Whole grain quinoa, the Andean staple turned American "superfood," is a versatile ingredient for savory lunches and dinners; quick-cooking quinoa flakes shine when you want an easy but healthy breakfast high in protein but low in fat and calories.
What Are Quinoa Flakes?
Similar to rolled oats, quinoa flakes are simply mechanically flattened grains of quinoa; while they do cost quite a bit more than oatmeal, they make a convenient breakfast suitable for all types of diets, from vegan to gluten-free. Quinoa flakes provide all the health benefits of whole grain quinoa with a more familiar breakfast texture and a much quicker cooking time.
How to Cook Quinoa Flakes
Unlike whole grain quinoa, quinoa flakes cook in almost no time, just like instant oatmeal. Bring water or milk to a rapid boil, add the quinoa flakes, let the pot sit for a minute or two, stir well, and you're ready to go. Use a 1:3 ratio of quinoa flakes to water (1 cup of quinoa flakes to 3 cups of water). You can always adjust the water according to your preference for texture; use less for thicker cereal and more for thinner cereal.
Quinoa flakes can also be prepared in a microwave; mix the cereal and liquid in a microwave-safe bowl twice the size of the volume of liquid. Cook on high for about two minutes for one serving and up to six minutes for four servings, or until the cereal thickens to your liking. Stir well before serving.
You can optionally toast them in a dry skillet until they turn fragrant and golden before you add them to the boiling liquid. Use dry quinoa flakes in baked goods, as a gluten-free breading, and anyplace you might use oats.
What Do They Taste Like?
Quinoa flakes have the same mild, slightly nutty flavor of whole grain quinoa, and similarly, they can be just a little bitter. Toasting makes them taste sweeter with a more pronounced nuttiness. The flakes adapt to whatever other ingredients you pair them with, from almond milk and berries in a breakfast bowl to robust spices in a veggie burger.
Quinoa Flakes Recipes
Quinoa flakes let you be creative, from building a custom breakfast bowl to boosting the protein in granola bars for a healthy, easy-to-pack treat on the trail, after a workout, or for lunch on the go.
Where to Buy Quinoa Flakes
While you can often find quinoa in the bulk foods section of health food stores, you aren't likely to find quinoa flakes in bulk. Instead, they are usually found with the other gluten-free foods at health food stores, in the natural foods aisle, or in the breakfast foods aisle near the oatmeal and other breakfast grains. You can also purchase them online.
Store quinoa flakes, opened or unopened, in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life, generally up to a year. Transfer them to an airtight container after you open the store packaging, unless it reseals tightly. Once they've been cooked, it's best to consume quinoa flakes right away.
Nutrition and Benefits
The exact nutritional profile varies depending on the brand, but generally, a 1/3 cup serving of dry quinoa flakes provides about 130 calories and just 2 grams of fat. Quinoa flakes also provide a healthy amount of dietary fiber, with about 2.5 grams per 1/3 cup, and 4.3 grams of protein. Because they contain all nine of the essential amino acids that you must obtain from food sources, quinoa flakes are considered a complete protein just like whole grain quinoa.
Quinoa Flakes vs. Rolled Oats
You can substitute quinoa flakes in equal measure for rolled oats in just about any use. The larger oats do affect the texture of baked goods more than small quinoa flakes do. Both products cook quickly and provide plant-based protein and fiber; oats, however, do not provide all nine essential amino acids. Although both are naturally gluten-free, oats are more likely to be processed in a facility that also processes wheat and therefore, more susceptible to cross-contamination than quinoa flakes.