Don't you feel like everything edible involves quinoa these days? Whether it's proudly displayed at the supermarket or featured in a restaurant menu, we just can't seem to escape this pseudo-cereal. Quinoa has become so popular that you've probably already learned how to pronounce it (but just as a reminder, it's "keen-wah").

Quinoa has risen in popularity thanks to the rising interest in gluten-free and nutrient-rich foods. And the ways you can prepare, serve, and season quinoa are endless. Did you know that you can even make pizza crust from it? Or that it's the perfect substitute for rice and couscous?

This pseudo-cereal is fluffy, delicious, and healthy. However, just like many starches, it can be a little bland all by itself. But don't worry. With the right seasonings, you'll be able to bring out the best of quinoa.

Why is quinoa so popular?

Quinoa is high in protein and full of nutrients and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc, among others. It's also gluten-free which makes it the perfect starch for limited diets.

How can you serve and season quinoa?

You can serve quinoa in salads, as a substitute for starchy foods such as rice and noodles, in bread and, yes, in pizza crust. For boiling, many experts recommend using two cups water to one cup quinoa (like you would with rice) or covering it so that the water level is about a finger above the quinoa.

But even with its nutty flavor, quinoa can feel a little bland all by itself, so you might want to add some seasonings to kick it up a notch. The best way to do that is to add the spices while the quinoa is cooking, and you can even create a spice sachet for easy use.

The best way to add flavor to quinoa is to cook it in broth instead of water. The quinoa will then soak the flavor from the broth and spices. But you can also use other ways to season quinoa.

Quinoa with herbs, vegetables, and lemon

For example, lemon quinoa is a great and refreshing way to eat it, especially if it's accompanied by herbs such as mint, cilantro, garlic, thyme, and parsley. You could also use quinoa instead of couscous in a surprising twist on a classic tabbouleh.

Vegetables such as sweet potato, zucchini, bell peppers, black beans, and green peas make a perfect addition to quinoa.

Spice up your quinoa

If you prefer spicy quinoa, add ginger, garlic, chili, or jalapeno peppers and cayenne pepper for more heat.

For a beautiful golden color, use turmeric or curry powder. You could also try a recipe for fried rice with cinnamon, paprika and cashews or peanuts, but use quinoa instead of rice.

You can get the inspiration for your quinoa seasoning from cuisines around the world: make your own garam masala or yellow curry paste, for example.

Ideas for sweet quinoa

Surprisingly, you can also eat quinoa as a dessert or as a sweet breakfast. Use cinnamon, coconut milk, and honey or maple syrup for quinoa pudding, or add cocoa powder if you like chocolate. Other sweet ingredients are lemon and orange zest, or pumpkin spice.

Congratulations, you've now become true quinoa royalty. Now, browse through the recipes, feel the inspiration, and get cooking. Sweet, spicy, or lemony, how will you have your quinoa today?

About the Author

Olga Mecking is a writer and translator living in the Netherlands. She writes about food, wellness, lifestyle, travel, and other topics.