How To Cook Quinoa – A Samsonite Staple

quinoa 2

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has the highest nutritional profile and cooks the fastest of all grains which makes it great for us peeps with a busy travel schedule. It is an extremely high-energy grain and has been grown and consumed for about 8,000 years on the high plains of the Andes Mountains in South America, having a remarkable tolerance for different growing conditions. Quinoa is able to survive high altitudes, thin and cold air, hot sun, salty or sandy soil, little rainfall, and sub-freezing temperatures.. which makes it the perfect fuel for flyers. Inca warriors ate balls of quinoa and fat to keep them going on long marches and in battle and more recently NASA has proposed quinoa as an ideal food for long-duration space flights.

Quinoa can be used in a variety of way which makes it versatile and fun to eat. It can be reheated with a splash of nut milk for breakfast porridge; or you can add dried fruit, coconut nectar, nuts and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Add finely chopped raw vegetables and dressing for a cooling salad or add chopped cooked root vegetables for a warming side dish. Uncooked quinoa can be kept in a sealed glass jar and stored in a cool, dry and dark place for up to a year.

Health Benefits of Quinoa

  • Contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein
  • Has a protein content equal to milk
  • High in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium and Vitamin E
  • Gluten free; easy to digest
  • Ideal for endurance
  • Strengthen the kidneys, heart and lungs


  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup rinsed and preferably soaked quinoa. Quinoa must be rinsed prior to cooking to remove the toxic (but naturally occurring) bitter coating, called saponin. Saponin, when removed from quinoa produces a soapy solution in water.



  • Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse quinoa with cool water until the water runs clear.
  • Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 12mins with the lid on, until all the water has been absorbed.


I like to add a piece of kombu to the cooking water, to help make the proteins more digestible. I am sure none of you want to be bloated or crop dusting at 30,000 feet.

  • Remove from heat and let stand for 5mins, covered.
  • Fluff with a fork and serve
Cooked quinoa

Cooked quinoa

For inspiration on creative ways to prepare this onboard, check out my previous interview with Jay Rob from A Fly Guys Cabin Crew Lounge.