Quinoa 101 + a yummy Quinoa Mint Cucumber Salad Recipe




We all know quinoa as a super food, but really what is quinoa and why is it so super? Here are a few interesting facts about our little friend, quinoa:

  • Quinoa is known as a whole grain, but actually it’s not even a grain at all, it’s a seed.
  • Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.  Great for vegetarians and vegans!
  • Quinoa is gluten-free!
  • Quinoa’s calorie count may surprise you a little; just 1/3 cup cooked has 160 calories.
  • Quinoa cooks in just 15 minutes!

Here is a wonderful recipe my mother-in-law introduced me to over the holiday weekend.  The flavor profile of this salad is simply beautiful!




Quinoa Mint Cucumber Salad


  • 1-cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped
  • 20 mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 lemons + the zest of both lemons
  • 1- 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
  • 5 oz. feta cheese
  • Salt + pepper

Here are a few general quinoa cooking tips before I give you the directions for this salad:

  • Some find quinoa to have a bitter taste, you can easily eliminate any bitterness by either rinsing the quinoa before cooking with cool water or toasting it for a few minutes on the stove.
  • Most quinoa packages call for a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to liquid, but I find using a 1:1.75 quinoa to liquid ratio makes for a less sticky quinoa.
  • You can substitute broth for water when cooking quinoa.  Quinoa takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in or add to it, so depending on what you are making with the quinoa, it may be nice to cook it in a low sodium broth.


  • Zest both lemons and set aside the zest for later use
  • Rinse the quinoa with cool water and drain
  • Bring 1 cup quinoa, 1 ¾ cups of water or broth and the juice of one lemon to a boil (you can also drop in the entire lemon to add more flavor)
  • Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes
  • After quinoa is cooked, drain, remove the lemon, if applicable, and place cooked quinoa in large mixing bowl
  • Add the diced cucumber, mint and feta cheese
  • Add the juice from the 2nd lemon along with the lemon zest from both lemons
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Makes 8 servings

Nutrition Information (per serving of 3/4 cup)

Calories 150, Fat 4 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 8 mg, Carbohydrates 22 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 6.5 g


Images via The New York Times and Jenn Likover, RD 

1 Comment

  1. Sarah
    June 11, 2013

    What is the carb situation with quinoa? My future mother-in-law says that quinoa has no carbs, but how can that be?


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