What Is Quinoa and How to Make It in 2 Delicious Recipes

Quinoa — pronounced keen-wah, for those out there that have somehow avoided this ancient grain for the past few years— has been the poster child (poster grain?) of the healthy eating movement for a while now.  having First domesticated by the Andean peoples between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago, the pseudocereal is not a grass like wheat or rye, but is instead more closely related to another pillar of healthy eating: spinach. (Really, we swear. Look it up.) It’s also related to Swiss chard and beets, if you need a fun party fact about quinoa.

If you’ve never had quinoa before, you’re missing out. Not only is it gluten-free, but it has higher levels of B vitamins, dietary minerals, fiber, and protein than corn, rice, oats, and wheat. For example,  one cup of cooked quinoa yields about eight grams of protein while one cup of cooked rice yields just over four. These heightened levels of all the things that are good for us, as well as its versatility when it comes to cooking, have led it to being chosen as one of the test crops for NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System.

We’re not up in space, though, we’re here on Earth and whether it’s successful up there or not really doesn’t matter to us (yet). Instead, we wanted to focus on what you can do with quinoa that we pick up at the store. As we said above, you can do pretty much anything. Thinking about serving pasta or rice with your steak? Make quinoa instead. Thinking about making a protein-packed cold salad? Toss those ancient pseodocereals in there and go to town.

To show just how versatile quinoa is, we’ve got two very different recipes below. You’ll find it’s equally delicious as a main course (as in the first recipe) and as part of a dessert. Both of these recipes come to us courtesy of Ancient Harvest and were created by Wendy at Fit-and-Frugal.com.

Turkey Quinoa Meatballs with Korean BBQ Sauce

Fit and Frugal

Ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked Ancient Harvest Quinoa, any variety
  • .25 cup grated zucchini
  • ⅓ cup grated carrot (about half a medium carrot)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Ingredients for the Korean BBQ Sauce:

  • .25 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • .25 cup mirin
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • .25 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, cooked quinoa, carrot, zucchini, scallions, egg, and garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper. Stir or mix with your hands until well combined.
  3. Roll the mixture into approximately 1.5-2 inch meatballs, and place on a nonstick or prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all sides are browned and meatballs are cooked through.
  4. While meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce: whisk together all ingredients through chili paste in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring, 5 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Stir into soy sauce mixture, reduce heat to medium, and cook until thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Spoon warm sauce over meatballs to serve.

Pro tips:

  • If Korean BBQ sauce isn’t up your alley, try the Classic Marinara Sauce here.
  • If following a gluten-free diet, make sure the gochujang you choose is gluten-free.

Pumpkin Quinoa Cheesecake

Fit and Frugal

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 1.5 cups almond meal or finely ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • .25 cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • Cooking spray

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 cup cooked Ancient Harvest Traditional White Quinoa
  • 1 8-oz block reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup full fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • .75 cup sugar
  • .5 tsp ground ginger
  • .5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. To prepare the crust: Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Press crumb mixture into the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch springform pan coated lightly with cooking spray. Bake 10 minutes, or until just browning on edges. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Reduce heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. To prepare the filling, mix first eight ingredients (quinoa through vanilla) in a food processor until smooth.
  5. Add eggs one at a time; process after each addition until just blended.
  6. Pour filling into prepared pan. Bake with pan in a hot water bath for 50 minutes or until almost set. Turn oven off and partially open door. Cool cheesecake in oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  7. Once cooled, wrap cheesecake in plastic wrap and chill at least four hours.

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