Can you eat Quinoa raw?

Raw food is being touted as the best thing for you at the moment. There are Juice masters and raw food guru’s aplenty. I eat the vast majority of my vegetables raw and of course all my fruit.
This is really the best way as you do not cook out all the goodness contained. I was pondering how to prepared quinoa without cooking and it is possible with some quinoa grains and not others.

All you need to do is rinse the quinoa,soak it in cool water for 8 hours and rinse it once more. That’s it. It is still quite crunchy and if you have dentures I would forget it. But the benefit of preparing quinoa this way is of course you retain nearly all the goodness.

The other method of preparing raw quinoa is of course by sprouting them. I use quinoa this way from time to time but it is my least favourite way of eating it. It just doesn’t taste as good. If you have sprouted quinoa you know they barely change at all and the sprouts are tiny. Very unimpressive.

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About Ken

My name is Ken and I am the author of The Quinoa Cookbook. My book is the top selling book worldwide on how to cook quinoa and has over 70 quinoa recipes included.
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44 Responses to Can you eat Quinoa raw?

  1. Sergio says:

    I heard from a food scientist who did her doctorate on quinoa that eating quinoa raw actually has no additional benefits. In fact that the body absorbs the protein of quinoa better when it’s cooked. The enzymes (protein as well) that are deactivated with heat are more easily digested when cooked.


  2. sen says:

    That is very interesting – I would love to know more about that research. Thanks for your info. I am learning all the time. You would think that raw would be better wouldn’t you?

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  4. chrissy says:

    You would not think that having it raw would be any better for you b/c raw food being better for you is just a crazy idea that nobody actually believes.

  5. David says:

    Cooking food produces a number of carcinogens. It changes the chemical nature of the food quite significantly. Not only does it deplete nutrients in most foods, but it creates addictive substances. This is not true across the board, however. For spinach, for example, I usually eat some raw and some cooked, as there are nutrients released in the cooking that aren’t available raw, and vice versa.

  6. RawChick says:

    Raw Food is the only way to experience pure energy. Cooking kills enzymes and changes the chemistry of foods. Soaking Quinoa is the way to go if you want to be totally on it. You should be proud of yourself for having the nutritional and intuitive knowledge that you have.

  7. Gary says:

    That’s why I eat a cannibal diet, so I can experience pure energy.

  8. Carmen says:

    I was wondering if I could subsitute quinoa flakes for whole oats in a raw cookie bar recipe. Thank you.

  9. Chirag says:

    Almost all enzymes (ribozymes excluded) are proteins and proteins have very small temperature and pH ranges in which they can function. That being said, your stomach denatures these proteins so it doesn’t really matter if you are cooking it first.

    As to the “cooking produces a number of carcinogens,” I would caution that this is probably only true when you are burning your food as this is a simple form of incomplete combustion and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) form when you do this. If you are simply heating it or steaming it this isn’t an issue.

    I think the importance of the raw food diet is overstated. I have an anecdote to explain what I mean. In college I had a roommate who was a know-it-all and one day I was making some indian food and cooking the vegetables. Our other roommate pointed out that it looked healthy because of the massive quantity of vegetables and the fact that I was using less oil. Know-it-all scoffed and interjected that cooking destroys the nutrients in vegetables. I pointed out that he never eats vegetables and even if I am destroying 1/2 of the nutrients in my meal I am still getting more vitamins, minerals, fiber, cofactors, etc than he gets from his diet of cereal and burgers.

    So, I say lets get the low-hanging fruit and spend the time we worry about eating raw vs. cooked and go for a jog. If you are a triathlete and need that extra 1-2% boost that may come from eating raw that is great, but for most of us there is easier intervention with bigger gains.

    Sorry to lecture or preach. I only came on here to see if anybody else just toasts their Quinoa and eats it plain. Anybody?

  10. Ben says:

    Hi folks.

    With reference to the debate around raw/soaked/cooked quinoa and the resulting nutritional benefits:

    In my opinion there is a significant difference between unsoaked quinoa and soaked (germinated) quinoa, with corresponding nutritional differences when ingested by humans. Both forms could perhaps be considered “raw”, depending on personal definitions/delineations of the word, but perhaps it’s worth recognising that there is a nutritional difference.

  11. slyfoot says:

    The person with the story from their college days needs to think logically. The fact that your room mate ate burgers doesn’t change the fact that raw veggies would be better for you. Also the difference in experiencing vitality and prevention of disease is far greater than 1 or 2 percent. I suggest you check into the works of Price Pottenger and Victoria Boutenko. I’m not for doing anything 100% all the time. However it’s been my experience that so called “health conscience” people who don’t do a high raw diet are in fact pseudo skeptics and like to defend their cook food and wheat eating ways without every having tried 100% raw for 30 days. Also, sprint intervals will produce more HGH than jogging. It takes less time too.
    Then there’s the whole aspect of never being sick or having so much as a headache. Those who haven’t tried a high raw diet say the price is too high. Those who have, say the price is too high not to do it. The former are of course referring to the effort required to change not the actual price. Hope this helps people and didn’t sound snooty.

  12. Johnny says:

    I like your response slyfoot… My sentiments exact. Especially on the sprinting vs jogging idea. Walking burns fat but does not build muscle. Jogging burns fat and muscle. Sprinting Builds muscle and burns fat… I sprint. Sorry to get off subject. I have never eaten quinoa. I will start this week!

  13. guest says:

    There is a bitter coating on the original south american quinoa that protects it from birds and pests.

    eating this quinoa raw can turn your lips and tongue numb and is bitter tasting.

    But rinsing it and washing it gets rid of it. Also quinoa sprouts rapidly, in just a few hours.

    So washing and then soaking a bit will soften it up and remove the bitter protective coating while remaining raw.

  14. Allen says:

    I just tried Quinoa for the first time a few minutes ago. Of course I was scared of what it would taste like, seeing I was never really introduced to many different foods growing up. I mixed the Quinoa with my Organic Pinto beans, and put an Egg right on top, with some Pepper Sauce. It was fantastic. My wife ate some as well, and we have found our new rice. I recently switched my young family to organic. More expensive yes, but they are worth it, and I get a chance to try new things.

  15. rhoadster says:

    Recently adding raw, un-rinsed quinoa to my blended fruit & veggie smoothies (sometimes soaking in the green smoothie overnight) has left me with many questions. It doesn’t change the taste of the smoothie & most of it comes out in the other end, appearing to be unprocessed or absorbed into my body. This makes me wonder if I am getting any benefit whatsoever.

    So I asked my Integrative Medicine doctor friend & she recommended cooking it, or for raw foodists, soaking or sprouting it. I will be trying this next to see if my body ends up absorbing & processing it, instead of sending it straight on through to the large intestines & into the septic tank.

  16. rhoadster says:

    Has anyone heard of grinding it (like coffee beans)? Will the body absorb it this way? Or simply pass it thru like the whole part?

  17. Chey says:

    Yes you would think that raw would be better….but some foods such as red kidney beans are highly toxic if ingested raw…so I’m inclined to think….that if it can’t be eaten raw…then perhaps we aren’t supposed to be eating it…?..? Just a thought….

  18. zenobia says:

    I’ve just started adding quinoa to my diet and I love it! But am a bit hesitant to try it (and all grains) raw.
    If we soak the quinoa for longer (say, 2 days), will it get softer and easier to eat raw?

  19. onlyme says:

    I also love quinoa and it’s great for added texture to salads. I’ve been eating Bob’s gluten free raw oatmeal but I’m switching and today soaked quinoa (it already has tiny tendrils) that will be added to my daily breakfast of berries (1 pint blue, the rest strawberries, raspberries and blackberries) topped with heaping tablespoon of ground organic flax and spices — if you have any inflammatory problems (i.e. arthritis), add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper which spikes the berries flavor but is balanced from being too hot by 1 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon (only use Ceylon, check cinnamon out to see why). I also add turmeric. Also juice daily to get my raw greens adding ginger and the spices. Takes about a month to give up all breads, but once you do it, the cravings go away and you feel great!!! Also, try a bouncer, convenient, small and you can jump off and on, like a sprint while watching TV or listening to fast music.

  20. pumper says:

    I love cooked quinoa, but am 6 days into a raw foods diet. So I sprouted some quinoa and then stored it in the frig on a tray loosely covered with a kitchen towel. After a day some of the sprouts turned a soft pink! What is it? Are they safe to eat?

  21. Ken says:

    Hi Eileen -you need to rinse the sprouts 2 or 3 times a day. I do not know what the pink colour means.

  22. Lauri says:

    I am a vegan who has known for a long while that I needed to be more raw. I just watched “Food Matters” and that was the kickstart that I needed. The raw food guru in that movie says that 80% raw is good enough. I rather like Chey’s (see above) take on it: if it can’t be eaten raw, you probably should cook it. This means that most everything is on the table for raw eating (fruits, veggies, nuts, and so on), except maybe we still should cook grains. From an anthropological viewpoint, that seems to make sense to me, as our ancestors typically cooked grains into edible foods.

  23. Bob the Chef says:

    Only way to experience “Pure energy”? Hahahahaha!

  24. raw novice says:

    Only people who have not tried a raw diet are skeptics! Try it for a week even; the results from that will make you realize you want to go more!

  25. Rev. Dr. Tim says:

    Hi all, I just thought I’d add my two cents in on cooked verses raw eating. I started too switch to raw eating a few years ago and I was amazed at what took place in my body and what false beliefs surfaced, about eating. First off my body went through a detox or as they say a healing crisis. Dealing with weakness, aches, pains, runny nose, the runs, etc… you get the jist. After a short period of time two to three weeks, I started to get my energy back and then some as I continued to eat raw and juice. I noticed that if I got a cut anywhere on my body it would heal rapidly. I had no pain anywhere in my body. I needed only two hours sleep and I would wake up happy which wasn’t my norm not that I would wake up miserable but just your average state of mind upon awakening. My vision got to be 20/20, my strength and endurance was unbelievable and other physical changes took place.
    My false beliefs about eating came to the surface. I had no idea that I believed this way about eating. My only thoughts on eating were that I am hungry let me eat, it taste good or it doesn’t. I never gave eating much thought only that I was hungry etc.
    One faulty belief that came up was that you have to eat solid food too survive and to put the weight on. Still another false belief that came up was that what you drink just quenchers your thirst and doesn’t add much to your body weight and nutrition. I know this isn’t true but it has been a blind learned belief from the moment I was born. If you notice the focus in advertising etc, has always been on solid foods and not much at all on liquids.
    Everything in life is a habit and when you try to change a habit it can be difficult and the way you eat is no different. I got back onto cooked foods and developed all the aches and pains and issues I had before. It is the same thing that happened when I quite smoking it took a few time to quite smoking and finally I did by self hypnosis back in 1985. I am presently getting back into raw foods again because I know without a doubt the benifits of eating raw far out weigh the difficulty it takes in changing my way of eating.
    I would suggest that you try it yourself before you judge it, making sure that you are getting all the vitamins and mineral etc in your diet. It is easer to say things coming from an interlectural point of view but in order to truely understand and to believe in anything you must experience it physically for your self since we are a feeling being. My words here mean nothing to you unless you experience it for yourself as well. What I mean by this is that my words may mean something too you interlecturally but in order for you to truely believe it you must experience it for yourself.
    I’m going to try quinoa for the first time and was wondering if anyone who eats it raw has ever tried to grind it into a powder using a Quisinart coffee grinders called the (coffee bar) it’s a small appliance that grinds up coffee beans or any grinder for that matter. Any info on the subject would be much appreciated. Thank you
    In Love and Light, Rev. Dr. Tim

  26. Julia says:

    hello Tim,
    are you saying you had only raw juices and no solid food at all? That makes little sense to me as fibre is a nutritional requirement too. No wonder you felt more energy – eg fruit juices without the fibre from whole fruits spikes your blood sugar. Liquids only is fine short-term if you are doing a fast or detox, but would not be sensible long-term, and I personally think water only fast is better than a fruit juice fast.

    As for powdering quinoa, I suppose you could if you knew for sure that it was prewashed quinoa. I would imagine for most quinoa it would be better to soak, sprout and then dehydrate before grinding – or you would end up with something really bitter tasdting and inedible!

  27. alicia says:

    So I like the idea of raw food diet but I do believe that some human foods are healthier cooked, especially vegetables, legumes etc. Also what I dont understand in the raw food diet is why raw food is anymore pure or primitive than blended or frozen or otherwise mechanically processed foods? Is it natural to express oil from an olive? Is it “natural” to blend food? Afterall, humans were not born with electrical and mechanical technology?!?!! So what is the ideal diet? Anything we can easily sink our teeth into, peel, pick, or kill? Hmmmmm. Perhaps we really are half alien!!!

  28. alicia says:

    Oh and I like my quinoa cooked but will try sprouting and rinsing this week!

  29. Ann says:

    I recently bought a tub of “Woodpecker” Quinoia. It was in the produce aisle at a local supermarket, with all the dried nuts, coconut chips, granola, etc. It says on the back of the tub, “to sit back, dig in and enjoy”. Does this mean I don’t have to cook it? My husband and I are baffled by this and I can’t find a website for the manufacturer. I bought it because it was fairly inexpensive for quinoia. Does anyone know of this brand or has anyone eaten it? Do we have to cook it, or is it a snack that can be eaten right out of the container? Would love to hear your comments.

  30. mr.mcCrinkleburg says:

    I dont see a reason to get defensive on on raw versus cooked… If the man likes some foods cooked, let him eat them cooked. I see the thought process in the college story. Of course there is also the difference between ‘natural’ cooking and new technology such as microwaves. food for thought.

  31. Sarah-Jane says:

    It’s not only about the nutrients, it’s about if there is any life force energy left in it. Called ‘Prana’ in Indian traditions. If you boil or heat something until it’s mush, it’s dead, there is no prana left in it. Think about eating a piece of raw cabbage, you can still feel its life energy. Then think of eating a piece of cabbage boiled until a soggy mush… it’s totally dead! As I understand it raw and sprouting food is alive and you take on that energy. So I guess soaked quinoa will have kicked in the life force to start it growing and sprouted would contain the most. And some light steaming after soaking would be better than boiling excessively.
    It’s food for thought anyway…!

  32. Rhonda says:

    I stayed at the Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove, CA in 1997 and I had a sprouted Quinoa salad which was delicious, and included cucumber, tomato, avocado and parsely, I believe. The Institute practices Natural Hygiene, which is a stricter form of raw vegan. My thoughts are that sprouted would be better than cooked. Search the web, and you will see the many benefits of sprouting grain, not only for increased protein content, but also for better digestion. Cooked quinoa would be more difficult to digest than a sprouted grain.

  33. Troy says:

    I just bought my first bag of quinoa at Costco the otherday and tonight while I was cooking a pizza I decided to sprinkly some quinoa on top. I am just now eating the pizza with the slightly toasted quinoa on top. It’s not bad, but I wish I would have found this site earlier as I would have soaked the quinoa first. It doesn’t seem to be settling so well in my stomach… hmmm, maybe it’s sprouting.

  34. KuriG says:

    Yes, you “can” eat quinoa raw – and I prefer it that way. (Same for oats – I’ll never eat cooked oatmeal again…!!)

    I’m not any kind of “professional,” just a student…
    Many people (myself included until recently) think of quinoa as a grain – possibly because many of us consume in our lives in place of a grain – but, in fact, it is a seed. Like many seed (hemp, flax, etc) it has a protective shell that must be breached in order for us to gain nutritional its benefit. Typically, our digestive process is not sufficient to do this – that said, I’m not certain in the case of quinoa specifically. Cooking can, of course breach this shell so, cooking would likely be better than mere soaking. However, the benefits of sprouting are off the charts and would, at my guess’timation, far surpass those of cooking.

    The study Sergio mentions in the first post is interesting and I’d love to see it. My understanding at this point is that the increase of vitamin content in sprouts during the sprouting period is tremendous. Sprouting also releases various enzymes that help our digestive process to assimilate proteins, carbohydrates and fat – I’m wondering whether this study looked at “sprouted” or simply at “raw.”

    I’m no raw fanatic, but I’m a raw quinoa fan!!

  35. Matt says:

    Raw = Living = Balance Alkalinity & Acidity
    Cooked = Dead = Devitalized = Most likely Super Acidic

  36. Nic says:

    I just ate some quinoa flakes raw… they tasted raw like they want to be cooked, feel heavy & dry in my belly. I’m not a ‘raw foodie’ (omnivorous & love a steak) but raw makes sense to me, beans and peas taste fantastic more alive & not surprising really, guess I’d better check toxic raw foods. Was hoping to find the definitive answer on what happens inside me when I eat quinoa… guess I’m finding out.. doesn’t feel so good. Guess I should’ve soaked them like suggested above.
    Oh & I think pink = fermentation, I heard white rice (though brown is so tasty & feels good IMO) supports bacteria populations very well/quickly.

  37. chrissy says:

    All of these people talking trash about eating raw are out of their damn mind! It is the best thing ever and makes me feel invincible. Like some said above, 2 hours less sleep per night, massive energy, no headaches, mood swings, anxiety…you can go #2 around 3 times a day, your sex drive increases, your memory and concentration enhance, you NEVER feel bloated or overly full, you drop any extra weight with a quickness…your skin becomes clear and it glows…you basically become a new confident person that feels like they can conquer anything in their path. I still go back and forth with eating cooked food, and i am miserable when i’m not raw (with the exception of some quinoa and sunday nights at restaurants :-)))

  38. Tom says:

    The quinoa flakes in my local store say they need cooking, unlike grain flakes which can be eaten raw. I’d soak the flakes first if I wanted to eat them raw … but then why not buy the whole seeds and soak them, they’re cheaper and presumably fresher as the insides haven’t been exposed to air. Yum, I’m going to go and eat some soaked quinoa now on a raw salad with a raw ground almond based sauce :)

  39. Susan says:

    hmm. These comments are all so interesting… Here’s an easy way for anyone/everyone to understand the raw vs cooked. First, I will say, Not all things can/should be eaten raw! Someone mentioned kidney beans. Perfect example! Even AFTER they’re cooked, they’re still not really digestible. (that’s why you have bloating, gas, etc.) In addition, your body actually has to utilize energy to try & process these beans. If you didn’t eat the kidney beans, the energy (vits/mins, etc) from your more easily digestible food would have gone to nourish and energize your body. Sprouting: One plus to sprouting is, if you take an “acid producing legume” and sprout it, it becomes alkaline. (acid ph = disease) It also becomes digestible! AND when you sprout something like Quinoa, you’re getting all the value of the Quinoa PLUS you’ve “awakened” it…brought it to life. When you do that you bring another entire group of vitamins, enzymes, etc. to the table. Literally. The more “live foods” you eat, the healthier you are. Without being disgusting, here is a simple barometer that will tell you whether you are eating correctly and have a “happy” gut: Your bowel movements should be Effortless, Odorless & a Clean Wipe. (no magazine necessary… It shouldn’t take you more than a moment to eliminate waste) If this is not the case, you need to revisit what you’ve been eating. If you eat a 100% raw diet for one week, on (or around) the 8th day… voila! Of course, that doesn’t mean only apples for a week. I teach a workshop to children and what I tell them is simple: “You need to eat as many colors, shapes and textures as possible!” And juicing should ONLY be used to address acute conditions. A better way to “drink” your foods is to make fruit and/or veggie smoothies. This way you get all the fiber. You need to be eating your food in it’s entirety and as close to its “original form” as possible. If you have a Vita-Mix, you can make hot soups, still keeping it raw, while at the same time ingesting way more than you’d ever be able to eat in a salad. This doesn’t mean ALL fruits & veggies are to be eaten. There are some foods (Spinach, for example) which are high in oxalic acid and if you have bone issues should not be eaten raw! If you cook spinach, the oxalic acid is no longer a problem. When you start a new diet you need to do some homework or speak with someone who has done the research for you. Note, too, that the “8 glasses of water per day” is not true when you’re eating raw fruits & veggies. I drink about a qt of lemon water each day. It’ll take a week or so but you’ll find you no longer have sugar or salt cravings. Your body is balanced. (remember about the ph? All animal products & processed foods cause your body to become acidic. Your body will try to neutralize the acid, it can only do so by utilizing the calcium, generally from your bones & teeth!!! And women have a tough enough time with osteo issues!) At the end of that first week, you’ll also find you’re extremely hydrated! More so than you’ll ever remember. And being hydrated means your organs function better, your blood flows better, toxins are flushed, you’ll experience a loss of weight and being hydrated also addresses lots of female issues! This isn’t just a fad or new diet — well for some it may be… but there are huge health benefits to eating raw. The bottom line is, you can’t just “decide” to eat raw and then crunch away on a bowl of quinoa. You have to learn how to eat again. We’ve all been “programmed” to eat a particular way. Hell, I grew up in a house where every recipe was made with either Kellogg’s Corn Flakes or Campbell’s Mushroom Soup!!! ugh. That’s my rant. Sorry it was so long. It’s time now to dig into some raw Superfudge!!! yum! Enjoy!

  40. tanja says:

    hi, I was eating raw grain mix, quinoa, spelt amarath kamut milet buckweat raw every day for a year. I would grind them in a cofee grinder and put them in smoothie without cooking or sprouting. Now i developed celiac desease and i have serious problems with digestion from it. Dr is concerned. I ruined my life and health with it

  41. Msdarling says:

    Don’t be worried about eating quinoa raw cuz it’s actually not even a grain it’s actually part of the greens family, like spinach and chard. So those who were worried about eating raw grains, no worries. :) quinoa is very fascinating. People say it tastes nutty, the thing it grows in they call a berry, most people think it is a grain or fruit but it’s actually a vegetable. What a little trickster right? Haha I thought that was interesting. Any who, all in all quinoa is like the best. :) I mix mine with raw soy milk, a little raw honey and some cinnamon for breakfast, Mmm so good.

  42. Wow! What an amazing long-time-frame post and comments column!

    Firstly, Susan, all the points you make are fantastic!

    Secondly, Tanja, grains are a bad idea for basically everyone on the planet. It’s not natural to eat grains every day. Our pancreas cannot handle this, and many people are becoming intolerant to grains because of over-use.

    All grains, seeds and nuts (which are all seeds anyways) should be “activated” before eating. This “activation” refers to the enlivening process of the seed. It de-activates all the enzyme inhibitors which are keeping the seed in it’s dormant state; which in turn brings the seed into life and on the rapid process of sprouting.

    If you eat a seed which has not been activated, you are eating powerful enzyme inhibitors which will inhibit your own body’s digestive enzymes, and make hard work for the body with possibly no nutritional gain.

    Quinoa, like any seed (grain, nut, seed) should be rinsed then soaked for at least 24 hours with something acidic like unprocessed apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or raw fermented liquid whey and can be made into quinoa milk, cooked (for those who like it that way), or fermented further to make a probiotic food source. The uses for the seed are limitless!

    Also, like all seeds, Quinoa should not be consumed every day, or a build up of some toxins could result, especially if this activation process has not been undertaken.

  43. And Msdarling, Although quinoa may belong to that family, it is still a seed not a green. You would need to be eating the leaves to call it a green!

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