How to Prepeare Low Calorie Quinoa

I feel like I just found a gold mine.

Now I know how people who win the lottery must feel.

You must understand, I am by no means a strict calorie counter, but it’s nice to be aware.

So once I discovered this method, I realized I’m never going back.


All of them: rice, bulgur, millet, spelt, barley, to name a few. I’ve even got oatmeal! But today I’m tackling quinoa.

I know what you’re thinking, stop yacking and tell us what the big deal is! What is this magical concept?


The secret is just water. If it has a higher water content, it’s going to be lower calorie. 

But won’t that make it soggy?

Nope. The method here is just cooking the grains (or beans) in twice the water for a longer period of time so it soaks all the extra liquid up. It still retains a perfect texture while giving you a remarkably low calorie count!

I’m sold. How do I make this?

How To Prepare Low Calorie Quinoa

This really opens the door to limitless possibilities. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Nutritional Comparison

Regular Cooked Quinoa 

Calories: 222


My Low Calorie Quinoa (Calculated using the nutritional label on the back of the package of my bulk Whole Foods quinoa)

Calories: 110 (!!!)


1c. dry quinoa

4c. water

1t coconut oil, or other oil (optional)

The rule of thumb is 1 cup of water per 1/4 cup of dry quinoa.


Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve under running water. Heat a pot, with oil if using, over medium high heat, and add in dry quinoa. Toast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally but making sure it doesn’t burn. After the quinoa has toasted for a few minutes and, is lightly browned, add water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Make sure to NOT life the lid during this time. If you will not be using the quinoa immediately, letting it sit the pot over super low heat help it soak up the water even more, but that last part is totally optional.

Fluff with a fork and enjoy your low calorie nutrition packed deliciousness!

Yes, deliciousness should be a word.


-Kelly M.



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  1. says

    This is a great idea!! I actually haven’t made quinoa in a while, but it’s taking up space in my cupboard so I need to use it up sometime soon. I’ll keep this method in mind!!

  2. says

    Erm, won’t it have less flavor? I’m trying to wrap my head around this, but I’m tired and having a sugar crash, so I think I’m missing something.

    • says

      Sorry about your sugar crash. 😉 I suppose it would seem like it would lose flavor… but the quinoa actually retains its flavor and texture quite well.

  3. says

    My sister refuses to touch quinoa because she said it’s like eating a BeanieBaby. Now I think of it as BeanieBaby stuffing.

    My favorite grain is basmati rice. It smells like popcorn! I used to refuse to touch white rice but then I learned something neat: brown rice vs. white rice is a moot debate; the white rice has less minerals but brown rice inhibits protein absorption from other foods. I figured since grains don’t have much in way of minerals anyway, screw it, I’ll eat the rice I like.

    Oh, BEST grain recipe I’ve ever made, hands down, was Averie’s peanut butter Caribbean garbanzo bean thingy. It had grains, chickpeas, spices, fruity bits, peanut butter…fuuuu that was good!

    I’m back in town now! We need to meet up for lunch sometime!!

    • says

      I love the BeanieBaby analogy! I’m sorry quinoa has been ruined for you, though, but at least it was done in the funniest way possible.

      I never really thought about it… but basmati rice really does sme like popcorn! I’ll have to tackle it next in your honor. 😉 And thank you for the tip about brown rice! That’s especially helpfu now that I have to *gasp!* cut down on whole grains.

      We need to meet up! Like, yesterday! 😉

  4. says

    Wow! This is totally genius. I am going to have to try it. Love love love! Plus, I bet the extra water makes it a bit fluffier, no? I’m a big fan of quinoa and also very concerned with maintaining my 100lb weight loss, so this is quite exciting for me.

  5. says

    I usually cook mine with x2 the amount of water as I have quinoa, and it’s a little dry that way. If I add mroe water, it doesn’t quite soak up. Maybe the water will help it from flying everywhere? Or maybe I should stop using the red variety.

  6. says

    How fun! Not being into obsessive calorie counting but definitely liking my volume, I’d love to try this with a mix of water and coconut milk :)

  7. pselvarangan says

    Chemistry wise how by cooking in more water can the calorie of Quinoa be lowered? I do not think so. One may drain the water and get a small buffering in lowering the starch content..thats about it.

  8. Steph says

    Do you think if I upped the ratio of water to quinoa to 8:1, it would make the quinoa to be 55 calories?

  9. Berni says

    so, i’ve never made Quinoa and i’m eager to try this.
    and i don’t know if this is a silly question or not…
    but that 1 cup of dry Quinoa, is that 1 serving at 110 calories?!
    if not, how many servings does this recipe make?

  10. Alli says

    Is the 1 cup of dry Quinoa 110Cal or is it if you then measure out a cup of what you COOKED for 110cal?
    thanks :) Happy new year!!

  11. Rosie says

    Hi there ! I’ve just started eating Quinoa having discovered how nutritous it is. I’m not very good at keeping up my protein levels so was delighted to see Quinoa was good for that too! I’m also on a diet to get rid of some extra weight I’ve gained from a recent holiday so to find your recipe for a lower calorie way of cooking Quinoa was a Eureka moment ! Talk about good timing. Thank you !
    The other day I cooked some Quinoa using a mushroom stock cube in the water to add some flavour and it was rather nice. Regarding the large amount of water used in relation to the amount of Quinoa, if lack of flavour is a concern, any flavour stock cube could be added as long as it wasn’t too full of salt.

    In answer to Pselvarangan’s comment of August 7th 2012 , I would suggest that the reason why the calorie count is halved is because the Quinoa swells so much with the extra water that there is less actual Quinoa in that cup. More water means less Quinoa !

  12. Rosie says

    Hi there ! I added a mushroom stock cube to the cooking water & the result was rather nice ! Any flavour would do. In answer to Pselvarangan’s comment I would suggest that the reason why the calorie count is halved is because the extra water causes the Quinoa to swell so much that you are getting less actual Quinoa in that cup, so less calories ! Great news !

  13. Rosie says

    Hi there ! I added a mushroom stock cube to the cooking water & the result was rather nice ! In answer to Pselvarangan’s comment I would suggest that the reason why the calorie count is halved is because the extra water causes the Quinoa to swell so much that you are getting less actual Quinoa in that cup, so less calories ! Great news !

  14. Rosie says

    Sorry folks ! The site kept telling me to moderate my comment, which I did , TWICE, & now it’s printed all three ammendments ! Aplogies !

  15. Amy says

    Love this idea exited to try!! I usually boil the water and then add quinoa. What’s the strategy behind pre-toasting? Does it enhance flavor??

  16. Michelle Owens says

    I totally want to try this method, but in the directions above, it seems the number of minutes you let the quinoa simmer is missing… like just a blank space. Help!

  17. Carol says

    Can’t see the number of minutes to simmer the quinoa – how long? The usual 15 minutes or longer because there is more water?

  18. Quinn Alexandra says

    Can you do a rice version of this on your website? Would it just be the same idea as this but with rice?

  19. Ayjona says

    You might want to add that you’d have to use half the quinoa to cut the calorie intake in half, water notwithstanding.

    • says

      Hi Esmay! I take the calories of the dry quinoa, and divide it by the new number of servings. Same quinoa, more water, bigger serving. Does that help?

  20. alexie says

    So basically, if you add twice as much water as suggested you cut calories in half? GENIOUS!

    this could work with couscous right?

  21. Kate says

    I followed the recipe tonight, using 1/4 C quinoa and 1 C water and it was the prefect consistency! Thank you!

  22. Jade says

    I tried this trick with rice and it was wonderful! I plan on trying next with the quinoa!
    Do you think this trick would work for healthy pasta noodles too? And I don’t have access to coconut flour, so would the oatmeal trick still work without it?

    Thank you so much! :)

  23. Cassidee says

    This trick is great! I use it all the time! This may be a stupid question, but would this trick work for noodles? Please respond! :)

    • says

      Hi Cassidee! Not a stupid question at all. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for noodles because pasta doesn’t absorb all the water it’s cooked in.


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