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Easy & Healthy Quinoa Recipes

Updated on August 2, 2016

I had my first taste of quinoa about a year ago. The nutrition facts had impressed me. Protein, iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins E & B are just some of the nutrients packed inside these little seeds. Just one cup provides 3 grams of dietary fiber.

But honestly, the grainy was a bit intense for me at first. I wasn't sure I could learn to like it. It could be part of a healthy eating plan, but could I enjoy it?

I decided to try using quinoa for breakfast, lunch and dinner to see how versatile it could be. And in the process, I discovered how well it combines with compliments other foods. I also gained an appreciation of quinoa's flavor, ultimately finding health and deliciousness in one food.

Here is the basic recipe, plus the three ways I prepared it - they might give you some new ideas.

Cooked quinoa
Cooked quinoa | Source

Basic Quinoa Recipe

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • salt, if desired

  1. Rinse and drain quinoa - this rids the kernels of saponin, a natural protective coating that can make the flavor bitter.
  2. Pour the water into a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, then bring down to simmer about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the kernels are fully cooked (they’ll have a translucent look.)

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My First Impressions Of Quinoa

My first taste of quinoa was alongside some baked cod on my dinner plate. My husband and son were trying it out with me, so some extra bread sat nearby as backup. I didn't end up needing it - while the flavor was strong, I vould actually taste how good it was for me.

The texture reminded me of couscous, but it was heartier. In fact, a half-cup serving of quinoa filled me up as much as a larger portion of rice. This version, straightforward and simple, was a good start.

And speaking of being versatile, my daughter got creative with some as a snack later on. Hers was warmed up with cheese and salsa on top.

Meal #1: Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa pilaf
Quinoa pilaf | Source


  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, sliced
  • 1 cup quiinoa (any kind), uncooked
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup each carrots, green pepper, or other favorite veggies


  1. Saute onions in the oil on low heat stirring frequently until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and almonds for about 30 seconds.
  2. Pour in the broth and turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa and any vegetables.
  3. Let simmer for about 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Add pepper and salt to taste.

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Meal #2: Breakfast Cereal

Quinoa porridge
Quinoa porridge | Source

The next morning I pulled out the leftovers, hoping to use quinoa for breakfast as I would oatmeal. In this case, I topped it with some sliced canned peaches I had handy, a few walnuts, a bit of milk, and a sprinkle of cinnamon to finish. About 30 seconds in the microwave warmed it up nicely.

Here’s how to make a morning porridge from scratch: cook 1/2 cup of quinoa in 1 cup of milk instead of water - it gives the cereal a thicker consistency. As it simmers, add cinnamon or sweeteners, then top with your favorite breakfast fruit. Try goodies like coconut, almonds or even chocolate shavings as an extra treat.

Meal #3: Spanish Black Bean & Quinoa

Spanish black bean and quinoa
Spanish black bean and quinoa | Source

Other Ideas for Quinoa Combinations

Chinese: water chestnuts, sesame seeds, celery, soy sauce, ginger

Indian: cashews, golden raisins, curry, cinnamon, cardamom

Mediterranean: grape tomatoes, feta cheese, lemon juice, basil

I decided to use the last bit of quinoa in a quick lunch. Inspired by my daughter’s vegetarian diet, I came up with a black bean and veggie concoction. It only took a few minutes to prep and make.


  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup green pepper and black olives, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can of tomatoes with juice
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained (reserve 1 tbsp juice) and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Pepper and salt to taste


  1. Saute the onions in the oil until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add the peppers,olives and garlic for 1 minute to warm.
  2. Add the tomatoes and beans withreserved juice, cumin and oregano. Turn the heat up to medium, and let themixture cook down for about 5 minutes.
  3. Take off the heat, mix in the quinoa, and let it sit for a minute before serving.


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    • Heather63 profile image

      Heather Adams 6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you for the encouragement! It was fun to discover a new food that can do so much.

    • gailalovesbijou profile image

      gailalovesbijou 6 years ago from Wyomissing, PA

      You have inspired me to try new and interesting ways to prepare this box of quinoa I have in my pantry. I like it plain, but your recipes sound deliciously better than plain. I'm also looking to pack as much nutrition as possible into every meal. Nice photos too. Voted up, useful, interesting, and bookmarked. Thank you! Great hub!

    • Heather63 profile image

      Heather Adams 6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      The porridge really feels like a "power breakfast" - enjoy!

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 6 years ago from Europe

      thanks for this. I have never used quinoa and that breakfast recipe sounds really good. voted up.