Decoding Quinoa

Decoding Quinoa

We can thank the Incans for the “mother of all grains” dubbed as quinoa. It may be hard to pronounce (said KEEN-wah) but this nutrient-rich little seed is extremely easy to cook and use. Quinoa is a powerhouse of calcium, fibre and protein AND non-allergenic making it a safe choice for vegans, celiacs and those with whole food allergies.

Served hot or cold/sweet or savoury, quinoa comes in an array of colours with a mild taste and versatile texture. The most popular and easy to find varieties are ivory quinoa, red quinoa and black quinoa.

Last year may have been declared “The International Year of the Quinoa”1 but quinoa's reign as one of the healthiest foods of all time lives on and gave us a full year to refine our favourite Fresh St. recipes using each variety of quinoa.


Ivory Quinoa

Ivory quinoa, commonly just plainly known as quinoa, is what you often see in your grocery store either packaged or in bulk. The tan coloured seed has the most delicate taste and the lightest texture of the collection and cooks up a bit fluffier than other types of quinoa making it ideal for thick, savoury dishes.

Try it with: Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

You Will Need:

-      1 medium sweet potato (about 6 oz), peeled and chopped

-      1/2 red onion, diced

-      1/2 tsp salt

-      1/2 tsp pepper

-      2 garlic cloves, minced

-      1 tbsp olive oil

-      1/2 cup cooked ivory quinoa

-      1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

-      1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated

-      2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

-      2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

-      1 large egg, lightly beaten


-      Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add 1/2 tbsp olive oil.

-      Add in sweet potato, onion, 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper, stir, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove lid and add garlic, stirring for 30 seconds.

-      Put potato mixture in a large bowl and add quinoa, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs with remaining salt and pepper and mix well.

-      Add in egg then mix.

-      Using your hands, form four equally-sized patties.

-      Heat the skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.

-      Add cakes and cook for 2-4 minutes per side, until golden brown.


Red Quinoa

Red quinoa (which takes on a brownish hue when cooked) has a richer taste, slightly chewier texture, and somewhat nuttier flavour when compared to ivory quinoa. Cooks report that it holds it shape after cooking better than the other varieties, making it more suitable for cold salads or oatmeals.

Try it With: Quinoatmeal with Apple and Toasted Walnuts

You Will Need:

-      1/4 cup red quinoa

-      1/4 stee-cut oats

-      1/2 cup almond milk

-      1 pinch ground cinnamon

-      1 tbsp walnuts, chopped

-      1/2 apple, shredded


-      The night before cooking, rinse quinoa throughly and drain. Combine oats and quinoa in a medium saucepan and cover with 1 cup of water.

-      The next morning, bring oats and quinoa to a boil. Stir in almond milk, salt and cinnamon and reduce heat to low.

-      Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes then let cool.

-      Top quinoatmeal with apple, walnuts, and more cinnamon.


Black Quinoa

Black quinoa has more of an earthy flavour than ivory quinoa and is ever so slightly sweeter. Pair it with a fruit and cheese medley to add some crisp to your recipe and be mindful that black quinoa takes the longest to cook.

Try it With: Mediterranean Stuffed Tomatoes with Quinoa

You Will Need:

-      1 cup cooked red quino

-      8 medium on-the-vine tomatoes

-      1/3 can quartered artichokes, roughly chopped

-      1/2 cup full-fat feta

-      15 kalamata olives, sliced thin

-      1 tbsp olive oil

-      2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

-      Ground sea salt (to taste)


-      Cook your quinoa: Measure out ⅓ cup of quinoa, pour into a mesh colandar, and rinse the quinoa under running water for a minute.

-      Pour the rinsed quinoa into a small pot and add ⅔ cup water (you’re going for a 1:2 ratio of quinoa and water).

-      Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit for a few minutes, and fluff with a fork. ⅓ cup uncooked quinoa should yield a little over one cup cooked quinoa.

-      Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and core the tomatoes by slicing off the top ⅛ inch of each tomato. Run a small knife vertically around the core. Be careful not to cut through the bottom. Use your finger to gently pull out the core and use the knife to clean out any excess left inside.

-      In a medium bowl, mix together the filling (cooked quinoa, feta, artichokes, olives, olive oil and garlic)

-      Use a spoon to stuff the tomatoes with the quinoa mixture.

-      Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the feta starts to turn golden.

Preparing quinoa is a pinch: give it a vigorous rinse to rid any bitterness coating the seed and boil in a saucepan with a 1:2 ratio of water. Cook until a light, feathery texture is achieved (normally 10-15 minutes).

For a fluffy savoury dish opt for ivory quinoa, for a tinge of nutty flavour choose red quinoa and for a lick of crispy sweetness black quinoa is your pick. Or go wild in the kitchen and try your own pairings. No matter the combination, quinoa is a surefire protein and calcium rich alternative to grains like rice, flour and pasta. See what all the fuss is about and try the different types of quinoa for yourself!

Don't let the intimidating pronunciation scare you away—our in-store Fresh St.ers will make sure you find what you're looking for.

Decoding Quinoa   Decoding Quinoa   Decoding Quinoa   Decoding Quinoa