Quinoa: Friend or Foe?


In recent years, quinoa has grown in popularity and can now be found at mainstream restaurants.

The gluten-free grain is high in protein and fiber, and has been revered as a healthy alternative to rice and pasta.

But I remember the first time I tried it — I was less than enthused.

I was a teenager at the time and my mother had just bought a bag of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) at the health food store.

We hoped it would taste delicious like rice and its low-fat properties would help us lose weight.

Boy, were we wrong.

It was almost as bad as the vegan hot dog we’d tried at some point that tasted like a liquid smoke-flavored sponge.

So for many years I swore-off the petite, healthy grain.

It wasn’t until I started visiting the juice store Urban Remedy in San Rafael about a year ago that I decided to give quinoa another chance.


Quinoa, flavored with salt, fresh garlic, and rosemary



I bought one of the store’s kale salads that had been tossed with quinoa. I figured if they had made kale taste good to my taste buds, maybe they could make quinoa taste good.

It ended up being surprisingly delicious!

While most health food folks are familiar with quinoa, there are still those out there who have never heard of it.

I recently went out to dinner with my mother-in-law at an Applebee’s and she couldn’t figure out what the “QUIN-OH-UH” side dish was on the menu.

She ended up trying the dish, but was unimpressed.

In her defense, I believe the dish wasn’t very good because it tasted sweet instead of savory.

On Sunday night I decided to make quinoa for the first time since I was a teenager to introduce my husband to the grain.

I kept it very simple. I cooked one cup of quinoa in two cups of chicken broth.

I seasoned it with a little olive oil, salt, fresh garlic, rosemary and dried parsley.

The result?

Pretty darn tasty!

I definitely plan on making it again and exploring new ways to season and spice up a quinoa dish.

I’m also inspired to expand my horizons and try both millet and amaranth.

We’ll see if those are as tasty as the quinoa.


[Editor’s Note: Quinoa, a native plant of the Andean region of Peru, is grown locally at Novato’s Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden.]



visit megan hansen’s page for her bio, schedule and updates