Keen-what?: Quinoa 101

Lizzie Leboyer

Ah, quinoa. One man’s superfood and another man’s…..nothing. The other weekend, I brought a packed dinner with me to have for a babysitting job. Just as I got the kids to settle down and watch a movie, I unpacked my tupperware and was about to dive into a salad, one of the kids asked me what on earth I was eating. “Um…’s just uh….rice and stuff” I answered awkwardly. Now granted, these kids were only ten so I don’t think they really knew about the benefits of eating healthfully and what whole foods even are. But what occurred to me was that while health and lifestyle may be so important to one person, another may have no idea what kale or quinoa are! (which by the way, were the basis of the aforementioned salad). So, I thought I’d take today’s post to breakdown quinoa and give a simple recipe on one of my favorite weeknight dinners that make this superfood the star.


Keen-whaat? Fun Facts:

  • Quin-oa, although its usually used like a grain, is actually a seed and comes from the Andes region in South America
  • This super-seed is packed full of fiber, potassium and zinc and also contains all the essential amino acids to make it a complete protein (so even though it might look “feathery” as my dad says, it actually packs a great nutritional punch)
  • It also comes in different varieties like red, white, black, and multicolored/mixed
  • NASA approved- quinoa is on the list of foods for for long duration manned spaceflights.
  • History: the Incan people used quinoa so much that they called it “the mother grain” but when Spanish conquerors came from Europe they tried to ban the superfood, referring to it as “food for Indians”. Thankfully the Europeans didn’t eliminate it and quinoa is still around today!
  • Quinoa also stores really well. Making big batches is especially nice to keep in the fridge-just heat it up and you’re all set!


This quinoa stir-fry is so easy but really great. It’s probably one of the simples dishes I make, but one that I always find myself going back to. The trick to the stir fry is to sauté the veggies until tender, and then to add the quinoa and spices at the end to absorb all the great flavor. I think what makes this dish so great is that you can also vary it depending on whatever veggies you have lying around or whatever you’re in the mood for whenever you make it!


1 zucchini

1 red pepper

A  few good handfuls of mushrooms (I like baby bellas or porcini)

3 carrots

6 handfuls of kale (don’t worry, it shrinks a lot when it cooks)

Onion, chopped

Garlic, 2 cloves minced

Olive oil (or coconut oil!) for cooking

3/4 cup of precooked quinoa

optional: 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric


Start by making the quinoa. Add about 1/2 to a pan of boiling water, and add salt and pepper. Cover the pot and allow the quinoa to cook for about 10-15 minutes. While that’s cooking, heat up the onions with the garlic until the onions are transparent. Then add the chopped carrots, they take the longest to get soft. Let them sit with the onions and garlic, and add some salt and pepper, if desired. Then, add the peppers, and zucchini. These veggies release a lot of water, so cover the veggie mixture and let it cook with a lid on for a few minutes. After the juices start to flow, at the mushrooms, followed by the kale and let everything cook together. Then, after another three or so minutes when all the veggies are cooked the way you like them, slowly stir in the cooked quinoa. Mix everything up and let it settle together, and then add the spices if you’re using them. Finally turn off the heat and serve! Enjoy with a mug of rooibos tea and an episode of New Girl.