March is Quinoa Month

Quinoa Salad by Chef Pascal Sauton is one of our long standing favorite recipes (link below).

Quinoa Salad by Chef Pascal Sauton is one of our long standing favorite recipes (link below).

Our friends at the Whole Grains Council kicked off 2010 with their clever Grain of the Month Calendar, a plan to honor an individual grain each month of the year. March is Quinoa month and we thought it might be a good time for a refresher course on the nutritional powerhouse known as quinoa.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WA) is a high protein grain cultivated by the Incan tribes of the Andes mountains in South America. A traditional staple of the Incan diet, quinoa was known as the mother of all grains or chisaya mama. Because the native peoples of South America held the grain in such high regards, it was scorned by Spanish conquerers and fell into obscurity until a revival of the grain in the 1970s.

Lucky for us that the grain did find its way into the kitchens of 1970s America. Not only is it delicious, but quinoa has a short cooking time which sets it apart from many whole grains. Unlike many other whole grains, quinoa cooks in just 15 minutes! This tiny , gluten-free grain delivers all of the essential amino acids and is a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus and iron.  People often talk about the bitter saponins in the seed coat of quinoa. Bob’s Red Mill quinoa has been pre-washed to remove this bitter coating. There are other brands that are not pre-washed, so be sure to check the label before consuming or you’ll be unpleasantly surprised. When cooked, quinoa is light and fluffy and has a very unique look. If you look very closely, you can see a lighter ring attached to the grain- this is quite simply the germ. It looks a little bit worm-like and is most noticeable on the black and red quinoa, but rest assured this is normal.

You can almost make out the little golden circles in this picture. These circles are the germ of the grain.

You can almost make out the little golden circles in this picture. These circles are the germ of the grain.

I’ve noticed quinoa on the menu at several of our local restaurants and in deli salads at places like Whole Foods- next time you see that funny q-word, see if you can sample some, you might just fall in love with this tiny grain.

If you’re not sure what to do with quinoa, we have some fabulous recipes on our website and you can get more info (we particularly liked their fun facts) and recipes for quinoa from the Whole Grains Council.

Here are some of our favorite recipes using quinoa:

Quinoa Salad (Pascal Sauton)
Quinoa Taboule

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Quinoa
Tuscan Quinoa Radicchio Wraps
Black Bean, Corn and Quinoa Salad


Sergio says:

Bob’s Red Mill is a super cool company. Thank you for supporting small organic family farms in the Andes!

Krista says:

I love quinoa – my favorite “rice” alternative. I love that it is a complete protein source for vegetarians. But it is expensive, so I savor it when I can!

Lou says:

Does quinoa have to be rinse before cooking?

@Lou Our quinoa is pre-washed, so it does not need to be rinsed. Some of the other brands out there are not pre-washed. I recommend reading the package to see if the quinoa has been rinsed to avoid eating any of the bitter saponins.

Dr. Etminan says:

Quinoa is a unique grain that has all the essential amino acids, yet it light enough to enjoy. It’s simple to prepare and you could make it savory or sweet, as desired. There are so many different ways you could mix this to make it different…mix it with all sorts of different vegetables (any you desire) and or spices for a unique taste. You could try sprouting it too- which will bring out its goodness even more. It sprouts much quicker than other grains.

How would this cereal be prepared as a daily breakfast food?
Thank you,
Martin Plotkin, M.D.

@Martin We like to cook the quinoa and add a bit of milk and honey to make it into a porridge-like dish. Add some dried fruit and nuts and you have yourself a high protein breakfast.

Summer Thomas says:

Will your quinoa sprout?

@Summer Our quinoa has not been purchased with an eye toward sprouting. It is washed to remove the saponins, which may or may not affect its ability to sprout. Here are some directions to try, though I do not know if our quinoa will sprout or not. These are from the Quinoa Corporation:

Cover quinoa with water using at least twice the amount of water to quinoa. Soak quinoa in a bowl for 12 hours. Using running water, place the grains in a jar with a screen or cheesecloth lid; or use some other sprouting apparatus. Rinse seeds twice a day. Lay the jar sideways to give them room to grow. Cover the jar with a dark cloth loosely so that air can move through the lid. The grain is soft when finished, and best eaten in 2-3 days.

Lulu says:

I love Quinoa…I will surely purchase Bob’s…especially since it has been pre-washed

Jim says:

I LOVE Bob’s Red Mill Products and the Company itself! Corp. America should take a lesson…

As a vegetarian, I was pleased to learn of B’sRM quinoa and that it has a complete protein content. I do have a question though: the package says “all eight essential amino acids” – I have known there to be 9 essentials; some sources say 8, some say 9. (sometimes, one or two are considered ‘conditionally essential) Is there any way to find out which essentials exactly there are in this product?

Thank you very much,


AmandaCarter says:

Hi Jim,
Quinoa contains these 8 essential amino acids: phenylalanine, lysine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine and leucine.
Amanda C.
Bob’s Red Mill

HeatherAnne says:

Where do your source your quinoa? I’m reading a lot about quinoa popularity having a negative impact on the socio-economic environment of the South American communities in which it is produced. How is Bob’s Red Mill addressing this?


Our quinoa comes from Peru and Bolivia.

View Comments

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts

Keep up to date on the latest from
Bob's Red Mill
Subscribe Now