Tasty gluten free quinoa recipes

Let's start with one of my favorite quinoa recipes! Then further down the page you can learn more about this fantastic ingredient, how to cook quinoa, and the nutrition it provides. 

Quinoa  is one of those ingredients that has multiple uses on a gluten free diet. You can cook it as a grain, and also grind it to use as a gluten free flour for baking.

quinoa in bowl

Quinoa with sweetcorn, onions and sultanas

This super simple recipe is made from store-cupboard ingredients making it ideal for a quick supper dish.

These quantities are enough to serve one person for a quick supper dish but can easily be increased to feed more when required.

If you do have some left over, it is great served cold as a packed lunch for the next day.

  • 1/2 cup/3oz/75g quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2oz/50g tinned sweetcorn
  • 1oz/25g sultanas
  • 2oz/50g grated cheddar cheese
  • splash tamari soy sauce

Cook the quinoa as described below.  While it is cooking, fry the chopped red onion in a little vegetable oil in a frying pan.

When the quinoa is cooked and has absorbed all the water, shake in a splash of tamari soy sauce to taste.  Then stir in the fried onion, sweetcorn, and sultanas. Heat through then add the grated cheese and stir until the cheese melts.

Serve and enjoy.

This filling dish has a lovely cheesy, nutty flavor. I will be adding more quinoa recipes in the future so watch this space.

What is quinoa?

Often mistakenly called a grain, quinoa is actually the seed of a herb-like plant, from the Goosefoot family.

Although recently introduced to the western diet it is not a new crop. It was grown by the Incas in the South American Andes many thousands of years ago!

Due to its high nutritional value they called it the Mother Grain and it was a staple part of their diet. Quinoa was ideally suited to the Andean region as it didn't mind the high altitude or poor soil.

You don't have to live in South America to enjoy it nowadays, you can buy quinoa online in various forms.

Cooking quinoa

One of the problems with growing many crops is keeping the birds away! Quinoa has a coating called Saponin that birds don't like, which protects it. However this coating is also distasteful to us, being bitter, and is mildly toxic.

It is important to rinse and soak the seeds to remove this before using it, something that is normally done before the seed is boxed up ready for sale.

However, it doesn't hurt to make sure all the saponin is removed, by tipping your quinoa into a sieve and holding it under running water for a few minutes.


To serve four people you will need...

  • 1 cup/6oz/150gm of washed quinoa
  • two cups of water.

Put the ingredients into a large saucepan (quinoa will swell to four times its volume when cooked) and season to taste with salt.

Bring the pan to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

It is simple to tell when the seeds are cooked as they will turn translucent with a white edge and centre to each seed, as seen in the photo above.

Quinoa nutrition

From a celiac's point of view, perhaps the greatest value of quinoa is the fact that it is totally gluten free and easy to digest. When you add to that its wonderful nutritional qualities you can see why the Inca's prized it so highly.

Compared to other cereals such as rice and wheat, quinoa has less fat and much more protein.

In fact is is considered a complete protein as it contains all 8 essential amino acids necessary for our bodies growth and repair, including lysine.

Most grains do not contain any lysine, a protein normally only found in meat, fish and eggs, making quinoa an ideal food for gluten free vegans and vegetarians.

So what is so wonderful about lysine?

  • Lysine helps the body to produce carnitine, a substance that lowers the bad cholesterol (or LDL) in your blood. This means that eating quinoa is beneficial to those suffering from high blood pressure, anyone with cardivascular (heart) problems and postmenopausal women.
  • Lysine also helps in the production of collagen, the protein needed for strong bones and cartilage. This is especially important to celiac sufferers, as eating gluten laden foods before they were diagnosed may lead to problems with osteoporosis, or brittle bones, in later life.
  • Quinoa also has high levels of calcium, again beneficial to our bones, nails and teeth.
  • When you are first diagnosed with celiac it is common to feel depressed and low levels of lysine can make this problem even worse. Eating quinoa can assist in building up these levels, which in turn may help alleviate asthma and chronic viral infections.
  • A condition that often goes hand in hand with celiac is diabetes. To control the blood sugar levels it is important to eat foods with a low glycemic index. Quinoa has a GI value of 53 making it an ideal substitute for other grains in this situation.
  • In addition quinoa is a high-fibre source of phosphorus, iron, magnesium, vitamin E and several B vitamins. Truly a superfood!
Debbie Johnson uses quinoa in her wonderful e-book of healthy, low GI, gluten free recipes. You can Click Here! for more details.

Uses for quinoa

This nutritious food can be used as a substitute for rice, potatoes or pasta to accompany a meal. It can also be used in salads, stews, pilafs, stuffings and desserts. It works well as a thickener in soups and can be used to make a quinoa porridge for breakfast, served with brown sugar and dried fruit.

As I mentioned at the top of this page, ground into a flour it can be used in gluten free baking. Normally it would be mixed with other flours such as sorghum, potato starch and tapioca starch to achieve a smooth, moist combination. I use quinoa flour in my favourite gluten free bread recipe.


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