Nutrition spotlight on quinoa

March 13, 2014 Sarah Lawson, RD

This week the Registered Dietitians and Diet Technicians offered up a unique spin on quinoa for National Nutrition Month. Many of you reported you have had it as a side dish at dinner or in a salad for lunch. However on Wednesday, we served quinoa for breakfast! Spiced up with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom, the sky is the limit for extra add-ins to further boost the nutrition of your morning meal.

Additional Flavor Ideas to Mix and Match:

  • Chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, etc)
  • Diced apple or pear
  • Banana slices
  • Mixed berries
  • Dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, prunes)
  • Almond or peanut butter
  • A tablespoon of flax seed or chia for healthy essential fatty acids
  • Honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar for sweetness
  • Scrambled egg for protein
Technically considered a seed (not a grain), quinoa is gluten-free and a complete source of protein. A serving provides a good source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Quinoa is also packed with B-Vitamins including folate, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6. Try substituting quinoa for pasta or rice at meals to change things up and increase the nutrition at your meal.

Hot Spiced Quinoa Cereal
Recipe by Melisa Ahner, yields ~4 servings

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 cup soy or dairy milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp salt

  1. Put quinoa, water, cinnamon stick, salt, and spices in pot.
  2. Bring to boil over high heat.?
  3. Reduce to simmer and cook ~10 minutes until water is absorbed?.
  4. Stir in milk and cook ~10 more minutes and for doneness: quinoa should be tender but maintain a little crunch
??Nutrition per serving: 185 calories, 8 grams protein, 3.5 grams fat, 31 grams carbohydrate, 75 mg sodium, 3.5 grams fiber

If you’ve tried cooking quinoa before, and it just didn’t turn out quite right, here are some further quinoa cooking tips for achieving light, fluffy quinoa every time:
  1. ?Rinse your dry quinoa in water before cooking. A fluffier product results from removing the grit from the grains.
  2. Less [water] is more.?Many packages recommend 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. If your quinoa has turned out mushy using this ratio, try reducing the ratio to 1 ½ parts water 1 part quinoa. ??
  3. No peeking!? Once you close that pot lid over your cooking quinoa - no peeking! And no stirring! Do not disturb!??
  4. Let it sit. ?After cooking and before you lift the lid, turn OFF the stove let the quinoa sit for a good 5-10 minutes. Again - no peeking!
  5. Stick a fork in it. ?Fluff your cooked quinoa with a fork instead of stirring with a spoon to prevent sticky, clumpy quinoa.

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