Quinoa FAQs

Where can I buy quinoa?

You should be able to find quinoa in most major supermarkets across North America. It is usually found near the rice or couscous. Different colors (red, white, black) and types (flakes, flour, seeds) are occasionally kept in the specialty section of the grocery store. If you can’t find it, be sure to ask because it may be hiding. Quinoa can also be found in most natural food stores and bulk food stores. It is generally easier to find than you might think.

I have just started using quinoa. What type of recipe should I start with?

The best choice for starting out cooking with quinoa is to use quinoa seeds (rather than flakes or flour). Quinoa seeds are generally the least expensive and will introduce you to the flavor of quinoa.

Should you always eat quinoa cooked? Are there any advantages to eating it uncooked?

If you are consuming uncooked quinoa seeds, you can certainly benefit from all of the nutrients, provided that the seeds are cracked or partially ground. This is because the uncooked seed has a shell that protects it. During cooking, this shell will soften and break open, but if this shell is still intact when you swallow it, the quinoa seed will simply pass through your body without being digested and without providing you with any of its fabulous nutritional benefits.

When you add quinoa to a recipe, should you cook it first?

Not necessarily. If the recipe has sufficient liquid and cooking time, such as chili, then you would add raw (uncooked) quinoa. If the dish requires the quinoa to be cooked separately first, the recipes in our books will tell you in the instructions.

Quinoa seeds can sometimes taste bitter. How can I fix this?

If you are noticing bitterness, thoroughly rinse your quinoa before you cook it. We provide complete instructions on how to do this in our books. Also, if you are extremely sensitive to bitterness caused by the saponin of regular quinoa, you may want to try “baby quinoa” instead. It is saponin-free!

Do I have to rinse quinoa seeds?

No, quinoa seeds do not require rinsing. Any saponin that remains on the seeds has no negative effects on the body. In fact, we do not rinse our quinoa at all. Usually, most traces of bitterness are already rinsed off after the seeds are processed or washed. Rinsing quinoa is a personal preference.

I like the flavor of cooked quinoa but my kids do not like it. How can I get them to eat it?

Some people don’t like the slight bitter flavor in some quinoa, so try rinsing your quinoa thoroughly before cooking with it. Soups, stews, puddings and especially recipes where quinoa is puréed are good ways to introduce quinoa to children.

I tried to sprout quinoa but nothing happened. Why not?

Occasionally, quinoa seeds just won’t sprout. This can be because they are old or because of the way they have been handled. We suggest you buy a different brand or purchase seeds from a different store and simply try, try again.

I overcooked my quinoa. What can I do with it?

Don’t toss it out! Overcooked or extra-fluffy quinoa is perfect for many recipes. It works great in blender recipes, added to smoothies or cake batters, in scrambled eggs, or added to your breakfast cereals or salads during the week. It is fantastic blended into a thick and creamy texture, where it is useful in baby foods, as a soup thickener or as a custard or pudding dessert.

Can I freeze leftover cooked quinoa or cook it then freeze it for future meals?

Yes, you can. We suggest measuring the cooked quinoa into resealable freezer bags in amounts you would normally use. For best freshness and flavor, we recommend quinoa be frozen for no more than one month.

Does quinoa flour have the same nutritional benefits as quinoa seeds?

Yes, quinoa flour has the same nutritional breakdown as regular white quinoa.

Quinoa flour can be expensive. Are there any alternatives?

You can certainly grind your own flour to reduce the cost of buying it. We recommend that you test this first in whatever appliance you are using to grind, as different appliances will provide coarse or fine flours. Consider the desired texture when using home-ground flour in recipes, as it may especially affect baking results.

I have purchased both white and red quinoa. Do I cook them both in the same manner and can they be used interchangeably?

You can certainly cook both the white (golden) quinoa and the red quinoa using the exact same method. Some people prefer to cook red quinoa slightly longer, with a bit more water, to soften the seeds even further. Depending on the recipe, and how the quinoa is to be used, you may choose to cook one color rather than the other.

Is it possible, or practical, to cook quinoa in a microwave oven?

Of all the ways to cook quinoa, we don’t recommend cooking it in a microwave oven. We’ve tested cooking it this way, and it just doesn’t turn out well or consistently enough. However, feel free to experiment with cooking quinoa in your microwave oven; you may find that with a certain cooking time, power level and amount of water, it works in your microwave. Reheating quinoa in a microwave is a personal preference. You may even discover that reheating quinoa leftovers is completely unnecessary. Many cooked quinoa dishes do not require reheating and are delicious for lunches. Quinoa salads are a great option to carry with you and eat during your day. Keep in mind that microwave ovens are suspected of contributing to ill health, as they significantly deplete or modify nutrients in food and are said to create cancer-causing free radicals.

Can you cook quinoa in a rice cooker?

Absolutely! Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cooking white rice. However, since quinoa triples or more in volume as it cooks (whereas rice only doubles), make sure there’s enough room in your cooker.

Is quinoa good for those with gluten-intolerance?

Yes! Quinoa does not contain gluten. Combined with other gluten-free ingredients, you can make some fantastic gluten-free meals.

I am a vegetarian. Can I benefit from eating quinoa?

Vegetarians can definitely benefit from eating quinoa. Quinoa is a terrific non-animal protein source, and provides all eight essential amino acids. Highly digestible and extremely versatile, quinoa allows vegetarians to increase their meal options with healthful nutrients.

Can I eat quinoa if I am on diet?

Yes! Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate, so it provides energy throughout the day, digesting slowly and not causing insulin levels to spike, which is believed to cause fat storage in the body. In the popular points-based weight-loss programs, a serving of 1 cup (250 mL) of cooked quinoa is equal to 3 points.

Is quinoa good for diabetics?

Quinoa is a great food for diabetics. It has a low glycemic index and is a complex carbohydrate, so sugars digest slowly, maintaining proper insulin levels. The complete nutrition of quinoa will also provide many of your daily vitamins and minerals. Ensure you ask your doctor any questions you have about maintaining proper blood sugar levels.

I’m on a raw-food diet. How can I still benefit from eating quinoa?

You can still enjoy quinoa if you eat raw foods. One option is sprouted quinoa and another is raw or cracked quinoa. You can then add these to your raw food meals!

How does quinoa compare with products that are “enriched” with the same minerals and vitamins?

When products are “enriched,” it means that minerals or vitamins are added during the product’s processing and either are not natural to the product or were depleted during processing. Quinoa is a complete protein (it contains all eight essential amino acids) and is naturally chock-full of vitamins and minerals—meaning nothing needs to be added! It is simply one of nature’s perfectly created nutrient-rich foods.

Can quinoa be grown in North America?

Quinoa prefers a growing climate that is dry, and it grows best where it originated, in South America. Some farmers do grow it in North America, and some do so quite successfully, but not without tackling challenges caused by the differences in climate. There are several commercial growers in Canada and the United States; however, the majority of quinoa comes from South America, where it has been cultivated since the 1500s.