionally, Amazon.com offers good prices on organically grown quinoa:

Natural food companies offer a variety of pastas, breakfast cereals, and chips made with quinoa.

How to Cook Quinoa

Consider using a color of quinoa to contrast with the color of whatever meal it accompanies. For instance, red kidney beans served over tan quinoa will look more appealing than if you served them over red quinoa.

Quinoa is naturally coated with a bitter substance to protect against insects, so always use a fine strainer to rinse your quinoa prior to cooking.

Preparation couldn’t be simpler: measure out 1 part quinoa to 1.75 parts water. Inspect for pebbles and foreign objects, then thoroughly rinse it in a fine strainer. Put the water in a pot and bring to a boil, then add the quinoa and your favorite seasonings (Italian-style dried herbs work well.) If you wish, you can simultaneously also add some finely-chopped potatoes or carrots prior to cooking. Reduce heat to low and cover. Fifteen minutes later you’ll have a pot of perfectly-cooked quinoa. Fluff with a fork before serving.

For further reading: please see our rice, protein, and beans pages.
FTC: We use income-earning Amazon.com affiliate links. More.

Newsletter Signup

Our newsletter is sent out irregularly and infrequently, because we only want to hit your inbox when we’ve got something compelling to share.