How to Cook Quinoa: Recipes, Tips & Tricks

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Dear Hungry Girl,

I've had quinoa a few times now, and I really love it. But I'm totally intimidated to make it myself. Can you give me a beginner's guide?

Curious About Quinoa

Hi C-A-Q,

I get where you're coming from... The itty-bitty seeds can be a bit intimidating. But once you get some simple basics down, whipping up dishes with quinoa will be a complete breeze!

Hungry Girl: How to Cook Quinoa First, some superfood facts... A 1/4-cup serving of uncooked quinoa has about 170 calories, 2.5g fat, 5mg sodium, 30.5g carbs, 3g fiber, 1g sugars, and 5.5g protein (PointsPlus® value 4*). Not only does it have a nice combo of fiber and protein, it's also a complete protein, a.k.a. great for vegetarians. Like rice, it expands while it cooks. So that 1/4 cup of dry quinoa will yield around 3/4 cup. Not bad!

Step 1: Measure it out. Stick with a single serving: 1/4 cup of uncooked quinoa. Otherwise, it's easy to overeat, and the calories do add up pretty quickly.

Step 2: Give it a good rinse. You want to thoroughly rinse the micro seeds to get rid of the slightly bitter coating. Rinsing also removes any inedible particles that tend to pop up in quinoa. A fine-mesh strainer is best, but it's not your only option. If you have only a traditional strainer, just place a paper towel between the quinoa and the strainer to keep it from sneaking through. You can also look for quinoa that comes pre-rinsed.

Step 3: Season it up. When it comes to breakfast dishes, I like to add cinnamon, vanilla extract, and just a dash of salt. After it cooks, I stir in a no-calorie sweetener packet. As for lunch/dinner dishes, some chopped garlic is fantastic! Play around, and add the seasonings you like best.

Step 4:
Add liquid. For a creamy hot breakfast, add 1 cup liquid -- a combo of fat-free milk (or your milk swap of choice) and water. For a standard savory dish, use half a cup of liquid -- broth and/or water.

Step 5:
Cook it up. In a small nonstick pot, bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. For that breakfast bowl, cook and stir until thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. For the savory stuff, cover and simmer for 12 minutes, or until water has been absorbed and quinoa is fully cooked.

Ta-da... You're officially a quinoa pro. Now hit the kitchen, and put your newfound knowledge to good use!


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Today, February 11th, is National Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day. (Does this mean it's permissible to wail over milk spillage every other day of the year?) Celebrate by putting some low-cal milk in a sippy cup for safety...

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*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints
® trademark.

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