Trail Cooking

The Quinoa Question!

Quinoa…..a seed rather than a grain, yet treated a grain. One of the many so-called “super foods”. Gluten-free. Works great as a substitute for rice, especially for brown rice. However, it isn’t easy to find ‘ready to use’ or ‘instant’ versions of it at stores. But with a little tinkering you can eat it on the trail while backing.

As for the nutritional side? Compared to instant white rice it comes in at a bit better (oddly enough instant white rice has a lower carb rating that regular rice, due to the steaming process. Crazy, I know!) Servings are ½ cup cooked for information below –


  • 111 calories
  • 20 grams carbohydrates
  • 2.5 grams fiber
  •  4 grams protein
  • Glycemic Index 53

Instant White Rice:

  • 85 calories
  • 19 grams carbohydrates
  • .5 gram fiber
  • 2 grams protein
  • Glycemic Index of 65

So, more calories, fiber & protein. All of which are great for backpacking and trail cooking! You can use quinoa in many recipes, from sweet to savory, even in baked goods. Any recipe on Trailcooking that calls for rice can be adjusted for quinoa (see below for a link on how to dehydrate it at home, and have instant quinoa on hand for meals). Once dehydrated use it the same as rice. Though a tip: You will find you will eat less quinoa than rice. So if it calls for 1 cup instant rice, you might want to only use .4 or .75 a cup of instant quinoa. Adjust water down of course.

One caveat however:

Quinoa has a taste bud curve. It is rather….earthy. Get used to eating it at home first. Learn to spice it, how to salt it. Just like rice, it needs help in shining.

Now then! Here are some recipes to get you going –

Fuel Saver Quinoa

Thermos Method Quinoa

Spinach Dip Quinoa

Quinoa Raisin Drop Cookies

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Quinoa Cereal

Dehydrating quinoa at home, for your own instant version.