We all know protein is a vital part of any diet, meat however isn’t the only source of protein. Get ready to restock those kitchen cupboards, because protein is found in grains, nuts, beans, produce and even seeds.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), often mistaken as a grain, is a protein packed seed. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. This tender seed boasts a slightly crunchy, fluffy texture with a light nutty flavor.  Aside from being high in protein, quinoa is also high in fiber, iron, and magnesium – it’s practically a multi-vitamin! If that doesn’t inspire you to give it a try, perhaps you might be impressed with its history: quinoa once believed to be sacred was used to increase the stamina of armies.

Quinoa is gluten-free, is a great alternative to rice and it cooks on the stove in just 10 to15 minutes. Organic quinoa is easily found in natural food markets, and often in the bulk sections. Though there are close to 2,000 different types of the seed, quinoa typically comes in white or red varieties, which have slightly different flavors. Both are delicious, give them each a try and see which you prefer.

Once you discover quinoa you’ll be raving about this “secret” seed to all of your friends and will always have some on hand in your kitchen. Here are some ideas for how to use it:

How to prepare:

  • Before cooking, rinse quinoa in a sieve or strainer to remove the saponin, the bitter tasting coating on the outside.
  • Combine 1 part dry (rinsed) quinoa with 2 parts water, bring to a boil, then simmer on stove for 10-15 minutes.

Meal suggestions:

  • Breakfast: toss cooked quinoa with nuts, berries, fruit, nut milk, and a drop of maple syrup. If you can find them at the store, quinoa flakes are a great alternative to oatmeal – they resemble rolled oats in appearance and make a tasty hot cereal; they can also be used for baking.
  • Lunch and dinner: after quinoa is cooked, it can be enjoyed warm or cold. It is delicious as a main course or side dish mixed with vegetables, pine nuts, herbs, and seasonings. Quinoa is also a great addition to soups, pilafs, stir fries, and casseroles.
  • Gluten-free: check out quinoa-based pasta and flour and use it exactly like you would with wheat-based products.

I know you’re raring to go, so go ahead: grab your reusable bags and head out to the market for some quinoa. The grocer will be impressed that you know how to pronounce it!

 Try our our quinoa recipes: