Quinoa Nutrition

by Natalie on May 6, 2011

Are you curious about quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah)? This nutritious little seed has been making its way in to many of our grocery stores and restaurants.

Quinoa may be new to many of us, but it has been in this world for centuries. Native to Northern South American, quinoa was domesticated in the Andes around 5000 BC and was a staple food of the Incas. Interestingly, quinoa is related to the same family as beets and spinach.

Although we treat it like one, quinoa is not a grain, but rather a seed. If you want to refer to quinoa as a grain, thats fine, I do sometimes. Quinoa closely resembles a grain and is prepared like one, thats why I don’t mind calling it a grain. However, its fun to know its true identity.

Quinoa is gluten free, and therefore can be consumed safely by people with a gluten allergy.

Quinoa Nutrition

Quinoa contains greater amounts of protein and minerals than most grains. It contains all nine essential amino acids in high enough amounts to be considered a complete protein. It is exceptionally high in the essential amino acid lysine, which is usually deficient in grain crops. Due to quinoa’s amino acid profile, it is a good food to include on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

For cancer prevention we should be consuming a plant based diet, meaning we should decrease our emphasis on animal foods. Quinoa is a good food to include at a meat-less meal because it will help you meet your protein requirements.

Quinoa Nutrition Details (1/2 cup cooked quinoa)

  • 111 calories
  • 4 gm protein
  • 2 gm fat
  • 19 gm carb
  • 3 gm fiber
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 16mg calcium
  • 1.4 mg iron
  • 6 mg sodium


Quinoa’s nutritional profile isn’t the only reason why you should eat it. It also tastes great! It has a mild nutty flavor. Just as any other grain, quinoa is bland if eaten without seasoning.


Quinoa can be used as a substitute in any recipe calling for rice or couscous. It can also be eaten for breakfast as a hot cereal instead of oatmeal.

Cooking Quinoa

Rinse quinoa under water before use. Use two cups of water per cup of quinoa. Combine quinoa and water together in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes. White threads will appear around each grain when it is done.

You can cook quinoa in a variety of liquids. I have cooked it in broth for more flavor. Or I have cooked it in almond milk if eating it for breakfast.

Quinoa pretty much doubles in size when cooked. 1 Cup of uncooked quinoa will yield 2 cups when cooked.


Quinoa can be pricey in some stores. You need to shop around to find a good deal. I have been buying a 4 pound bag of organic quinoa from Costco for only $8.99. That is a very good deal!

the quinoa I bought from Costco

Question: What is your favorite way to eat quinoa? Leave a comment in the comments section.



Photo by: nerissa’s ring

Melissa May 6, 2011 at 9:41 am

I love quinoa as a savory side with peppers & onions. I also love it in tomato soup! I made a quinoa porridge for breakfast once and I did not enjoy that so much…but maybe one day I will try again 🙂

Natalie May 6, 2011 at 10:42 am

Sounds great with peppers and onions! I need to try it in tomato soup, what a great suggestion. Stay tuned for a great breakfast quinoa recipe, will be coming soon!

Melissa May 9, 2011 at 9:10 am

Thanks Nat! I am excited to try the breakfast recipe.

Natalie May 9, 2011 at 9:54 am

Great! Let me know what you think!

Marilyn May 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I love quinoa cold with cilantro, mango, water chestnuts, pine nuts, and balsamic vinegar. So good.

Natalie May 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I have a recipe very similar to that which I love too. Its a great mix for the spring/summer seasons.

Melissa May 9, 2011 at 9:10 am

This sounds fantastic…I will have to try!

Dana @ Budget Dietitian May 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I admit that I haven’t tried to make it as I am intimidated by it! I look forward to your recipe to help hold my hand through it. 🙂

Natalie May 9, 2011 at 9:57 am

Once you cook it, you are going to be like “why did I wait so long to try it?” I think you’ll find it pairs nicely with many different flavors.

Michelle August 13, 2013 at 7:51 pm

What is the easiest and best way to rinse it? It falls thru my colander, or just plugs up a small strainer. My bag from Costco says it’s prewashed, but I think it still needs rinsed before use. Thank you!

Natalie August 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I use a wire mesh strainer and it works great! I would still rinse it even though it says prewashed.

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