Move Over Rice,There’s a New Grain in Town

Don’t fill all of your storage containers with rice just yet – there’s a new grain in town.

Quinoa (pronounced keen’-wah) is a high-protein grain that the Incas held sacred, calling it the “mother of all grains.”  This ancient grain has had a recent resurgence in popularity because of its excellent nutritional profile, easy preparation and versatile nutty taste.

You will likely notice that quinoa is more expensive than rice, so you may be wondering, “Why is this stuff such a great addition to the prepper’s pantry?”  For nutritional value, there is simply no comparison between what quinoa supplies versus other popular grains.

Technically a seed rather than a grain, quinoa is made up of 18% protein, supplying 8 grams per cup. It is a complete protein, supplying all necessary amino acids. The superfood is high in fiber, calcium, iron and phosphorus, as well as a good source of riboflavin, thiamine and niacin.  It’s generally referred to as a grain because of the way it is prepared and used in the diet.

As a crop, quinoa is afforded instant protection from birds by its coating of bitter-tasting saponins.  Most quinoa sold in North America has been processed to remove the saponins, but rinsing it well before cooking is still recommended.

Cooking quinoa couldn’t be simpler.  After rinsing it under cold water, use the ratio of 3 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa.  (This will make 4 one-cup servings of the grain).  Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce heat and cover, simmering for 15 minutes.  The cooked germ looks like a small curl and the texture should be similar to al dente pasta.  When it’s finished cooking, simply fluff it with a fork and serve.

Quinoa is gluten-free.  It is also sold in the form of a flour for gluten-free baking.

Another option for quinoa is sprouting.  It has a quick germination period of only 4 hours, and sprouting enhances the vitamin content and activates the natural enzymes.  Quinoa sprouts make a delicious fresh-tasting salad topping.

How can you serve quinoa?  This versatile item can be used anywhere that you would use rice, pasta or barley.  Try the following uses:

  • As a pilaf, with nuts and dried fruit
  • In soup
  • As a breakfast grain with milk, brown sugar and cinnamon
  • Seasoned with savory herbs and olive oil
  • Topped with a stir-fry (instead of the usual nutritionless white rice)
  • In any casserole calling for rice
  • Mixed into things like chili or spaghetti sauce to “stretch” ground beef

To get you started with this versatile food, here are some quinoa recipes from my up-coming cookbook, The Prepper Cookbook.

Basic Quinoa

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of water


The trick to delicious, lightly sweet quinoa is to wash it well to remove the bitter coating. The best method is to rinse it under running water until the water is clear, not frothy. Alternatively, if running water is unavailable, you can “swish” the quinoa in a large bowl of water and then drain it well.  Use fresh water to cook the quinoa..

  1. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil.
  2. Add quinoa.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and place the lid on the pot for 5 minutes.

Quinoa can be used any place that you would normally use rice or pasta – under sauces or stir fries, as a side dish or even as a hot breakfast cereal.  It all depends how you season it.

Quinoa Pilaf

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cubes of MSG-free chicken or vegetable bouillon
  • ¼ cup dehydrated carrots
  • ¼ cup dehydrated bell peppers
  • 2 tbsp dried minced onion
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except for cranberries.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in cranberries and place the lid on the pot for 5 minutes.
  4. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Quinoa Tabouli

This is a Middle Eastern salad made from pantry ingredients.

  • 2 cups of prepared quinoa
  • ½ cup of dried parsley
  • ½ cup of scallions, if available, or 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried mint
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ cup of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place prepared quinoa in a bowl and stir in the other ingredients lightly until mixed.
  2. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 12 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
  3. Serve cold.

Chocolate Quinoa Breakfast

  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • honey or brown sugar to taste


  1. Combine quinoa, water, cocoa, and vanilla in a small saucepan with a lid.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and place the lid on the pot for 5 minutes.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published August 23rd, 2012
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  • GoneWithTheWind

    I can buy 50 lbs of rice for less then what 5 lbs of quinoa costs and the quinoa just doesn’t taste very good to me.

    • Gadabout

      But it’s supposed to be the healthiest grain on the planet!  It’s nice to have some on hand for a change and I love to make that Mediterranean salad, aka Tabouli, with quinoa since it’s gluten free. 
      Question for Tess:  how well will it store for the long term? 

  • GoneWithTheWind

    Healthy by what definition?  If your diet is missing something that quinoa provides then it would be healthy.  So in that case quinoa for a starving Somali child in need of protein is healthy but then so would a big mac be healthy.  If you eat a Western diet it is likely you are getting all the protein, carbs and fats you require and likely you are getting all the vitamins and essential nutrients as well.  So if that is the case how is a grain with even more protein “healthy”? 

  • garry_f_owen_trooper

    In terms of long-term emergency preparations, protein, especially complete proteins, will be difficult to come by.  Small animal husbandry (fowl, goats and sheep, or rabbits) will help, but having a plant based complete protein is a good addition to any long-term food storage plan.

  • GoneWithTheWind

    Lets assume that the conventional knowledge that beans and grain create a complete protein is true.  Then why do you want an expensive grain to add more protein or as an alternative to beans and grain?  My point here is quinoa is a fad and like so many fads of the past and I am unconvinced I should drop everything else and buy quinoa.  I don’t have any problem with anyone choosing quinoa for their own reasons (taste, availability, etc.) but to advise people to stock it as an emergency prep without a robust discussion on it’s pros and cons seems like a mistake to me.

  • Gone With the Wind,

    I get your point. The purpose of this article is to inform readers that there are different options to consider besides the standard rice option.

    In a long-term disaster, where malnutrition may play a role in many deaths, having a super food that is high in essential protein and nutrition could keep that health issue and the long-term effects that go with it at bay. Further, having a healthy diversity in your food pantry will also decrease your chances of food fatigue – something that many elderly and children seem to get more frequently. 

    I’m definitely not telling you to stop buying rice and switch to only quinoa, but there are other choices to consider. 

    Thanks for your great comment and I hope this helps.


  • Paul Smith

    Hi Tess,
    In your article, you say to “use the ratio of 3 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa. ” yet in the Basic Quinoa recipe following you provide a 2 to 1 ratio?
    GoneWithTheWind:  If your survival larder consists of beans and wheat berries, remind me not to come for dinner very often.  I can store the Quinoa nutritional equivalent of beans and rice in FAR less space. I eat a fraction of beans and rice vs. Quinoa for the equivalent nutritional value thus significantly reducing the price differential.  I can prepare cooked Quinoa in about 20 minutes vs. the hours needed to cook beans thus saving valuable cooking fuel.  I can sprout Quinoa and eat it raw thus eliminating expensive cooking altogether while still getting complete protein and the vitamins and minerals that come with it (NOTE to those bugging out – you can carry fresh/growing sprouts in a bag attached to your BOB, healthy snacks on the run!)

  • Max

    Just my 2cc for people objecting to Quinoa on the basis of price. It might come as a surprise but some would-be preppers are relatively well off. My fitness level is likely insufficient for subsistence life but if I need to stockpile food for, say, a year, I’d rather have quality over economy.

  • Doug

    For people such as my wife who is gluten intollerent, quinoa is a food item to seriously consider for long term food storage. 

  • How ’bout amaranth, I grow it in San Antonio. Leaves are great for salad, or steamed or sauteed, seeds are nearly as nutritious as Quinoa. Tried growing quinoa – no can do. That soap onna seeds makes them nasty and I can’t wash it off. 

    • Robert

      You don’t wash Quinoa, You hull it. Then you was the actual grain itself before using.
      Doing it this way might help you get better results. Of course I have no idea how to hull Quinoa. I’m sure Google could help.

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