All About Quinoa

bowl of quinoa salad Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a nutritious, nutty tasting, tiny seed. It cooks just like rice, but quicker, and is used much the same way. Are you ready to add quinoa to your grocery list? Here are some tips and ideas to get started.


  • Quinoa is very nutritious. It is higher in protein and iron than most grains and is a source of fibre too.
  • ½ cup (125 mL) of cooked quinoa counts as one grain product serving in Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Quinoa is a low glycemic index food. It raises blood glucose (sugar) slowly. That makes it a good choice for people at risk for, or living with, diabetes.
  • Quinoa can help vegetarians meet their protein needs.   While not high in protein, quinoa, unlike other plant proteins, is a “complete protein”. This means it provides all the building blocks we need to make protein.   
  • Quinoa is gluten-free. 

Buy it best

  • Quinoa is sold as a seed, flour or in flakes (like flakes of rolled oats). Look for quinoa in the baked goods or organic section of your store.
  • Save money. Compare store brands and bulk store prices.  Split a large bag with a friend.
  • Most quinoa sold is white quinoa. You can also buy red or black quinoa.
  • Red quinoa holds its shape well. It’s a good choice for salads.
  • Black quinoa has an earthier and sweeter taste than white quinoa.   

Tips for storing quinoa

  • Uncooked quinoa will keep in an air tight container in a cool, dry place (like a cupboard) for up to one year.
  • Cooked quinoa will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. You can also freeze quinoa for up to a month.

Tips for cooking quinoa

  • Rinse quinoa in water before cooking to remove any bitter taste.
  • Quinoa cooks like rice but quicker. Follow the cooking instructions on the package.
  • For added flavour, cook quinoa in salt-free or homemade broth instead of water.
  • Add colour to your plate. Mix different colours of quinoa.
  • One cup of dry quinoa makes 3 cups cooked or 4-6 servings.

5 things to do with quinoa

  1. Eat quinoa like a hot cereal. Just add milk or fortified soy beverage to leftover quinoa. You can also cook quinoa in milk or fortified soy beverage.  Top it with: cranberries, raisons, fresh or unsweetened canned fruit, toasted nuts or seeds. For added sweetness, stir in a little cinnamon, vanilla extract or maple syrup.
  2. Serve quinoa as a side dish.  Enjoy it plain or dress it up. Try: sautéed mushrooms, leftover vegetables, diced cooked sweet potato, frozen green peas or shelled edamame (green soy beans).
  3. Use quinoa as a base for a salad meal. Add any of: lean meats, skinless chicken, low-sodium canned beans, salmon or tofu and vegetables on hand. Mix in a little of your favourite oil and vinegar dressing. Top with grated low-fat cheese or low-sodium feta, toasted nuts or seeds, dried cranberries or raisins.
  4. Add cooked quinoa to your next frittata. It’s a great way to use up small amounts of leftover quinoa.
  5. Add quinoa to soups. It makes for a heartier soup.


Sweet Quinoa Surprise
Quinoa and lentil pilaf
Vegetable Quinoa Salad
Yummy Quinoa Lunch

You may also be interested in:

Cooking with Whole Grains
What you need to know about a vegetarian eating plan
Eating well with celiac disease

Last Update – May 10, 2017

Phone Icon

Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice. Want to unlock the potential of food? Connect with a dietitian.