One of the fun—or complicated—things about being g-free is the exposure to hard-to-pronounce foods that, without a need to be g-free, you’d probably never encounter. Enter quinoa (keen-wah), the tiny wonder food called “the supergrain of the future” with a chameleon-like ability to stand in for a variety of evil but much loved gluten-containing items.

quinoa Quinoa is a member of the goosefoot species of plants, closely related to beets, spinach and—prepare thy taste buds—tumbleweed. We harvest and eat the seeds of the plant, giving us the grain-like granules that are quinoa. Like tumbleweed, quinoa thrives in desolate conditions, and most quinoa is grown on a bleak-sounding plateau in the Andes.

A surge in popularity has increased demand, but don’t let The Guardian’s recent shaming on quinoa buyers talk you down from giving it a try. Not only is quinoa a nutritional powerhouse—read about its benefits here—it’s a lifeline for the poverty-stricken regions that cultivate this increasingly popular food.

So, citizens of the world, you can feel good knowing that much like dark chocolate and red wine, you’re consuming something that’s not only good for you, but good for the world.

I can sense your hesitation: “But, GFreeKitchen, what do I DO with quinoa?” (Confession: I stashed my first bag of quinoa in the back of my cupboard for more than six months until I figured it out). A few easy ways to get started:

  • Use it in place of rice in side dishes or stuffings
  • Prepare it like oats (a la oatmeal) in the morning
  • Use it in pace of orzo or cous cous in cold salads

For more ways to use quinoa, discover the Top 20 Quinoa Recipes from!