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I can’t talk about quinoa enough; it’s the “superfood” that deserves all the attention it gets. Imagine a grain that contains all nine essential amino acids and is high in fiber, protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals—magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin E—while still being gluten-free. That’s quinoa.

If you’re new to the game, quinoa is pronounced KEEN-wah, but is often mispronounced kwin-OH-ah, which is a reasonable mistake if you’re looking at it phonetically. Just avoid “Real Housewives of New York” star Ramona Singer’s rendition, KWEEN-wah.

Quinoa Confession: It’s Actually a Seed!

The real reason quinoa is such a great grain is that it’s not technically a grain. It originates from a grain crop, but is actually an edible seed that’s just prepared and enjoyed the same way grains are. If you have a hard time digesting grains, quinoa is the way to go. It has a similar texture and experience, but even more protein, and a great nutty flavor.

There are over 100 types of quinoa, but the most common and commercially available are white, black, and red. They’re often found near the specialty rices, beans, and grains section in the grocery store, and are really easy to prepare.

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How to Cook Quinoa

1. Rinse it. If purchased from a bin, or a box that doesn’t preface that it’s been pre-rinsed, you’ll have to start by putting it in a fine strainer and running it through cold water. Quinoa has a natural soapy coating called saponin, so rinsing it for a few minutes under cold water should help to remove that.

2. Place the quinoa on the stove in a covered pot, using two cups of water for every one cup of quinoa. Quinoa holds a lot of water, so a cup of dry quinoa makes about three cups cooked.

3. Bring the water to b oil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 13 to 15 minutes. Watch for the quinoa to become translucent, and for the white ring to wrap around each seed.

Once your quinoa is cooked,  fluff it with a fork, and enjoy it as a side (dressed up with whatever seasonings you like), or drop it into soups, salads, or wraps; it’s a pretty easy way to add nutritional value to meals and works well with practically any flavors and ingredients.

Quinoa Recipes

If you want the quinoa to take center stage, here are seven recipes with quinoa incorporated.

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Autumn Vegetables and Ginger-Scallion Dressing

This vegan recipe combines the umami flavor of soy sauce and sesame oil with hearty fall vegetables for a warm, filling meal, perfect for a cold day. Get our Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Autumn Vegetables and Ginger-Scallion Dressing recipe.

Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa

This might be one of the easiest enchiladas you’ll ever make. Chop up onions, green bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic, and throw them into a Crock pot with quinoa, cheese, diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, chicken broth, enchilada sauce and spices, and forget about it until it looks creamy and cheesy. Just a few simple steps for a healthy, flavorful meal. Get the Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa recipe.

Grilled Pork Chops with Quinoa, Asparagus & Mushrooms

The flavors in this grilled pork chops recipe are deep and delicious. The grilled pork chops are accompanied with cooked asparagus and mushrooms, and quinoa that’s been cooked with chopped onions, garlic and white wine, and seasoned with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder, beef broth, and lemon juice. Get the Grilled Pork Chops with Quinoa, Asparagus & Mushrooms recipe.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp & Quinoa

This easy recipe can be made in just 35 minutes. Start by simply heating olive oil in a large pot with onion and garlic. Wait until the onions are soft, and then add quinoa with ½ teaspoon of chili and saute for a minute, sprinkling in salt and pepper intermittently. Next, add two cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent. Separately, cook the shrimp in a large skillet with ½ tablespoon of olive oil, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Saute the shrimp until it is no longer translucent and serve over the quinoa with lemon juice and chopped parsley. Get the Spicy Garlic Shrimp & Quinoa recipe.

Vegetable Quinoa Soup

This recipe is a one-pot soup, jam-packed with vegetables, and perfect for entertaining and meal prepping for the week. To begin, heat olive oil in a large pot and add onions, carrots and celery, cooking until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, sweet potato, butternut squash and bay leaves next, and cook until the vegetables are soft. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, and quinoa, and season with fresh rosemary and thyme. When the quinoa is soft and transparent, stir in the kale and cook for an additional five minutes. Serve warm with salt and black pepper. Get the Vegetable Quinoa Soup recipe.

Quinoa Chili

This chili is a delicious blend of spices and vegetables that can warm you up on a cold winter day. Cook the quinoa in a small pot and in a separate large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, and add onions, peppers and garlic, along with the chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, smoked paprika and chipotle powder. Next, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables and cook for about five minutes. Serve warm with sour cream, cilantro and sliced avocado. Get the Quinoa Chili recipe.

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