The Myth Of The Magical Weight Loss Food

“Should I eat quinoa to lose weight?”

This was a question that I got asked last week, when I was out to dinner with a group of friends.

One of them had recently resolved to lose some weight, and had spent the last 15 minutes peppering me with questions about what he should be doing and which foods he should be eating.

However, his focus wasn’t on which foods would be more ‘healthy’. Instead, he was clearly searching for those special foods that magically induce weight loss.

There have been so many of them over the years…

I’m sure you’ve seen them mentioned in articles, whose headlines promise that if you want to lose some weight, you should make sure to ‘just eat these 3 specific foods’.

In fact, I would say that this is one of the most prominant weight loss misconceptions out there – so I thought it was a good time to address this question properly and clear up some of the confusion.

Tell Me What The Magical Food Is!

As my friend looked back at me, apprehensively waiting for me to either confirm or deny his hopes for quinoa, I didn’t want to burst his bubble (again).

I mean, I knew exactly what he wanted to hear…

He wanted me to say, with unflinching certainty, that quinoa was a great food for losing weight – so just start eating that every night, and you’ll be well on your way to shedding that excess fat.

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Unfortunately, this would be a gross simplification at best – if not an outright lie – so I decided to go with the truth.

“Quinoa is healthy, and a fine food to include in your diet, but it won’t help you lose weight”.

My friend looked disappointed; I had been reluctantly dismantling his preconceptions about effective weight loss foods for the last 15 minutes. It was time to clarify what I meant.
“In the end of the day, it’s all about calories. Calories in vs calories out. So, technically, any food can be included in your weight loss diet, but some are easier to include than others. So while quinoa, bison, and greek yogurt are healthy in many ways, eating them will not cause you to lose weight if your total caloric intake isn’t at an appropriate deficit.”

His face grimaced slightly, not liking what I was saying.

I pressed on: “So, basically, there isn’t any magical food that will make you lose weight. It just doesn’t exist.”

“But what about raspberry ketones? I heard that they can increase your metabolism?” he persisted.

“Nope, that isn’t the secret either, sorry buddy”.

He looked frustrated, and it was a completely understandable reaction…

We are all bombarded constantly by ads telling us that specific foods can help us lose weight.

And while there are elements of truth to this, it isn’t in the way that most people think. Let me explain.

Food Doesn’t Make You Lose Weight

The bottom line is that food, in and of itself, can’t make you lose weight.

All food contains calories, and all calories must either be burned or stored. It is impossible to side-step this fundamental truth.

This means that whenever you eat anything, you are putting energy in your body that will cause you to gain weight if you don’t burn it off.

I don’t care if that energy came from a small cup of blueberries or an oversized Philly cheesesteak. All of it contributes to your total caloric intake.

At this point, you might be thinking “sure, but there are a lot more calories in a Philly cheesesteak than there are in a cup of blueberries.”

You might even think I’m splitting hairs. Certain foods are obviously better than others, right?

And some foods contain many more calories than others, making them the foods that you should eat to lose weight.

Unfortunately, it is just this line of thinking that can actually make weight loss unnecessarily frustrating and difficult. There are 2 main reasons for this.

Mistake #1: Adding Magical Foods Into Your Diet

The first problem results when people take hold of this misinformation, and start adding some of these magical foods into their diet, thinking that there is some specific property of that food that will make them lose weight.

This happens the most with berry-type foods – like blueberries, raspberries, and the infamous acai berries.

People who do this have generally bought into the belief that these foods have some special element that manipulates your body in some way to induce weight loss.

So they sprinkle some berries on their oatmeal in the morning, or take diet pills with some specific food extract in them.

But what they don’t do is change the rest of their diet, which means that the total number of calories eaten per day stays roughly the same.

In fact, this type of thinking can even lead to you consuming more calories – either consciously or unconsciously.

Why deprive yourself when the berries are working their metabolic wonders in the background, right?

Well, even if you assume that some of these foods have elements that could potentially help with weight loss – like increasing your metabolism, or reducing appetite – they are not going to make you lose any significant amount of fat by themselves.

That’s why all of the ads for such food extracts have tiny little print that says “if used in combination with diet and exercise”.

But they aren’t presented like that at all…they are presented as a breakthrough discovery of modern science. The miracle solution for easy weight loss.

So people latch on to these concepts, instead of making the changes that will actually impact their caloric balance, and thus fail to lose weight.

I promise you that there is no food that you can add to your diet that will make you lose weight. It absolutely doesn’t exist. Even negative calorie foods are a farce.

Mistake #2: Substituting Magical Foods Into Your Diet

Now this problem is a little bit different…

Instead of attempting to add in magic berries, other people will swap out foods that they normally eat with other foods that will supposedly contribute to fat loss.

This is what my friend was getting at with the quinoa – he wanted to know if he should have this for dinner instead of couscous or rice.

Unfortunately, this is the wrong question to be asking if fat lose is the end goal.

To see this, let’s take a look at how many calories you’ll find in one serving of quinoa, compared to rice or couscous.

As you can see, there isn’t a substantial difference in calories between the 3 foods.

In fact, 150 grams of quinoa has more calories than either of the other 2 foods, gram for gram.

So why do people suggest eating quinoa to lose weight?

Well, it has certain components that people have latched on to – like being high in protein and fiber.

And both of these can help with weight loss.

Protein will help fill you up, and also requires slightly more energy to break down than carbs – and considerably more than fats.

Fiber also helps to keep you feeling full and satiated, making it less likely that you’ll over eat.

But that’s really about it.

And, really, the minimal increase in fiber/protein that you’re getting from quinoa, compared to rice or couscous, will make absolutely no difference to anything.

On the flip side, when you hear that quinioa is good for weight loss, then it’s incredibly easy to give yourself license to eat more of it.

So for dinner, you end up eating more calories of quinoa than you would have if you had rice or couscous, simply because of this false belief that it is helping you lose weight.

So I Can Just Eat Anything, Then?

Well, yes and no.

I am a firm believer that pretty much all foods can be incorporated into an effective fat loss diet, which makes it considerably easier for most guys to stick with.

That being said, choosing to eat certain kinds of foods can make losing weight easier.

As I said, protein will keep you feeling full for longer, as does fiber.

This can help considerably with dietary compliance, which is one of the most essential components of any effective diet.

And there are numerous health benefits, outside of weight loss, that come from choosing wholesome, unprocessed foods.

But calorie for calorie, there is nothing about these foods that will prevent you from gaining weight if you eat too much of them.

So next time you hear about that new miracle weight loss food, spare yourself the unnecessary frustration and don’t buy into the hype.

What magical weight loss food myths have you come across? Share them with us in the comments!

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I know I usually don’t post on Thursdays, but someone just asked a really great question in the comments section on my Simple Savory Quinoa Recipe post, and after my reply reached 200+ words, I realized I should just give the answer in this post.

So, What’s Up With All the Different Colors of Quinoa?

This super-versatile grain-like seed grows in a rainbow of colors, from white to black to red to green and many colors in between.

White Quinoa

The most common color of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is white.

White quinoa is actually a bit more tan than white, so sometimes it’s called tan quinoa, ivory quinoa, golden quinoa, yellow quinoa, blond quinoa, or just quinoa.

Of all the quinoa colors, white quinoa has the most delicate taste and the lightest texture and it cooks up a bit fluffier than other types of quinoa.

Red Quinoa

Red quinoa (which takes on a brownish hue when cooked) has a richer taste, slightly chewier and heartier texture, and somewhat nuttier flavor compared to white quinoa. It’s often the quinoa of choice for cold salads as it holds its shape better during cooking.

Black Quinoa

Black quinoa has more of an earthy flavor than white quinoa and is ever so slightly sweeter.

Purple Quinoa

Purple quinoa is very similar to red quinoa. It isn’t readily available in grocery stores.

Orange Quinoa

Orange quinoa is a slightly milder version of red quinoa. It is also hard to find.

Pink, Gray, and Green Quinoa

I have no idea 😉 Have you ever tried these colors of quinoa?

Rainbow Quinoa

Rainbow quinoa is a packaged blend of different colors of quinoa – usually white, red, and black. It’s also called tri-color quinoa or quinoa blend.

Which Color Quinoa Should I Use?

While flavor differences are subtle making it possible to use the different colors of this super-versatile grain-like food interchangeably, there are slight texture and taste differences that may influence you to choose one color of quinoa over another for certain dishes.

Because of its fluffy texture and milder flavor, white quinoa works well as a substitute for rice in many dishes. This is not always the case for the black and red; they don’t have the light texture that white quinoa has, and their stronger flavor may overpower other ingredients in the dish. However, black and red quinoa work great in salads or other dishes where the quinoa needs to hold its shape.

Bottom Line: They all work, but you may prefer one over another in particular dishes.

Where Can I Buy Different Colors of Quinoa?

You can sometimes find the different colors of quinoa at large grocery stores.

I like to get my quinoa from Thrive Market or Amazon. Thrive Market also carries sprouted quinoa.

How Long Does It Take to Cook the Different Types of Quinoa?

White quinoa is the fastest-cooking quinoa. .

Red quinoa takes about 3 to 4 minutes longer. And black quinoa needs about 5 to 6 more minutes than white quinoa does.

Personally, I don’t like to purchase rainbow or tri-color quinoa because of the different cooking times needed for each color of quinoa, but many people use it this way and like it.

Is Quinoa Gluten-Free?

Yes. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free.

Is Quinoa Good for Weight Loss?

Yep. Absolutely. In fact, I have a couple amazing quinoa recipes in my 14-day weight loss program.

How Do I Cook Quinoa?

Step-by-step instructions for you right here.

My Quinoa Tastes Bitter! How Can I Make Quinoa Not Taste Bitter?

Been there. Here’s the secret to quinoa that isn’t bitter.

How Can I Get My Kids to Like Quinoa?

Including small amounts of quinoa in foods that they already like will help the taste center in their brain adjust to the new taste without their even knowing it. For example, mix a small amount of cooked white quinoa in meatballs, macaroni and cheese, a casserole, or even cookies. With some time, their taste buds will become more accepting of the quinoa flavor and they’ll be more likely to eat quinoa out-of-disguise.

For a bunch more tips, you can also see my post on How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy.

Can I Freeze Quinoa?

Yes, it freezes and reheats well.

Do You Have Any Recipes for Quinoa?

Yes. Here you go:

What Do You Think?

Do you like quinoa? Have you ever tried other colors of quinoa? How about green or pink quinoa? What’s your favorite way to eat quinoa?

Whether you’ve bought a bag of quinoa every week since 2008 or are thinking about trying it for the very first time, STOP! There’s some important info you should know about the delicious, albeit oddly-named little grain. Before you hit the grocery store, read this. You’ll be glad you did.

1) Pick whatever color you want.

marilyna/getty images

White, red, or black? They’re pretty much all the same nutritionally—so go with what tastes best to you, says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, owner of Nutrition Starring You, LCC. White quinoa is the least bitter of the three, while red and black have a chewier texture that holds up better in cold dishes like salads.

2) Buy pre-rinsed to make your life easier.
Raw quinoa grains are coated with saponin, a compound that acts as a natural pest repellent. (Mother Nature, always thinking!) Eating saponin won’t hurt you—but it tastes really bitter, so it might make you want to toss your perfectly fluffy bowl of quinoa in the trash. Sure, you could just rinse the saponin off your quinoa by running it under cold water before cooking. But most strainers aren’t actually fine enough to keep the grains from getting everywhere, so that can be a hassle. Do yourself a favor and buy quinoa that’s already pre-rinsed. It’s easy to find (the label will say so) and usually isn’t any more expensive.

3) Double-check the label if you’re gluten-free.
Quinoa is touted as a gluten-free grain—and usually, it is. But get this: One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that looked at 15 strains of quinoa found that two actually contained measurable levels of gluten. Even though the quinoa you find at the grocery store is probably free of gluten, if you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant, it always pays to double-check. Before buying, make sure your quinoa is certified gluten-free. (Check out these gluten-free flours.)

MORE: Gluten-Free Quinoa Pancakes with Caramelized Apples and Hazelnuts

4) Don’t stress over organic and non-GMO.
Save your dough for organic apples and grass-fed beef. Because quinoa comes with built-in, nasty-tasting saponin, farmers don’t need to do much in the way of spraying to repel pests. “Unless you insist on buying all organic foods, quinoa probably isn’t the best way to spend your organic food budget,” Harris-Pincus says. And since quinoa isn’t a genetically modified grain, all quinoa in its raw form is non-GMO.

5) Don’t feel bad that it’s grown in South America.

HUGHES Herve / images

You might remember the frenzy that ensued when, a few years back, news broke that quinoa was becoming so popular in the US that the South American farmers who grew it could no longer afford to actually eat the stuff themselves. (The majority of the world’s quinoa is grown in Peru and Bolivia.) Fortunately, that isn’t true: According to NPR, quinoa farmers are still eating the staple grain—and earning big bucks for selling it to us. (Plus, it’s popping up in restaurants all over America.)

6) Feel free to mix it up a little bit.
Yes, we all know that quinoa is crazy good for you. And while eating it every day is totally fine, it’s still smart to make room for other sources of complex carbs. “I’m a believer in including many different whole grains in your diet, because they each offer a different nutritional profile,” Harris-Pincus says. (Though if you’re vegan, making quinoa a staple food makes sense, since it’s the only whole grain that’s a complete protein.) Brown rice and millet bowl, anyone?

These quinoas are top quality: Still not sure where to find the perfect quinoa? We love Ancient Harvest, Bob’s Red Mill, and Arrowhead Mills.

Marygrace Taylor Marygrace Taylor is a health and wellness writer for Prevention, Parade, Women’s Health, Redbook, and others.

10 Things You Need to Know About Quinoa

What is quinoa? How do you pronounce it? Better yet, how do you cook it and what is it good for? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered on all things quinoa. Here are the top 10 things you should know about one of our favorite health foods.

1. It is pronounced keen-wah.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve been saying it incorrectly all this time. We’ve all done it.

2. Quinoa is a grain-like seed.

While quinoa may appear to be a grain and even taste like one, it is actually a seed. It comes from a plant in the Amaranth family that traces back to ancient Peru and Bolivia.

3. It is considered a superfood.

Rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, healthy fats and antioxidants – quinoa is a powerhouse of nutrition.

4. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free!

It makes an excellent replacement for common grains and an excellent addition to a gluten-free diet. Bonus: Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most grains.

5. It is a complete source of protein.

Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a great protein source for vegetarians and vegans.

6. That weird little string coming out of quinoa is normal.

When quinoa is cooked, the “germ” comes out of each seed. It looks like a string and it is nothing to be afraid of. The germ is the embryo of the seed.

7. Quinoa is a rich source of iron.

Iron keeps our red blood cells healthy and carries oxygen from cell to cell while supplying oxygen to our muscles. If you’ve ever been told you’re anemic, quinoa is a great way to get your iron.

8. It has a low glycemic index.

Quinoa won’t make your blood sugar spike and crash like some other grains.

9. Quinoa is a source of healthy fats.

It contains both oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat, as well as alpha-linoleic acid, the type of omega-3s found in plants.

10. It is quick and easy to make.

There are various ways to prepare quinoa, but the simplest way is to add 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and simmer until quinoa has absorbed all of the water and becomes fluffy (about 15 minutes). Ta-da!

Ready to dive into the world of quinoa?

Check out our library of quinoa recipes.

21 Quinoa Facts You Should Know

Quinoa — pronounced “keen-wah” — is becoming increasingly popular in the United States . It has a rich nutty flavor and a texture that’s slightly crunchier than rice when it’s fully cooked. We love this delicious and healthy food, but how much do we actually know about it?
Here are 21 quinoa facts you should know:

#21. Quinoa is a gluten-free food.
#20. Quinoa can be ground into flour and used to make gluten-free pasta.
#19. Quinoa is high in protein; in fact, it’s one of the few plant-based sources of protein that contains all the amino acids that our bodies can’t produce on their own.
#18. One cup of uncooked quinoa will supply you with half of your daily recommended value of fiber.
#17. Quinoa is a good source of iron; one cup of uncooked quinoa has more than 40 percent of your daily recommended value.
#16. Quinoa is high in vitamin B-6, which supports immunity and nervous system function.
#15. Quinoa is an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral needed for strong bones and healthy nerve and muscle function.
#14. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 “The International Year of Quinoa” because of its high nutritive value, impressive biodiversity, and role in combating hunger around the world.
#13. Quinoa is often considered a superfood because it is extremely nutrient dense.
#12. Quinoa comes in several varieties; white, red, and black are most common.
#11. Red quinoa holds its shape better after cooking, making it ideal for cold salads.
#10. Black quinoa has a slightly earthier taste than other varieties.
#9. Quinoa should be rinsed before cooking to remove its natural coating (which is called saponin). Most boxed quinoa is pre-rinsed.
#8. Quinoa can be cooked like rice. Put the quinoa and water into a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and then simmer the quinoa until cooked, about 15 minutes.
#7. Quinoa can be cooked in stock (instead of water) for extra flavor.
#6. Quinoa makes a delicious and nutritious breakfast; cook it with water the night before and then reheat it with a little milk in the morning. Drizzle with honey and top with fresh fruit.
#5. Uncooked quinoa can be stored as long as six months if it’s sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated. (You can also store it at room temperature, but it won’t keep quite as long).
#4. Quinoa was first cultivated in South America, near the Andes Mountains.
#3. Most of the quinoa consumed in the United States still comes from South America, specifically Peru.
#2. Quinoa is considered an “ancient grain” because it has been cultivated for thousands of years and remains largely unchanged.
#1. But quinoa isn’t actually a grain: it’s a seed.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

Facts about Quinoa1

Alexandra Dati, Gail Kauwell, and Amy Simonne2

The US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate nutrition guide recommends that Americans consume half of their grains from whole grain foods. Whole wheat bread and oatmeal are whole grain foods that are familiar to most Americans, but lots of other whole grain foods are also available. An example of a less familiar whole grain food is quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). Quinoa is a nutritious seed that is simple to prepare. It can be served as a hot cereal or side dish, as a cold salad similar to pasta salad, or it can be used in recipes in place of rice or other grains. It also has the advantage of being gluten free, which is a must for people diagnosed with celiac disease. Continue reading to learn more about quinoa and what it has to offer.

Figure 1.

Quinoa is a nutritious seed that serves as a whole grain.


Elena Elisseeva/iStock/

Facts about Quinoa

Quinoa (plant species: Chenopodium quinoa) is a native plant from the Andean region of South America (Repo-Carrasco, Espinoza, & Jacobsen, 2003). The quinoa plant produces seeds that come in different colors, including black, red, and ivory (Vega-Gálvez et al., 2010). Ivory, sometimes referred to as yellow, is the variety most commonly sold in stores. It is noteworthy that the quinoa plant can be grown without pesticides, because the plant produces a natural substance that prevents the invasion of pests, so additional chemicals are not needed for its growth (De Geyter, Lambert, Geelen, & Smagghe, 2007). However, whether quinoa can be labeled as “organic” depends on how it was grown and produced.

The substances that prevent pest damage in quinoa also give it a bitter flavor. For this reason, quinoa is soaked and rinsed multiple times before it is packaged for sale (Ruales & Nair, 1992). This process results in quinoa that has a milder, well-liked flavor. However, quinoa seeds are not the only edible form of the plant—the seeds can be made into flakes or ground into a flour.

Quinoa Nutrition

Quinoa has several important nutritional benefits that make it a good choice when searching for alternatives to whole grain foods. First, it does not contain gluten (Vega-Gálvez et al., 2010). Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and products made with these foods. Because quinoa is naturally gluten-free, it can be an ideal substitute for whole grains that contain gluten and can be a great way for people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or a wheat allergy to add variety to their diet (Vega-Gálvez et al., 2010). (For more information about gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, see the EDIS publication FY1369, Understanding Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease.) Compared with other common grains—such as couscous (ground hard wheat), white rice, and barley—quinoa is comparable and even provides higher levels of many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals per serving (United States Department of Agriculture, Release 26) (Table 1). Similar to whole grains, quinoa provides a source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers that can help maintain intestinal health (Repo-Carassco et al., 2003; Dixit, Azar, Gardner, & Palaniappan, 2011). People who have high intakes of dietary fiber tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar, and the soluble fiber in quinoa may play a role in reducing heart disease (Dixit et al., 2011). Quinoa, which is also naturally low in sodium (USDA, Release 26), is a good choice for everyone, especially people with high blood pressure and other diseases where consuming too much sodium is a concern.

Table 1.

Nutrient comparison for common grains (1 cup cooked).

Storing and Preparing Quinoa

Quinoa can be stored at room temperature in its original packaging, but it should be used before its “best by” date. The seed form of quinoa can be used as a replacement for rice, couscous, or pasta in a one-to-one ratio (i.e., substitute one cup of quinoa for one cup of another grain listed in Table 1). Quinoa is prepared similarly to rice with two parts liquid to one part dry seed. Water or a broth, such as vegetable or chicken, can be used to make quinoa, but if broth is used, choose low-sodium or sodium-free broth to keep the sodium content low. To cook quinoa, add the seeds and liquid to a pot and cook over high heat. Once a vigorous boil is reached, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes. For recipe and serving suggestions (and any other preparation details), refer to the package directions.

Adding Quinoa to Your Diet

Quinoa can be enjoyed hot or cold and in many different recipes. The type of quinoa used in a recipe (i.e., red, black, or ivory) is up to you, but some types work better in certain recipes. For example, red quinoa holds its shape the best after cooking, so it is particularly good for cold salads or other dishes when a distinct shape is desired or when you want to add color to a meal (Whole Grain Council, 2013). Black quinoa has more of an earthy, sweet taste and maintains its unique color when cooked (Whole Grain Council, 2013). While black and red quinoa can be used in these specific cases, ivory is the most common type found in stores, and it can be used in place of the other color varieties for any recipe using the seed form of quinoa. Cooked quinoa can also be eaten for breakfast, with honey, almonds, and/or fruit to add taste, texture, and color. Another great way to add quinoa to your diet is in casseroles or soups or to use it in place of breadcrumbs when baking chicken or fish. Additionally, quinoa in the form of flour is a great alternative in gluten-free baking. Quinoa can be used in place of white or whole wheat flour when baking. For other ideas on how to include quinoa in your diet, try searching the Internet or browsing through cookbooks that focus on alternatives to grains.


Quinoa is a food that counts as a whole grain and can add variety to your diet. It also has the added benefits of being gluten-free and easy to prepare. It can be enjoyed at breakfast as a hot cereal, or it can be served at other meals as a hot or cold side dish. The next time you are looking to add a food that counts toward your intake of whole grains, or you do not know what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, then try some quinoa!


Try this simple recipe and see how delicious this whole-grain equivalent food can be.

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Makes 7 tightly packed cups

Figure 2.

Southwest quinoa salad made with quinoa, corn, reduced-sodium black beans, and more.


Toru Uchida/iStock/


  • 1 cup dry quinoa

  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (sliced)

  • 2 cups fresh spinach (cleaned and chopped)

  • 1 can (15.52 oz) reduced-sodium black beans (rinsed, drained, and dried)

  • 1 cup frozen corn (thawed)

  • 1 tsp minced garlic

  • Add diced avocado (if desired)

  • Cayenne pepper to taste (if desired)


  • Bring quinoa, broth, and water to a vigorous boil. Reduce to low heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.

  • While quinoa is cooking, mix together tomatoes, spinach, black beans, and corn in a large bowl.

  • When quinoa is ready, add it to other ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

  • Add garlic and cayenne. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed.

  • Salad can be eaten right away, but may taste better when chilled.

  • Additional spices can be added for desired taste.

Nutritional Information

Serving size: 1/2 cup salad

  • Calories: 85 kcals

  • Total Fat: 1 g

  • Saturated Fat: 0 g

  • Trans Fat: 0 g

  • Cholesterol: 0 g

  • Sodium: 82 mg

  • Total Carbohydrates: 16 g

  • Dietary Fiber: 3 g

  • Sugars: 1 g

  • Protein: 4 g


This document is FCS80035, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 2014. Revised April 2017. Visit the EDIS website at

Alexandra Dati, MS, RD, LD/N, clinical dietitian, UF Health/Shands Hospital; Gail Kauwell, RDN, LDN, FAND, professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition; and Amy Simonne, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

10 facts about quinoa

1. Pseudo cereal

Quinoa is not a grass like wheat or barley. It belongs to the same family as spinach and chard. The leaves of this large annual plant are eaten the same way, and its seeds grow in clusters, like currants.

2. GF (Gluten-Free)

Quinoa is a good choice for people with celiac disease who cannot eat gluten.

3. Bye Bye Bitter

Some types of quinoa have not been stripped of their protective coating, called saponins, which gives them a bitter taste. To avoid this, rinse in water and rub with your fingers before cooking.

4. Old-Timer or Newbie

This little grain, grown for thousands of years in the Andes Mountains of South America, is gaining more and more followers. Take a look: you can now find it in most grocery stores alongside rice or in the organic section.

5. Pretty Colours

White quinoa has a lighter, fluffier texture than the heavier grains of red and black quinoa. Mix them up for a nice visual effect.

6. Sensational in Salad

Soft and slightly crunchy at the same time, cooked quinoa is ideal in salads. Make an amazing taboulleh by adding some diced tomato and cucumbers, lemon juice, a bit of garlic, dash of olive oil, fresh mint and parsley!

7. Ready in a Flash

Cook it like rice: 500 ml (2 cups) of lightly salted boiling water per 250 ml (1 cup) of quinoa. Reduce heat, cook and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes before stirring with a fork. Drain if needed. It can also be cooked in a lot of water like pasta, but you must drain before serving. Once cooked, quinoa will keep in the fridge for a week.

8. Incan Treasure

Few plants can boast of having all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is a complete protein, even compared to casein, a milk protein. As an added bonus, quinoa is a source of iron and fibre. So there you have it: an extremely nutritious grain that is invaluable on your menu, whether served vegetarian or not.

9. Good Tip To Try

Update your pilaf, soup or stuffed vegetable recipes by replacing the rice or barley you normally use with quinoa.

10. Grains etc.

Besides grains, quinoa comes in other forms. It is made into pasta, flakes (a bit like oatmeal) and flour.

Tell me about quinoa

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