Quinoa is an ancient seed that has high nutritional value and adds flexibility, texture, and flavor to your diet.
It is gluten-free and high in protein, so it complements the diet of those who have Celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities.
The dense proteins it contains make it an excellent option for those who follow vegetarian and vegan diets.
In all of the conversation about the benefits of quinoa, there has been some debate about the “right” way to prepare it to eat.
Most nutritionists and chefs recommend that you prepare quinoa by soaking and then cooking it. However, some say that it is safe to eat quinoa raw blended into a smoothie or as part of homemade granola. You can also sprout quinoa and eat the sprouts raw on a sandwich or in a salad.
Continue reading for an understanding of how to prepare quinoa for cooking, how to sprout it properly, and how to integrate raw quinoa into your everyday diet.
The Nutritional Benefits Of Eating Quinoa
Quinoa is technically a seed, but it is considered a whole grain in terms of culinary preparation and nutritional values.
It has a similar carbohydrate content to rice and a low glycemic index, so it is not likely to cause a blood sugar spike after eating.
It is exceptionally high in protein for a plant, similar to levels found in dairy products. Therefore it is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians.
These benefits do not change significantly between cooked and raw quinoa.
Preparing Quinoa For Use In Recipes
Should We Rinse Quinoa
Quinoa had a natural insect repellent coating on it called saponin. It has a bitter, soapy taste to keep insects and birds from eating it.
Rinsing quinoa before you use it removes the saponin and reduces the bitterness. Read the packaging for the quinoa you buy.
If it is pre-rinsed, you might skip this step. If you eat it and it is still bitter, rinse it before using it, even if it is pre-rinsed.
Do I Soak The Quinoa?
Some people suggest soaking the quinoa before using it in raw recipes or cooking. It may help with digestion.
If eating unsoaked quinoa makes your stomach hurt or gives you gas, soak it the next time you make it.
The ultimate decision about soaking the quinoa should be based on the final texture you want to achieve.
For a firmer texture, don’t pre-soak before using. If you like a softer texture, soak for up to an hour before using it in raw recipes or cooking.
How To Incorporate Raw Quinoa Into Your Diet
Grow Quinoa Sprouts
Some nutritionists recommend that the best way to enjoy raw quinoa is to let it sprout and eat those. You can grow your own sprouts and use them in a variety of recipes.
Eating sprouted seeds like quinoa makes them easier to digest and helps make the nutrients easier for the body to absorb.
To sprout your quinoa, start by rinsing and draining the seeds to remove the saponin.
Next, soak the seeds at room temperature for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse, then place in a jar until the sprouts emerge.
Rinse the seeds/sprouts 3 times a day to prevent any bacteria or mold from growing on them.
When the sprouts grow, store them in the refrigerator for 1-2 days until you use them. Be sure to dispose of them if there is any sign of mold.
Try your Quinoa sprouts on this vegetarian sandwich:
On your favorite thickly sliced whole wheat bread, layer ½ cup roasted red pepper hummus, ½ cup grated carrot, ½ sliced cucumber, ½ avocado sliced, a handful of quinoa sprouts, and salt and pepper to taste.
Use the quinoa sprouts as a topping on this healthy salad:
Combine ½ cup washed torn kale, ¾ cup purple sprouting broccoli, ¼ cup quinoa sprouts, 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, 4 tablespoons hummus, and 1 cup cooked chickpeas.
Stir Fry With Sprouts
Make your favorite vegetable stir fry and add your quinoa sprouts during the last minute or two of cooking to warm them and coat them in the sauce.
You can so substitute cooked quinoa instead of rice for a protein-packed base for your stir fry.
Make A Smoothie
When you buy quinoa seeds to use raw, be sure to choose some that have been pre-rinsed to remove the bitter saponin coating.
If you prefer the quinoa seeds straight out of the package, run them through a high-powered blender first to grind them into a powder before adding it to your smoothie.
Another option is to soak the quinoa seeds for half an hour before adding them to the blender to make them easier to blend into the smoothie.
Again, run the quinoa through the blender first to grind it to as smooth a consistency as possible before making the smoothie.
Kid-friendly Quinoa Smoothie
Here is a kid-friendly smoothie recipe to add protein and vitamins to even the pickiest eater’s diets. Start by blending the quinoa to pulverize it enough to be powdered, so it combines easily with the other ingredients.
Combine one cup of milk (dairy or non-dairy), half a cup of plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy), 1 banana, 8 oz frozen berries, ½ cup soaked quinoa, ½ tsp honey.
Blend until smooth. You will need to blend a little longer than usual to get the quinoa smooth.
Coffee Quinoa Smoothie
Try this smoothie for a morning boost of nutrition, protein, and caffeine to get your day started.
Rinse and soak ½ cup of quinoa for at least half an hour. In your high-powered blender, pulverize the quinoa until it is finely ground.
Add 1 and ½ cups of brewed coffee cooled to room temperature, 1 cup of almond milk (or your milk of choice), 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds or chia seeds, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 frozen banana chopped, sweetener to taste.
Add Quinoa To Homemade Granola
You can make your granola for a delicious gluten-free snack and store it for up to two weeks.
Adding quinoa to the recipe boosts the amount of protein you can get from this simple filling topping.
This recipe calls for gluten-free rolled oats, uncooked quinoa, almonds, coconut sugar, sea salt, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Eat it as a snack by itself or as a topping on your yogurt.
Here is another take on quinoa granola that is grain-free but adds dried fruit for some sweetness.
Top your creamy butternut squash soup with this, add it to your yogurt, or eat it as a snack.
This delicious combo has almonds, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, honey, and golden raisins.
Try Homemade Quinoa Granola Bars
These low-sugar, kid-friendly quinoa granola bars are a great addition to your family’s morning routine.
These bars combine quick oats, quinoa, almonds, ground flaxseed, and chocolate chips with eggs, honey, and coconut oil.
If you like fruit in your granola bars for a sweet and filling breakfast treat, give this recipe a try.
It includes rolled oats, quinoa, and chia seeds with banana and your choice of dried fruit.
Add in almond butter, honey, vanilla extract, cinnamon, almonds, and pecans to round out the flavor and texture in this recipe.
You can take 2 cups of cooked quinoa and toast it in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir frequently, and cook until the quinoa is browned and crispy.
This will make an excellent topping for a salad or a complement to a vegetable side dish.
Believe it or not, you can pop quinoa just like popcorn. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan, then add a couple of hands full of quinoa seeds.
Shake it while it pops, then top it with sea salt and butter or your favorite topping. It won’t be as fluffy as popcorn, but it will still be a light and crunchy treat for a movie night.
How Do You Use Quinoa Flakes
Quinoa flakes are simply quinoa seeds that have been pressed flat. It is a similar process to making rolled oats. They have the same nutritional value as quinoa seeds.
Quinoa flakes are a great choice to use in smoothies because they blend much more quickly than the seeds do.
This is an excellent option if you add quinoa to smoothies for picky eaters to boost their nutrient intake. The quinoa flakes will not change the texture of the smoothie much.
Another easy way to incorporate quinoa flakes into your cooking is to use the flakes as breading for chicken or fish.
How To Use Quinoa Flour
Quinoa flour, just like other flours, needs to be combined in a recipe and cooked to be good to eat.
Eating it alone, raw, would be much like eating regular flour raw. It wouldn’t hurt you, but it wouldn’t taste good either.
Use quinoa flour in combination with other flours to make high-protein gluten-free baked goods. It will make delicious pancakes, muffins, and pizza dough.
You can also use quinoa flour to thicken sauces and soups.
Storing Uncooked Quinoa
Store quinoa that is still in its original sealed packaging in your pantry or cabinet at room temperature. It will be good for 3-4 years that way.
Once you open the package, keep uncooked quinoa in an airtight container in the refrigerator to extend the shelf-life. Opened uncooked quinoa will be good in the fridge for 2-3 years.
You can freeze uncooked quinoa as well. Just pop it in the freezer in an airtight package.
How To Tell If your Quinoa Has Gone Bad
It can be hard to tell if quinoa has gone bad before it is cooked. First, smell it. If it smells bad, it is not good to eat.
If you start cooking and the quinoa smells foul or has an unusually hard texture, it has gone bad, and you should discard it.
We Thought You Would Like
You can eat quinoa seeds raw. Consider soaking them first, then including them in a smoothie to boost your morning nutrition. Add the seeds to your homemade granola and top your yogurt or make granola bars.
Sprout the quinoa first for a fresher taste, then use it to top a sandwich or your favorite salad.
For some lightly cooked quinoa, toss the sprouts in a stir fry. Or, for movie night, pop the seeds like popcorn and enjoy with butter and salt.
However you enjoy this nutritious seed, find a way to add it to your diet to boost vitamins and complete protein.
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My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.