Quinoa – an alternative to rice

Quinoa is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds.  It is high in protein, lacks gluten, and is tolerant of dry soil.


Landscape with Chenopodium quinoa Cachilaya Bolivia Lake Titicaca

Quinoa (the name is derived from the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name kinwa or occasionally “Qin-wah”) originated in the Andean region of EcuadorBoliviaColombia and Peru.

Red quinoa, cooked.

In their natural state, quinoa seeds or, collectively, just “quinoa”, have a coating of bitter-tasting saponins, making them unpalatable.  Most quinoa sold commercially in North America has been processed to remove this coating. This bitterness has beneficial effects during cultivation, as the plant is unpopular with birds and therefore requires minimal protection.

Nutritional value

Quinoa was important to the diet of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations. Today, people appreciate quinoa for its nutritional value. Quinoa has been called a superfood.  Protein content is very high for a cereal/pseudo-cereal (14% by mass), yet not as high as most beans and legumes. Quinoa’s protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice and oats.  Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein.  Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high inmagnesium and iron.  Quinoa is also a source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.  Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

– Extracts from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa – 

How to cook Quinoa for dummies

I tried cooking Quinoa in the microwave but it failed either because the timing was not right or I had put too little water.  The second time I cooked Quinoa, I did it in the rice cooker and it turned out excellent.

Cooking quinoa (in my limited experience) is like cooking rice except in rice, we use half water, half rice but in quinoa, the portion is more like one-third quinoa to two-third water,  To make this otherwise very bland meal appetizing, I added chicken stock and nasi briyani spices to it .  You could add some ham, green peas and cheese and then once cooked, I added a small amount of butter (or olive oil), olives cashew nuts, cherry tomatoes and fried garlic.

Tastes heavenly.

These days, my dinner alternates between rice, couscous or quinoa as the staples with vegetable or meat dishes as sides.  Other days I may have pasta, noodles or pizzas if I wanted something quick and fast.  Platters, bread and dips or chili con carne with nachos are often another interesting alternative for a change.  The list goes on and on.

It’s always interesting to ask myself

What’s for dinner tonight?

Quinoa garnished with ham, peas, cherry tomato and all sorts

Quinoa garnished with ham, peas, cherry tomato and all sorts

My guest's cooking - Malaysian style hokkien noodles

My guest’s cooking – Malaysian style hokkien noodles

Homemade pizza

Homemade pizza

Platter of all sorts

Platter of all sorts

A close up of yummy platter

A close up of yummy platter

Satay - I do not often cook on the bbq unless I have guests so satay for dinner is not so much a norm.

Satay – I do not often cook on the bbq unless I have guests so satay for dinner is not so much a norm.

6 thoughts on “Quinoa – an alternative to rice

  1. The Hokkien noodles does not look like Hokkien noodles one bit (in the picture) :/ Maybe it’s a special variety. You do know how to cook A LOT of yummy food and you make it look so easy. I guess when I come over I won’t have to starve 🙂

    • My guest was supposed to cook us the Hokkien noodles but the noodles he bought was too fine and it ended up more like kay si mee…lol..if you come my way, you can stay with me and be warned, you will gain a few pounds and that’s your risk !!!

      • I love kay si mee. The ‘Hokkien’ noodles picture looks like a salad to me. I think it’s because there’s just so much stuff in it. Not to worry, I need to healthily gain a few pounds for my twelve year old frame 🙂

      • hee.e.e.e.e SMILE. Goodnight Sweetie… I am hosting dinner for 8 ladies tomorrow (including myself) at my place as we are celebrating Chap Goh Mei and Valentine Day.. Lovely 8 ladies in a row…. Nite Nite 🙂

  2. I’m glad I was not hungry when I read this – everything looks amazingly delicious Jess! I like quinoa and it’s a great substitute for rice and pasta – less starchy and it has protein. Thanks for sharing your food passion with us 🙂

    • Hi Vera, I only started eating Quinoa. It’s not too bad .i have only got into real cooking since I moved to NZ. Before it was all eating out 90% of the time! Now I eat out or have takeaways maybe 40% and 60% I am a chef in my own kitchen. I love it there! 🙂

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