Tip, Trick & a Recipe: Quinoa
– Gluten-free “grain” or is it a seed?

Quinoa is a seed that’s been around forever, though with the popularity it’s gained in recent years, you’d think it was a new invention. Quinoa has an amazing nutritional profile. This seed is gluten free, high in protein and rich in health-supportive fats.

Quinoa is full of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. It can lower your cholesterol, and it’s easy to digest.

Easy to eat, easy to cook and easy to digest, there’s much to love about quinoa.

There is a debate in the nutrition world about whether quinoa is Paleo, and I say that if it doesn’t cause you any discomfort, you go ahead and eat it. Do keep in mind, though, that though quinoa is a more nutritious option than a lot of foods, it is carb heavy, so practice good portion control.

Shop for organic, fair-trade quinoa so you know that farmers in South America are getting a fair price for their crop.

Now, it’s time for your Trick:

You can find quinoa in beige, orange, purple, green and almost every color in between. Beige is the tastiest; red is the healthiest!

Your Tip:

Always rinse your quinoa before cooking it. Quinoa has a bitter coating that must be rinsed off before you prepare it. Otherwise, it won’t taste very good. (You should also remember to drain your quinoa after cooking and let it rest for a few minutes.)

And your Recipe:

Quinoa Salad

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Course Salads, Side Dishes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped
  • 1 lage red bell pepper cored, deseeded, and chopped
  • 1 large cucumber peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves stems removed, chopped
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons pine nuts toasted
  • 6 leaves red leaf lettuce


  • In a colander, rinse the quinoa thoroughly and drain.
  • In a medium size saucepan, bring the broth to a boil, stir in the quinoa, and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or till all the liquid is absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, onion, red bell pepper, cucumber and basil.
  • In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, vinegar, orange rind, salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss well. Arrange each serving on the lettuce and garnish with pine nuts.
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19 Responses

    1. That should work just fine. If you’re worried about the wheat gluten in traditional soy sauce though, you can use the wheat-free version of soy sauce called Tamari, which is very good. And since the soy is fully fermented in good quality soy sauces, that should pose no issues with your Paleo compatible diet either. : )

  1. The Incas used quinoa to make war balls (fat and quinoa) to sustain them when in battle. I wonder if there is a way to make them to sustain on hiking outings. Guess I have some research to do

    1. you should totally be able to make some kind of bars with quinoa. with healthy fats like grass fed butter or coconut oil, natural peanut butter, throw some dried cranberries and some nuts in there….experiment! i do my own trail mix so just start throwing stuff together and see what works!

  2. Trying to cook quinoa in Denver, altitude problems I believe, seems to be difficult, unless you plan well ahead of time, so i cheated and got a quinoa, kale, precooked, and frozen from costco, I had tasted it quite awhile back and it was great, that way if I forget I can still have it for dinner..

  3. I can’t have anything with tomatoes. I’ve yet to find a good substitute for tomatoes or tomato sauce. Anyone have any good ideas?

    1. Same problem here! I’ve used pumpkin puree instead of tomato sauce in chili. I’m not sure how well that would work in this recipe.

      1. Thanks, Sonia! Pumpkin puree is an ingredient I never would have thought of on my own. I’m willing to try anything at least once — I’ll have to try it in this quinoa recipe.

  4. Maybe it’s obvious, but I’d love some hints on how to rinse quinoa. What kind of tool or gadget is involved? Maybe I just don’t have the right thing. I’ve used a colander in the past, but a lot of quinoa washes out the colander holes. So I’ve lined the colander with a paper towel, and that was a big pain.

    1. I used a fine mess stainless steel strainer that I bought online at Amazon. You can also find the at Williams-Sonoma, Target, or Walmart They are also good for straining broths and removing pulp from juices. A regular strainer like those found at your local grocery has much too wide spacing of the wires,

  5. I let the quinoa soak for a while and then rinse. It keeps from loosing thru the strainer. It seems to take less cooking time also

  6. Recipe for a dessert or snack. 2 cups cooked quinoa, while still hot add one bag chocolate chips, one cup peanut butter, one cup almond milk. Stir until well mixed. Then add whatever you like. I do chia seeds, walnuts, slivered almonds, coconut, raisins, dry cranberries. I put it in individual serving containers and freeze.

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