Keen What?

Buzz, buzz, buzz, quinoa, buzz, buzz.

I kept hearing about it and reading about it, seemingly everywhere.  What was this food? And how the heck does one pronounce its name?

The first question is easier to answer:  “KEEN-wa.”

The second question is a little more complicated.  Quinoa is described as having a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked.  While most consider it a grain, it is actually a seed related to veggies like spinach and beets.  It is originally from the Andes but, fortunately for you and me, can now be found in most health food stores.  The buzz stems from the fact that quinoa has great nutritional value, and is loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein.  It’s a great source of healthy carbohydrates.  And it’s gluten free.  Recipes vary greatly from just preparing it as a simple rice alternative with no seasoning, to either a savory or sweet side dish or main course with lots of add ins.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner.

My husband and I were intrigued enough to buy a huge bag at Costco several months ago.  (The smaller bags in the health food section of our grocery store were wayyyy more expensive.)  But the bag sat in our pantry unopened.  Until two of my favorite bloggers (thanks, Jody and Tami) posted recipes within days of each other.  Fate had struck.  Hubby and I were inspired to experiment with our combined total of very limited culinary expertise.  And I became determined to bring a quinoa dish as my healthy side to our family Thanksgiving buffet.

I find quinoa to taste “interesting.”  I like it, but it is hard to really explain what it tastes like.  Different.  Hubby and I both agree it is a keeper in our house and will likely become a staple after our nest empties (i.e. no more picky teen at home) next year.  We even served it to house guests this week; a long conversation ensued as we tried to explain it, since no one had tried it or even heard of it yet.

Here are two of the recipes that hubby and I tried.  The first one (which can be found here) comes from Linda and is for quinoa burgers, although I would probably describe ours as more like pancakes.  I even liked these cold the next day.  The recipe calls for frying, which we did the first time and yields the tastiest results.  But, to be healthier, now we “fry” them in a bit of cooking spray and may try baking the next time.

The following recipe is the side dish that we brought to Thanksgiving and that I will bring to Cammy’s Virtual Holiday Potluck.  She’s hosting this calorie-free gathering of the blog world, and the more the merrier, so if you’d like to join in just click on the link for details.


What new foods have you tried? Have you jumped on the quinoa bandwagon yet?

Quinoa with Toasted Almonds and Cranberries

1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds

1 cube broth stock (we used chicken)

1.5 cups boiling water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup dried cranberries (we could only find Craisins)


Soak quinoa for 1/2 hour in cold water. Rinse thoroughly. On medium heat, stir and toast the slivered almonds until golden. (I roasted the nuts in the oven instead.) Stir and roast the quinoa until dry and turning color. Transfer toasted quinoa and almonds and cranberries to a 2 quart saucepan. Add boiling water, broth cube, salt, bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Return to boil, cover and turn heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Remover from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Fluff gently with a fork and serve.



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30 responses to “Keen What?

  1. I can’t find this is England for anything. It is meant to be a wonder diet food isn’t it?

  2. I’ve been trying to find fresh edamame at my local grocery store, and haven’t found it, yet. I know they have it at Trader Joes and Whole Foods, but I’d have to make a special trip out there to find it, and haven’t taken the time to do it! I tried Quinoa awhile back, but tried it plain. Think it wouldn’t be too bad if it was in something.

    • Karen

      I’ve never seen fresh – only frozen. We are getting a TJs later in 2011 and I can’t wait.

      Yep, plain is not so good. My husband made it that way the other night and I would not do it again. Even cooking it in something like chicken broth would be better.

  3. I bought some quinoa after I got back from visiting Tish, but haven’t done anything with it yet. I have all the ingredients for this recipe at home so really have no excuse (except that I’m 750 miles away from home)!! Will try it when I get back.

  4. anne h

    Everyone loves the stuff!
    “Keen” on it!

  5. D

    We LOVE quinoa! It’s gluten-free and stuffed with great nutrition. I’ve been eating it for years but I’ve really experimented with it over the past year. We had it for dinner last night – basically you can use it instead of rice anywhere. Last night I cooked the quinoa (double water to quinoa – I did 2 cup quinoa and 4 cups water – and boil – about 10 minutes), meanwhile I sauted onions, pepper, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes – and at the last minute, sauted some baby spinach – put aside) – when quinoa is finished, add together – can add some olive oil to mix better – AWESOME! I sometimes add some feta at that point – it melts, ahhh. The whole family loves it! I also cook quinoa plain and then I can mix it up with cinnamon & fruit for a hot cereal (or cold) in the morning, or add some veggies for a complete lunch or dinner meal. VERY handy & versatile. I also bring it on holidays for an easy & healthy food option.

    • Karen

      That sounds yummy! I am not skilled with cooking so never try anything without a recipe. When I brought it to our Thanksgiving I was disappointed that not everyone even tried it! And we always have to explain what it is.

  6. Oh Karen that recipes looks delish! I will have to try it.

  7. YAY a new option! Thanks!

    I might try it with a chicken curry recipe I have as a rice substitute…

    Polar’s Mom

  8. Given your glowing recommendation, I may have to try it. There is one single reason I haven’t…when it’s prepared, it looks like little fish eyes to me. Don’t I sound about 7 years old? I am the unpickiest eater ever, and quinoa has just repelled me. But too many co-foodies have sung its praises. Thanks for pushing me a little closer to age 8.

  9. Always great to try new foods & quinoa is a complete protein! The cooks that are your readers are gonna love you! That recipe of sounds fantastic! 🙂

  10. I have to confess that I am from another planet (☺). I never heard of Quinoa until your blog. Sounds interesting. I like the fact that it has alot of protein. I am guessing it is completely heart healthy, too.

    New foods: not lately. But plan, to. I actually like trying new things so will have go with your quinoa recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Oooh, this is a GREAT dish for the potluck! Thank you! (And thank you for mentioning it!)

    My regular grocery store (Kroger) has quinoa on the aisle with the 715 varieties of rice products. Generally, they only have a couple of brands, but both are entirely affordable.

    Another great quinoa recipe is a Corn-Quinoa-Mint salad kind of like this one: . My hostess also added red bell pepper or pimentos, which made it especially pretty, not to mention tasty. 🙂

    Thanks again for bringing a dish to the potluck! I’m so excited!

    • Karen

      That looks tasty! Both of the ones I shared are a bit more work than I usually like to invest in my food prep. I’m lazy that way.

  12. I think I would like it but my husband would not. He doesn’t like coucous and I hear it is similar in texture, if not taste. I should try it for my lunches, though. I will print the recipe.

    • Karen

      I think that is probably true. My husband will eat almost anything. I think it comes from growing up with a big family on a little income.

  13. Thank you for this recipe! I may bring this to Christmas Eve. Hey, they could use a little healthy 😉

  14. Ron

    Quinoa has been one of my favorites for about two years now!!

  15. Yum- I’ve seen it before but never tried it- I definitely will eventually look into it (after this medifast thing).

  16. Pingback: Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas!

  17. AFG

    LOL! I had this for the first time several months ago. I thought I was the last person to try it the way everyone else had reacted at the time my mom made it.

  18. Biz

    I love quinoa – need to make some, it’s been a while since I’ve made it – love the cranberries in it! 😀

  19. yes Yes YES! Since I’m not a cook – more of an assembler – and I “try” to watch some of those carbs, this has been a great little find for me. I’ll cook some up – sprinkle it over salad, make a salad with it (with chicken, fruit, nuts, onions, dijon vinaigrette), or serve it as a side. Yes, I even used it to stuff some squash. The way I see it is I’m gettin’ some protein with those carbs, so what the heck, eh?

    Welcome to the world of Keen-Wa!

  20. I love it. But I do have to warn people if you’re texture sensitive this may not be the food for you.

    I like it with seafood and cinnamon. It’s great as a rice substitute.

  21. I’d seen the name, now I can pronounce it! It sounds a lot like steel cut oats – which are hard to describe to people used to rolled (which I am; HE likes steel, not me!). I can’t wait to try it now ’cause I think we’re gonna love it. Always looking for new stuff to add to our healthy eating habits (the ones we’re learning).

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