Ash Makes Quinoa

Every single time I write a post like this, it starts the same way…with a disclaimer.

Let me make it short and succinct. I don’t cook. I don’t claim to know how to cook. I don’t enjoy cooking.

There, it’s been said. However, I get by. I try things, and sometimes they work. I share these things occasionally in hope that you might also appreciate new and easy ideas.

I am a creature of habit. If it’s easy to make and enjoyable to eat then it probably becomes a part of my regular routine. This is why I love quinoa. Quinoa is so super simple to make, and it is yummy. Even better, it is basically a naked palette (not of the Urban Decay variety) for any flavours that you love.

Let’s brush up on our quinoa knowledge first, shall we?

Most importantly, it is pronounced “keen-wah”. You would think most of the world knows this now, but I assure you, I have heard some “kin-o-wah” pronunciations from those who I shall not name on TNL to protect their anonymity and pride.


There are over 120 varieties of quinoa. Most commonly, you will find red, white and black at your supermarket of choice. Quinoa is categorized as a pseudo – cereal. That is, it can be prepared as a grain, but is technically not a grain at all. Believe it or not, quinoa is related to beets and spinach. Often referred to as a superfood, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and is high in calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B and fiber. It is also wheat and gluten free. No wonder people love this stuff.

In 1955, a researcher named Phillip White made the following declaration about quinoa, “while no single food can supply all the essential like sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close to any other in the plant or animal kingdom.” Big words.

History lesson complete, now you see why this stuff is all the rage these days. And it tastes good to boot? Sign. Me. Up.

I make quinoa often, and in big batches, usually on Sundays for the work week ahead. I often get asked how I like to prepare quinoa so I thought it could be nice to share a couple of my favourite simple quinoa “recipes” ( I feel guilty even using that word to describe these) here on TNL.

Puhleeeze…don’t consider these to be set in stone recipes. Chuck what you don’t like and add what you do. Totally just meant to get the wheels turning in your brain when it comes to quinoa creations.

I will be showing and telling two of my go to quinoa dishes, one savory and the other sweet. But first, you are going to have to cook you some quinoa.

Please know that if precise measurements are your thing then you’re probably on the wrong blog because they aren’t really my jam. Foolproof quinoa to liquid ratio is 1:2. So, to cook a cup of quinoa, begin with two cups of liquid. I totally eyeball this, and I find it really forgiving. No need to be exact.

For this recipe I started with water (that looked about double the amount of quinoa in my package) and brought it to a boil. Once water is boiling you can reduce heat to the lowest setting, add quinoa and cover the pot.


At this point you can contemplate life. Update your Facebook status. Post a pic of you making quinoa to Instagram. Catch up on reading The Neon Leopard.

After 15-20 minutes…quinoa magic. All of the liquid will have disappeared and you’re left with a dense pot of quinoa. Use a fork to fluff it up by gently scraping at the quinoa until it is all separated and gorgeous.


Now, the world is yours. This quinoa is your b… umm… flavour palette.


I’m really very proud of that name.

So for this tasty dish I really like fresh Mexican inspired flavours and textures. I wash and set aside, halved grape tomatoes, canned unsweetened corn kernels, canned black beans, chopped cucumber and loads of fresh cilantro ( my favourite herb).


To  make it tasty,  I like to add hot sauce, olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice.


Then toss the whole shebang together with cooled cooked quinoa and voila…Mexi-quinoa!


The Mexi-quinoa keeps really well so I like to portion it out for the week. It can be enjoyed hot or cold. Play around with the ingredients and add what you have around. Try avocado, salsa or sour cream. Do you, boo.



Ok, not as proud of that name. But this is usually my go to breakfast choice. It was recently recommended to me that I try consuming protein within half an hour of getting up in the morning in order to keep headaches away. So, this breakfast quinoa makes a perfect grab and go start to my day. It can also satisfy a sweet tooth through the day.

To start, I prepare quinoa as above, but using coconut milk instead of water.


This gives the quinoa a delicious coconut infusion. Yum.

I then add unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds, dried cranberries, cinnamon and agave syrup to the coconut quinoa.



I then like to portion the mixture into little containers and add some more cinnamon on top before refrigerating. This one definitely tastes best right out of the fridge.


There you have it…break-quinoa.

Both stupid simple quinoa ideas, but I hope it got you thinking about ways to infuse this easy-peasy super food into your cooking. Please let me know some of your go-to quinoa recipes and ideas below so that I can give them a go if you try these, I would love to hear about it.

Happy Quinoa-ing!

3 thoughts on “Ash Makes Quinoa

  1. Thanks for sharing! The Mexi-quinoa looks delicious! Not so sure about the breakfast one….but willing to give it a try!

  2. Embarrassing fact: I have had a box of quinoa in my cupboard for well over half a year (better check that expiry date) and I have yet to make anything with it because I don’t know how! So, thank you.

  3. Quinoa is absolutely one of my fave foods! I am no chef either so I love its simplicity and that it’s pretty much foolproof!!! I love to add tomatoes and cucumber to mine and sometimes I’ll throw in some fresh mozzarella cubed and just dive right in! And of course – hot sauce on everything!!!

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