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Cooking Healthy Quinoa Germ

India is a food-industry insider who enjoys cooking, eating, and sharing food-related insights with others.

Quinoa, berries, and fresh honey comb

Quinoa, berries, and fresh honey comb

Quinoa? What's All the Fuss About?

Here is the scoop on Quinoa! It is pronounced "keen-wah" and is considered to be "the mother grain" as it contains more protein than any other grain in the world. Wow! Now that's saying a mouth full! Quinoa is as important to South American cuisine as potatoes are to those of us in North America. It is mild, earthy, and nutty and goes well with so many ingredients it would be near impossible to list them all. Use it instead of rice as a side, or add it to meat and vegetables to create tasty main courses.

As we learn about this mighty grain—which is actually more akin to spinach—you will discover three easy and quick-to-make recipes! Quinoa is so versatile it is even wonderful as a yummy and healthy breakfast! It's time to learn why this grain of all grains also makes some very tasty meals!

Quinoa Germ

Before Cooking Quinoa

Before we cook our mighty grain, it is important to know a thing or two about quinoa. Such as first, the exterior of the kernel is protected by a bitter coating referred to as saponin. It acts as a repellent to insects and thus helps to keep the grain healthy during the growing process. This is the main reason it is necessary to thoroughly rinse quinoa before cooking it. I recommend rinsing it using a fine mesh colander under cold water for 90–120 seconds. And second, quinoa differs from other grains. Quinoa has an exterior germ that covers the entire kernel (The Germ is the nutrient-rich middle layer of a grain).

As it cooks, the quinoa germ separates from the kernel, appearing as little white rings. When you see them, the rings are evidence that the grain is fully cooked. Third and finally, quinoa is easier to prepare than rice and in less time.

Quinoa For Lunch (a simple recipe)

Let's Make Lunch

Now that we know some things about quinoa, let's talk cuisine! Quinoa feels wonderful in your mouth; it is nutty and flavorful, offering a nice change from the comfort zone of rice. Our lunch recipe starts with an easy 15-minute healthy, yummy and filling lunch—1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water brought to boil on the stovetop, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, and you're ready to dig in—be sure to rinse the quinoa before cooking it. When the quinoa is done, you will see the grain has a ring of white around the outer edge—this is the germ—and will appear to be transparent. A splash of low-sodium soy with a dab of wasabi and lunch is ready!

And get this, the protein in 1/4 cup of quinoa is about 5g, whereas white rice has around 3.5g.

Simple Flavored Quinoa Recipe

Seasoned Quinoa Dinner

So, the recipe at right (highlighted in blue) makes a fantastic healthy lunch. However, we all know dinner is the main attraction, right!? If you really want a taste experience, try flavoring your quinoa. It's just as easy, simply cut up some veggies, add some spices, and dinner is served! So, let's get cooking!


  • 1 c quinoa (rinse quinoa thoroughly in cold water for 90–120 seconds, set aside to drain)
  • 2 c broth (chicken)
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. dried ginger
  • 1 tbl soy sauce (reduced sodium soy works great here)
  • 2 tsp. clover honey
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 fresh mint leaves (basil works well also)


  1. Place olive oil in a 1–1/2 qt. saucepan and heat on medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add shallots and bell pepper, and cook for 1 minute while stirring occasionally.
  3. Add garlic and cook for another full minute.
  4. Add all other ingredients and spices and quickly stir to blend. The mixture may look like a paste at this point, but this is ok.
  5. Add broth and the rinsed quinoa to the spice mixture.
  6. Give it a stir to blend the spice mixture throughout the broth.
  7. Bring this to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed. This can take a bit longer than the regular 10–15 minutes because the added ingredients may slow the absorption process. I wouldn't go any longer than 17 minutes.
  9. The white germ ring will appear as normal. Fluff with a fork and serve with roasted vegetables (see the recipe below for roasted veggies)!

Organic Quinoa

Easy Quinoa and Vegetable Recipe

Roasted Vegetables Ingredients

  • 1 small head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1–1/2 red bell peppers roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 pint criminy mushrooms cut in quarters
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. dried coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Toss chopped veggies and spices together in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle oil over veggies and coat thoroughly, making sure the spices get on all of the veggies.
  4. On a large cooking sheet, spread veggies evenly.
  5. Place in the oven for 25 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes.
  6. When cooked and a good amount of caramelizing is present, remove it from the oven. They should have a firm texture with some deep-dark-brown coloring on the edges.
  7. Scoop the "flavored quinoa" (recipe above) onto the middle of a serving platter.
  8. Place the roasted veggies around the outer edge of the prepared quinoa.
  9. Serve family-style with hot peppermint tea.
Quinoa for breakfast? You bet! No need to stick with bacon, eggs, and potatoes anymore!

Quinoa for breakfast? You bet! No need to stick with bacon, eggs, and potatoes anymore!

Breakfast Is Off-Limits!

Quinoa for Breakfast

Quinoa has been a wonderful addition to the Northern American menu. We devoured it at lunch and at dinner. However, our breakfast is off-limits! We love our sugary cereals and honey-drenched oats! Eggs benedict, bacon and eggs, pancakes and even steak! Each of these keeps us going strong throughout our morning events, but when we look at the wizard hiding behind the screen of our breakfast menus, what we find is a chubby little guy with high blood pressure, heart disease and lacking the stamina to walk to the mailbox.

Now, I'm not saying quinoa is the save-all of breakfast items, but possibly we should stop and take a peek at some of the benefits of eating a quinoa breakfast and maybe trying a yummy recipe, just this once.

Quinoa in abstract form is still quite inviting!

Quinoa in abstract form is still quite inviting!

Quinoa Trivia

Some interesting facts regarding quinoa and how our bodies delight at the thought of eating such highly nutrient-rich foods may surprise you. For starters, check out these interesting facts;

6 Quinoa Facts

  1. Quinoa acts as a probiotic. It feeds the microflora (good bacteria) in your intestines. It is also easily digested for maximum nutrient absorption.
  2. It is gluten-free. Safe for people with gluten intolerance.
  3. It is a complete protein. Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids. Your body requires all 9 to maintain good muscle health.
  4. It is high in fiber. It has a great amount of fiber to assist in colon health.
  5. It has magnesium. It helps relax the muscles and blood vessels and effects blood pressure. It has high levels of this truly vital nutrient.
  6. It also has manganese and copper. These are important players in the antioxidants created for your body.

Comparing Quinoa With Other Grains

When compared to wheat, barley, and corn, quinoa has been found to offer higher amounts of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc. Knowing all of these facts regarding quinoa may help us to take a step towards good health (as well as pleasing our taste buds).

Now let's give breakfast quinoa a chance! Try this tasty recipe for breakfast and see just how good your day can feel! Believe me; this recipe is GRRReeaa.....well, you get the point!

Berries and Quinoa Recipe


  • 1 c quinoa
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c orange juice
  • 1/4 c craisins (dried cranberries)
  • 1/4 c blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2% milk
  • Honey to taste


  1. Rinse quinoa as always. Add quinoa, water, and juice into a 1–1/2 qt. saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 6 minutes.
  3. Add Craisins, blueberries, and cinnamon.
  4. Simmer for about 9 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and a white ring (germ) is evident.
  5. Serve in a bowl with milk and honey to taste. (Serves 2)

Eating Quinoa

Next time you reach for the rice on your grocer's shelf, stop and re-think it. Grab something full of flavor, fun and nutrient-rich instead! Try the three recipes above, and you will find that the "Superfood Quinoa" is doing you a healthy your taste buds will happily support!

© 2010 India Arnold