Quinoa is a great base for healthy and satisfying backpacking meals. It’s high in protein and contain all nine essential amino acids those our body can’t naturally produce. In addition to protein, quinoa also contains carbohydrates, fats, fiber, minerals and B6 group vitamins. Thanks to its nutritional value ancient Incas called quinoa “the golden grain” and “the mother of all grains”.
Technically a seed, quinoa is gluten-free that makes it safe for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Nutty and earthy, quinoa is a healthy and very versatile product. It can be eaten on its own as a side dish or can be added to soups, salads, baked goods and even desserts. It also makes a great breakfast cereal or porridge mixed with dried fruit, milk, and nuts.
While quinoa cooks fairly quickly, it has one drawback. Quinoa seeds have a naturally bitter coating that must be rinsed off before preparing. It makes cooking with quinoa on the trail a bit inconvenient. Therefore I prefer to cook it ahead of time and then dehydrate to make my own “instant quinoa”. Using instant quinoa saves you fuel and time while backpacking.
How to properly cook and dehydrate quinoa
Rinse the quinoa under cold water to remove it’s bitter coating.
Bring water to boil (2 cups water or broth for every cup of dry quinoa), season with salt.
Add the rinsed quinoa and return to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 12-15 minutes, or until tender and almost all the liquid is absorbed.
Take off the heat and let sit, covered, for another 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and let cool slightly.
Spread cooked quinoa on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets or parchment paper in an even, thin layer.
Dry at 55C / 130F for 3-6 hours until brittle (crispy).
Put dried quinoa into vacuum-sealed containers, jars or zip lock bag.
Store in a dark, dry place.