Posted by: Stephanie Tuck | October 16, 2010

Mama Jo’s Crowd-pleaser Quinoa

Quinoa: good stuff that's good for you

You know those people who say sure, “I’ll share dessert with you, but I only want one bite” … and when the molten chocolate cake appears, they ONLY TAKE ONE BITE? Well, that’s me. And I don’t tell you this to brag (or to torture you.)  I only take one bite because chocolate just doesn’t turn me on. For me, chocolate is, well,  beige. In my world, end of meal confections are just a vehicle for good coffee and more good conversation.

BUT, the START of the meal, wow, that’s another story. Put a basket of warm crusty bread in front of me and I practically need to close my eyes and think of baseball stats to quiet my desire to jump in.  Carbs delight me: give me pasta, bread, grains, sticky rice and on and I’m yours.  Loyally. Forever. Yummmmy.

Even though a lot of people think carb is a bad word, we need them for energy.  In fact, carbs should be the biggest percentage of a balanced diet – the Mayo Clinic, for example, says between 45-65% of your daily caloric intake (protein should be 10-35% and fat 20-35%.)  I like how the Mayo clinic gives ranges, btw – I think that’s realistic and, well, human. I mean, who walks around with a calculator every day figuring out the stats of his/her diet? A little flexibility, people, helps and as long as you’re in the ballpark, you’re golden. But I digress…:)

It was a good moment for me, then, when I was introduced to quinoa. I was at The Island Experience in Brazil (see this post, Paradise Island,  for more info) and had just kayaked and hiked for a few hours, and I was HUNGRY. For lunch we were served about a cup and half of this special grain with some diced veggies in it. Eying my little Tupperwear container, I thought the portion was small and I wondered how I was going to have the strength to hike and kayak back to our lodge. I mean COME ON.

Turns out, Quinoa is a miracle food. It provides both complex carbs and an unusually high amount of complex protein. It looks like a grain, but it’s actually a seed and it is LOADED with nutrients. It is the original power food: The Incas used it to fuel their armies. So I took a bite and that was it – deeeeelightful – it triggered all of my carb receptors and I was in my happy place, and the small portion was okay as the stuff was filling. Paddling home was smooth sailing…

Incan man. Don't mess with him - he's got energy for days.

So here’s my mom, Joanne’s,  fail-safe quinoa recipe that I have recently adopted. I make it often and freeze what I know I won’t gobble up. Quinoa is dense and caloric so I’d say, don’t sit down with a big bowl in front of the tv and zone out as you spoon it into your mouth. I serve it – maybe 4 heaping tablespoons – on top of a huge green salad, as a replacement for chicken or tuna. It’s also great as the grain in your meal paired with protein like chicken or fish (or it can BE your protein) and a green vegetable – so healthy you could die and  again, YUM. And so, without further ado,  here’s MAMA JO’s CROWD-PLEASER QUINOA:

Mama Jo's Crowd-pleaser Quinoa. Tastes great, trust me. I need to go to food styling school. Sorry folks:)


1C quinoa, red or basic varieties (some need to be washed or soaked)

2C low sodium chicken broth


1/4 C Canola oil

3T brown rice vinegar (can mix 1/2 and 1/2 with white wine vinegar)

2T soy sauce

1 1/2-2t curry powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 t celery salt

Add-ins for quinoa:

1/2 C green onions (scallions) chopped

1/2C celery chopped

1C frozen peas

4 oz. raw cashews (fabulous extra protein source!)

Cook quinoa according to the instructions on the box – until all of the chicken broth is absorbed.

Let cool.

Add add-ins.

Mix dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl and slowly add to quinoa to taste. I do not use the entire amount of dressing – I add about 3/4 of it but that’s me. The quinoa will taste best if it has a chance to absorb the dressing and rest.

Yield: 8 servings

Calories per serving: 239 (it’s a little hard to tell you exactly how much this is – it is 1/8 C of dried quinoa but when it cooks it gets fluffy so just eyeball a serving that looks like, say, a cup.)

Fat: 15 gms

Carbs: 23 gms

Protein: 7 gms

Enjoy! xoxoSteph


  1. I’m with ya. Except, I love chocolate as well!


  2. Can’t wait to try this dressing. I’ve been making quinoa in my rice cooker, same ratio. Turns out great, and no stovetop babysitting. Did NOT know you could freeze it, too. Thanks for all the nutritional info!


  3. Yummy is right! I’ve tried this recipe and it is Bomb-Diggity!


  4. Very nice postt


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: