How to Cook Quinoa

Quinoa is considered a super-grain for several reasons. It is one of the few complete protein foods. It does not contain any bad cholesterol or gluten. In addition, it cooks in 15 minutes or less. Low in calories and satisfying, it is the ideal addition to the dieter’s menu. Learn how to cook quinoa properly and you can enjoy a quick, nutritious and delicious meal any time.

What is Quinoa Made of?

Quinoa is not a dish but a whole grain you can use to make meals. “Whole grain” means that it has not gone through processing like white rice, breads and pastas. Whole grain is healthier because most of the fiber and nutrients are still intact. However, you need to know how to cook quinoa correctly to get the most out of its nutrients.

What is Quinoa’s Nutritional Value?

how to cook quinoa

Quinoa is well-known for its high protein quantity. Studies show that this whole grain has every amino acid known. 1 cup of quinoa contains about 9 grams of dietary fiber. This is higher than most processed grains. It is also packed with complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates have a lot of nutritional value especially for diabetics and dieters.

Iron is a prominent nutrient in quinoa, and provides about 15% of the amount you need every day. It is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. Learning how to cook quinoa the right way can help prevent the loss of these nutrients during the cooking process.

How to Cook Quinoa

You can use rice cooker, stovetop, or oven to cook quinoa. It can be used as a substitute for rice in many dishes and season it according to your preferred taste. If this is your first time learning how to cook quinoa, start with:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or broth of your choice
  • Pinch of salt to taste


How to Cook Quinoa in Rice Cooker

Step 1:

Rinse quinoa with cold water using a sieve. Add quinoa to cooker with water and salt.

Step 2:

Cook quinoa for 15 minutes, just as you would with rice. Let it cool, fluff and enjoy.


How to Cook Quinoa on Stovetop

Step 1:

Rinse quinoa. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and roast it for a minute.

Step 2:

Pour water into a pot, add quinoa and bring to the boil. Turn heat to low and simmer until quinoa white germ forms as with pasta, which usually takes 15 minutes.

Step 3:

Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Fluff it up and serve.


How to Cook Quinoa in Oven

Step 1:

Rinse and roast quinoa as instructed above. Instead of removing it from heat after roasting, add water or broth and bring to a boil.

Step 2:

When it boils, remove from heat and pour quinoa with water onto a baking dish. Seal the top of the dish with foil.

Step 3:

Bake at 350 F in a preheated oven. Allow it to cook until the water/broth is gone or for 20 minutes. When done, feel free to add seasonings and cook for a further 5 minutes before removing it from the oven.

11 Tips to Improve Your Cooking Skills

Are you interested in improving your cooking skills? These cooking tips might come in handy:

1. Start with a positive attitude and set your goal

Being optimistic in the idea of learning and improving yourself is the most important attitude that you need to wear to guarantee success in any endeavor that you wish to pursue. Ask yourself this: Do I really want to improve my cooking skills? If you do, think of the reasons why you want to improve your skills; these reasons will be your goal. Write them down and visualize yourself attaining them. This will help you to focus more on the things that need to be done.

2. Take time to understand cooking terms and learn basic techniques

Learning the basics of cooking is a prerequisite. If you seek for improvement, you must at least understand some terms used in recipes and cookbooks and be able to perform the basic cooking techniques. If you wish to learn how to bake a cake then you should have at least tried making simple pastries. Our previous post on the Definition of cooking verbs can be a good start in understanding common terms used in recipes and cookbooks.

3. Select the freshest ingredients possible

Different ingredients are needed to make a dish. The quality of ingredients that you use can make or break it. This might sound like an idiom but you ought to know that the success of a dish mostly relies on the ingredients used. You cannot make a fresh tasting fish dish with an old fish no matter how fresh your spices are – even the best chef in the world will have a hard time doing that. The best way to ensure that you are using the freshest ingredients is to get them on the day that you need them. If you don’t have the time to visit the market on a daily basis, refrigerating them can work too as long as you will consume them within the next 24 hours. If you are used to freeze meat and seafood, try to use freezer bags to trap the freshness and avoid burns. Of course, fresh foods are still best compared to frozen ones.Improve Cooking Skills

4. Invest in cooking tools and kitchen equipments

This is one of the areas that most neglect. Many of us might think that having a pan, a spatula, and a knife is enough to get things going. Some might term this scenario as a frugal way of living but if you are serious about cooking and honing your skills then you should consider getting additional cooking tools and kitchen equipment to assist you further and make your cooking experience as easy as possible. Every cooking tool and equipment serves a specific purpose: cooking pans are used for frying while cooking pots are used to make stews and soups; chef knives are used for slicing while paring knives are used to peel and carve. If budget is an issue, try using a Skillet instead of having pans and pots. Skillets can beautifully sear meat; it can also be used for roasting and making casseroles. When I’m not shooting cooking videos, I use my favorite cast iron skillet to get things done easily. As for the knives, it is best if you have a set of kitchen knife to make your slicing and cutting chores faster and easier. If a set is too expensive for you, I recommend keeping at least a piece of chef knife, paring knife, and filet knife. Some stores carry limited varieties of kitchen equipment and tools; I usually buy my kitchen tools and equipment online because the inventory is not limited and I can read reviews on the products that I wish to have.

5. Try to know the characteristics of every ingredient that you will use

Knowing the properties or characteristics of your ingredients is important. Having an idea on how your ingredient will behave or react while being cooked can help you plan ahead and decide the sequence or steps in making your dish. Let’s take calamari as an example. We all know that the main ingredient for calamari (calamares) is squid. Squid should not be cooked for a long time because it will have a rubbery texture. If you are aware of this, you will try to limit the frying time to preserve the optimal texture of the squid. This can also be applied to vegetables. Say I need to make a vegetable soup out of potatoes and spinach – I’ll put-in the potatoes first before the spinach because it takes a while for the potatoes to cook. Placing the spinach ahead of the potatoes will overcook the spinach producing an unpleasant texture.

6. Don’t be afraid to get messy but make sure to tidy-up

It is normal for beginners to use utensils while working with ingredients and plating. While this is not wrong at all (this is even recommended as far as sanitation is concerned), using your hands is also a fine as long as you wash them first (of course, there are instances when using tools are highly recommended). Don’t be grossed-out when you use your hands when marinating or making your presentation because sometimes you literally need to feel your food. There are also some unavoidable circumstances when you create a mess in the kitchen while you are cooking – this is normal. Don’t freak out when you see that your kitchen is messy; cleaning is also a part of cooking. Make it a habit to clean the mess that you created once you are done cooking. Always remember that a clean kitchen is a healthy kitchen.

7. Try to master simple dishes before moving-on to the next level

Most of us might be guilty on this. You want to cook your favorite dish so you searched a recipe from the internet or bought a cookbook. As you were skimming on the recipe, you noticed that the procedures are quite complicated and you don’t have a clue on how it should be done – or you tried doing the procedure but the result is always unsatisfactory. Don’t blame the cookbook or the recipe on this. Try to ask yourself why you were not able to follow the procedure correctly. If all recipes have accompanying videos like what we have here in Panlasang Pinoy then you should have no problem at all – but that is not the case. Remember that you first learned to walk before you started running. Try to walk slowly by mastering simple dishes. Try to master the art of egg frying first before attempting to cook breaded pork chops. When you feel confident enough and you think that you are ready, that is the time that you take on the next challenge. Cook pork adobo or chicken adobo next then master them. If you follow this advice, you’ll be able to make morcon, chicken pastel, dinuguan and other more advanced level dishes in no time.

8. Timing is everything

Have you tried watching a baseball game? Observe how the batter hits the ball – there is a proper time when he swings the bat towards the approaching ball to hit it. That is timing my friends. Proper timing is one of the factors for a successful dish. Imagine that you will fry fresh fish on a regular pan (not the Teflon coated or non-stick pan that we use today). You turned the heat on and poured-in the cooking oil in the pan. You then placed the fish immediately even if the oil is not hot enough. When the pan and oil starts to heat-up, the skin of the fish will stick to the bottom of the pan since the fish sits directly on the metal end. When you try to flip the fish to fry the opposite side, you’ll see yourself scraping the spatula just to let the fish loose. You won’t be in this situation if you only waited for the oil to be hot enough before frying the fish. Develop a sense of timing by knowing when to start and when to stop.

9. Think outside the box

How many times have you heard this phrase? This might sound overused but if you’ll ponder on it and read between the lines you’ll see a whole new meaning that you can apply to almost anything. Sometimes living a square life and following everything by the book is boring. Try to hype things up. Improvise a recipe by adding ingredients or do some cooking experiment and develop a new recipe. Try to combine two dishes and see how it goes.

10. Plan ahead of time

What has this got to do with improving your cooking skills? If you think that cooking starts when the pan is heated, you need to rethink and look at the bigger picture. A good cook should be able to plan a menu. Are you aware on the consequences of poor planning or not planning at all? This is a big waste of time, energy, and money. Planning your menu ahead of time gives you control and allow you to select and purchase only the ingredients that are needed. This also gives you time to double check recipes and ensure that everything is in place. You don’t want to cook a dish if you are missing the major ingredient, do you?

11. Practice,practice,practice

This needs no explanation at all. I believe that you are determined to be a good cook if you were able to read up to this point. Do a lot of practice by cooking for your family everyday. You are hitting 2 birds with1 stone; you develop your cooking skills while making your family happy and satisfied.


Ube Halaya

Ube Halaya is a dessert made from boiled and grated purple yam which is locally known in the Philippines as “Ube”. Aside from Ube Halaya, different desserts and pastries such as ice cream, tarts, and cakes makes use of this root crop.

In this presentation, I used a ready-made boiled grated ube that I got from the Asian store. Having a prepared product such as this saves me time but I still prefer making this dessert from scratch using uncooked purple yam (If only there is any available). For those who are using uncooked purple yam – simply boil and mash them before proceeding with the steps below.


Are there other desserts that you have in mind that uses purple yam?

Try this Ube Halaya recipe.

Continue reading Ube Halaya

Beef Lugaw

Chicago winter is one of the coldest in the country. There are weeks wherein the average temperature ranges between 5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit; there are also days where it falls below zero (not to mention the wind chill factor which makes it colder). During this season, a single cup of hot chocolate or coffee really helps in making oneself warm. Hot soups and porridge are also ideal for dinner.

Beef Lugaw

While I was driving home from work last night, I suddenly thought of having Goto (Filipino porridge) for dinner. My craving was so intense that I immediately checked the freezer after arriving hoping for some extra ox tripe. Wait, we haven’t gone to the grocery yet for the week – I realized. All that’s left are pork bellies and some beef brisket. How about chicken? There has to be at least a leg quarter somewhere; I’m planning to make Arroz Caldo instead. It turned out that I used the last chicken leg quarter for another dish a few days before. I’m pretty sure that I won’t make any pork belly porridge – I’m just not a fan of the combination. How about some Beef Lugaw instead (or whatever they call it)?

I haven’t tried making porridge or congee from beef brisket before: this can be a good experiment. I thawed the last pound of beef brisket that I got from the freezer and cubed it. I grabbed my ever reliable pressure cooker and started sautéing some garlic and chopped onions then added the beef right away. A few cups of water were also added before the pot was sealed. I wanted the meat to be very tender so I let it cook for more than 30 minutes. Times up – now the pressure needs to be released from the pot right away; there’s nothing like the old fashioned method of placing the pot under running cold water. I added some spices and flavorings and some cups of water more and off it goes to the stove top to boil again. Lastly, a few cups of rice were added to complete the process. I really don’t know how to call this dish; beef lugaw sounds nice – you think?

Pininyahang Manok

Pininyahang Manok literally translates to pineapple chicken. This Recipe calls for chicken slices to be marinated in pineapple juice then stewed with pineapple chunks. Aside from pineapples, secondary ingredients such as carrots, bell pepper, and milk make-up the dish.

Pininyahang Manok

There are some variations of this dish and the obvious difference is the use of fresh/evaporated milk over coconut milk or vice versa. I would say that both variations will yield good results though I used fresh milk in this recipe because that is the style that I grew-up eating and it never ceases to give me that nostalgic feeling.

Try this Pininyahang Manok recipe. Enjoy!

Pininyahang Manok
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6
  • Serving size: 6
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 lbs. chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 12 ounces pineapple chunks, canned
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup bell pepper, cut into thick strips
  • 1 medium sized carrot, wedged
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (patis)
  • 1/2 cup fresh milk
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  1. Marinate the chicken in pineapple juice/concentrate (derived from the can of pineapple chunks) for 20 to 30 minutes
  2. Pour the cooking oil in a cooking pot / casserole then apply heat
  3. Sauté the garlic, onion, and tomatoes
  4. Put-in the chicken and cook until color of the outer part turns light brown
  5. Add the pineapple juice/concentrate marinade and fresh milk then bring to a boil
  6. Add the pineapple chunks and simmer until the chicken is tender and half of the liquid evaporates (about 20 to 30 minutes).
  7. Put-in the carrots and simmer for 5 minutes
  8. Add the bell pepper and fish sauce then simmer for 3 minutes
  9. Remove from the cooking pot / casserole and transfer to a serving dish.
  10. Serve hot. Share and enjoy!


Watch this cooking video: