Quinoa, Quinoa, Quinoa


When I was thirteen, I spent a week in Peru.  It was, in some respects, a great trip – Machu Picchu, llamas, rafting on the Urubama River, and purchasing panchos.  I chronicled the adventure in a journal under the pen name Marcia Smith, marked it top secret, and left threatening messages to anyone (i.e. my brother) who might dare to read it.

In that journal are descriptions of a spitting alpaca named Pedro, huge starry skies and general musings on Inca civilization.  The journal’s theme, however, is nausea, and ultimately it’s a chronicle of all the places I threw up in Peru. Thanks to a combination of altitude sickness, a very whitebread North American digestive tract, and a fear of being served guinea pig, Peru and I didn’t mix well.

In general, I’m not adventurous when it comes to trying new food, and had I not developed type 1 diabetes, I’d still be living on pizza, bagels, and cereal.  You’d never have been able to convince me to try a Peruvian food.  But with diabetes and the desperate need to find something filling to eat came my first encounter with quinoa, the Peruvian seed or pseudocereal rumored to have a mild effect on blood sugar (quinoa has a GI of 35.)  A complete protein, quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids. It also provides fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A and E.

About a year ago I bought my first package of quinoa.  I cooked a cup as I would have cooked rice, looked into the pot, decided it was too weird looking to taste, and then tossed the whole thing into the trash.  My husband, the family cook, stepped in and took over.  He has since created so many delicious quinoa recipes, that I now eat and enjoy quinoa several times a week.  Here are some of our favorite recipes:

Quinoa With Cherry Tomatoes


1 cups white quinoa, rinsed

1 large onion, chopped

10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 tablespoons olive oil

Half cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

salt (to taste)


Heat the olive oil in a medium pot, sauté the onion until the onion is soft and translucent (5-7 minutes). Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes,stirring occasionally until soft. Add the lemon juice and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.

Using the same pot, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer.  Add salt and cook until the liquid is totally absorbed. Set aside and let stand for 10 minutes.

Mix the tomato and onion mixture into the quinoa.

Serve hot or refrigerate and serve cold.

Serves: 4

Carbohydrates per serving: 29g

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad


1 cup quinoa, prepared and refrigerated  (see below)

4 cucumbers, finely chopped

1/2 purple onion, finely chopped

½ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Juice of two lemons

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Serve cold.

Advance Preparation: to make 1 cup of prepared quinoa, cook ½ cup of rinsed quinoa with 1 cup of water until water is absorbed. Set aside for 5 minutes before removing from pot. This will make the quinoa fluffier. Refrigerate quinoa for 1-2 hours.

Variations: Add a small minced tomato for color and flavor.

Serves: 4

Carbohydrate per Serving: 11g

Quinoa With Mushrooms and White Wine


2 cups white quinoa, rinsed

1 large onion, chopped

1/4 pound button mushrooms, cleaned  and chopped

4 tablespoons  olive oil

2 cups dry white wine (like Chardonnay , Sauvignon blanc or Pinot Grigio)

1-2 teaspoons salt (to taste)


Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pot, add the quinoa and stir. Add 3 cups of water and 1 cup white wine, cover leaving open a crack and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid is totally absorbed. Set aside and let stand for 10 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, sauté the onion and mushrooms until the onion is soft and translucent ( 5-7 minutes). Add the wine,  bring to a simmer and let cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, ( 5-7 minutes).

Mix the mushrooms and onion into the quinoa and serve hot.

Serves: 6

Carbohydrates per serving: 35g

*Rinsing quinoa is important since the seeds are coated with saponins, naturally-occurring plant chemicals meant to keep insects from eating the plant, that can cause a bitter taste. Most quinoa is rinsed prior to packaging, but it’s best to be safe and rinse it again.

***Quinoa plant photo by: Maurice Chéde, Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons


Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike Behnken Personal Trainer

Quinoa is good, so is rice, I hate when people make quinoa out to be superior to rice when in fact it is not going to matter unless all you eat in your diet is quinoa or rice by themselves.

12 years ago

just made the top recipe–turned out awesome!

Michelle S
Michelle S
12 years ago

You MUST try Dreena Burton’s Quinoa Spring Salad in “Vive le Vegan”.  Delicious!  And it is amazing how little insulin I need for something so tasty!

12 years ago

Marcia, I’m so glad you posted these recipes. We loved the quinoa that Mikey made, and the girls polished off what was left over. Today I am going to attempt making it myself for the first time.

Copyright © 2009-2021 Diabetes Media Foundation, All Rights Reserved.
ASweetLife™ is a trademark of the Diabetes Media Foundation, All Rights Reserved.
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x