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Top 5 Ways to Use Quinoa

Sharon Palmer

Learn all about quinoa, from its top nutrition benefits to how to use it in your kitchen.

Quinoa may seem like the latest hot food trend, but it actually dates back 5,000 years, when it became an important staple crop and sacred food for the ancient Incans, who called quinoa the “mother grain.” I saw it growing everywhere when I visited Peru a few years ago.

Quinoa growing in the Sacred Valley, Peru

This tiny whole grain contains a cache of important nutrients: 4 grams of high-quality protein (it is one of the few plant foods that provides a good balance of all of the essential amino acids your body needs in a dietary source), 5 grams of fiber, as well as several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and folate), iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper—all for 111 calories per one-half cup cooked quinoa.

Some studies document quinoa’s potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and its role in protecting against diabetes and increasing satiety. It’s also great that quinoa is a gluten-free grain, making it a suitable, nutrient-rich alternative for people who must avoid gluten because of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Quinoa growing in garden

Quinoa is so versatile, you can use it in everything from porridge and breads to soups and salads—and everything in between. It also comes in beautiful shades of ivory, red, and black, and cooks up in just 15 minutes. Check out My 5 Favorite Ways to Cook with Quinoa below, and try this recipe for easy 4-Way Meal Prep: Roasted Spiced Vegetables, Chickpeas and Quinoa to get your started. Watch the video I created for this recipe with iHerb here.

Top 5 Ways to Use Quinoa

Red Quinoa Berry Breakfast Bowl

1. Breakfast with Quinoa. You don’t have to limit your selections of porridge to only steel cut oats. Use quinoa for a stunning hot cereal, topped with nuts, seeds, and fruit. Check out this recipe for Red Quinoa Berry Breakfast Bowl.

Mediterranean Edamame Quinoa Power Bowl

2. Create a Grain Bowl. Use quinoa as the foundation for your next power bowl. Just add it to the bottom of your bowl, and then top it with a plant protein, like beans or tofu, leafy greens, your favorite veggies, and a flavorful topping.

Super Acai Berry Bowl

3. Arrange an Acai Bowl. I love to add quinoa to my acai or power bowls, for a healthy, whole grain addition. Just mix together pureed acai with cooked quinoa, and top with fruits, nuts, seeds, and coconut. Check out my recipe and video for Berry Quinoa Power Bowl here.

Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad

4. Toss a Great Salad. I absolutely love featuring quinoa in hearty salads, such as my Southwestern Black Bean, Quinoa and Mango Salad, Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad, and Quinoa Waldorf Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette.

4-Way Meal Prep: Roasted Spice Vegetables, Chickpeas and Quinoa

5. Do Meal Prep with Quinoa. Cooking up in only 15 minutes, quinoa is the perfect whole grain addition to your meal prep routine. Check out my 4-Way Meal Prep: Roasted Spiced Vegetables, Chickpeas and Quinoa for inspiration.

For other guides on cooking with plants, check out some of my favorites:

Top 5 Ways to Use Pumpkin Seeds
Top 5 Ways to Use Brown Rice
Top 5 Ways to Use Blackberries

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