Taste Test: Quinoa

Whole grains like quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) are a really good for you. But are they good and yummy? I decided to test it out.

Total Rating for Quinoa = 3-1/2 plates*

  • Yumminess = 1
  • Goodness = 1
  • Easy to find & prepare = 1/2
  • Yummy to family = 1
*Read about my 5-plate Taste Test scale here.

Getting to Know Great Grains: Quinoa

This taste test is inspired by the article Get to Know 6 Great Grains in Diabetes Forecast.

Whole grains like quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) are a really good for you. But are they good and yummy? I decided to test it out.

Source: ZiaC
1 cup quinoa with chicken

The first part of this adventure was trying to find quinoa. The national chain grocery store where I do my weekly shoping didn’t have it. Normally I shop at this grocery store and a national warehouse store—that’s it. But I decided to to try one more place…

I found quinoa at our local health food store (along with some of the other grains listed in the article that inspired this taste test). Once I found it I was in for a shock. At US$12.79 for a 26 oz. bag, quinoa certainly doesn’t come cheap! By comparison, this week’s grocery store ad has a 20 lb. sack of white rice listed for US$12. Translating the price into the per-serving cost (US$0.80) made quinoa seem more reasonable, especially since it’s a complete protein.

Making (very) basic quinoa was very easy. I put 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of vegetable broth in the rice cooker and in less than 20 minutes I had fluffy little balls of grain ready to eat. The bottom of the pot was a little crispy, but the grain on top fluffed up nicely.

Quinoa has yumminess potential. While it didn’t seem to have much taste on its own, it did take on the taste of the vegetable broth. Quinoa calls out for spice or mixing it with something flavorful.

The texture is a bit like Cream of Wheat. The grains are little balls, so there’s not really anything to chew on.

Dave pointed out that on its own quinoa isn’t very satisfying for a protein. Again it really should be seasoned and paired with something more hearty.

Quinoa’s nutritional credentials are impressive. It’s a whole grain, a complete protein and a good source of iron with no saturated fat. A generous serving of one-cup cooked quinoa has 30 grams of carbohydrates, compared to 44 grams in a cup of cooked rice.

The family gave quinoa a thumbs up all around. Everyone said it was good and they would eat it again.

Quinoa is certainly worth another try. I’m looking for recipes. Maybe putting it with some black beans, peppers, cumin and cilantro. In a pilaf with fine cut carrots, peppers, onions and garlic. Or as the base for a cold curry salad. After all I’ve still got 12 raw servings in my fridge waiting to be served!

Other Notes
Whole grains, like quinoa, need to be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. They have oils in them can go rancid if stored at warm temperatures.


5 thoughts on “Taste Test: Quinoa”

  1. You can only get protein in two forms: vegetable, with carbs as in beans or whole grains or in animal, which always includes animal fat. The disadvantage being that fat has twice the calories of carbs (whole or otherwise). So if anyone wants to tell you that anything is PURE protein they are wrong. Frequently the combining of legumes (beans, peanuts, pulses) and whole grains (wheat, rice, barley, quinoa) provides a COMPLETE protein by
    providing all the required almino acids in a chain. Quinoa is too exotic for me when so many other grains are available for less money. Again a pilaf or salad made with other stuff is tastier.

    1. @Olivia I don’t suggest eliminating carbs or fat. That would be extreme and unhealthy. Eating a balance of carbs, protein and fat is best not just nutritionally but also in terms of taste and feeling satisfied.


  2. Corinna, I was interested in your blog because my BF and I both have Type 2 diabetes, and I cook healthful food as one way to help manage the disease.

    There are so many excellent grains, such as quinoa, cracked wheat, bulgar, and pearled barley which I’ve been using over the last 5 or 6 years. One really excellent cookbook is “366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains” by Andrea Chesman. She has wonderful recipes for soups, salads, main dishes, muffins, and so on. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    Another tip: Look for quinoa, beans, rice, and grains in stores which have bulk containers, that is, containers from which you can dispense the item into a bag below the container. You can buy as much or as little as you like. Generally, the price for items sold this way is much less than for the same items sold in boxes.

    1. @Madeleine Thanks for your interest in Spinning Dinner Plates. I am just starting out and appreciate suggestions of foods and recipes to check out.

      Looking at the bulk containers is a great tip. Unfortunately, our local health food store is on the small side and didn’t have any quinoa there.


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