Avi­va Kanoff is the author of The No-Pota­to Passover. Check back on Fri­day for her next post for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

By now, most peo­ple have heard of quinoa, the super­food. With plen­ty of fiber, pro­tein and vit­a­mins it sounds like a super idea. The prob­lem aris­es when the time comes to actu­al­ly pre­pare this some­what unfa­mil­iar item and pos­es a spe­cial prob­lem dur­ing the upcom­ing hol­i­day of Passover. Jew­ish peo­ple tend to favor foods from their par­tic­u­lar part of the Dias­po­ra dur­ing these eight days. And real­ly, how many Jews are actu­al­ly from Bolivia? But nev­er fear, we Jews are a glo­ri­ous melt­ing pot! We may have been kicked out of many places but we wind up tak­ing the menus with us.


I have recent­ly trav­eled around the coun­try to do cook­ing demon­stra­tions in response to my new book, The No-Pota­to Passover, and I have found that peo­ple have a fear and mis­trust of this sim­ple Boli­vian staple.

But what exact­ly is quinoa?

Is it a grain? A seed? A veg­etable? Help!

Quinoa (pro­nounced keen-whah”) is often mis­tak­en for a grain, but it’s actu­al­ly a seed — one that orig­i­nat­ed thou­sands of years ago in the Andes Moun­tains. Dubbed the gold of the Incas,” it’s trea­sured because of it’s nutri­tive val­ue. Quinoa actu­al­ly has more pro­tein than any oth­er grain or seed and offers a com­plete pro­tein, mean­ing it con­tains all the essen­tial amino acids our bod­ies can’t make on their own. It’s also a great source of cal­ci­um and is high in lysine, the B vit­a­mins and iron. To top it off, the seed is easy to digest and gluten free! If you are count­ing carbs or just want to eat health­i­er quinoa is your new best friend.

Why has this tiny seed brought forth such huge con­fu­sion?

For starters, mis­in­for­ma­tion, or don’t believe the bag!! Typ­i­cal­ly, the label will state to boil for 15 min­utes. In my expe­ri­ence, quinoa is not ready for con­sump­tion before 20- 25 min­utes of cook­ing time. Only when the seed pops” and it is soft, is it ready to be eaten.

But it does­n’t taste like anything.

Aha! thats where you come in. The won­der of quinoa is that you can make it taste like any­thing you want. Think of the bib­li­cal mana that fell from heav­en. 

Do you like savory fla­vors? Reach for the pep­per and gar­lic. Mid­dle East­ern more your style? How about cumin and safron? Use dif­fer­ent col­ored veg­eta­bles and tangy fruit to add more tex­ture and zing” and soon you too will be singing the prais­es of quinoa. It will sup­ply the won­der­ful can­vas to bring out your inner culi­nary artist.

Mixed Berry Quinoa with Roast­ed Almonds


1 cup red quinoa
1 cup sliv­ered almonds
1 cup white quinoa
5 – 6 medi­um mush­rooms, chopped
1 cup gold­en raisins
1 Vidalia onion, diced
1 cup Craisins
2 tbsp. canola oil
• salt and pep­per to taste


1. Cook quinoa accord­ing to pack­age.
2. In a sep­a­rate skil­let, sauté onions in canola oil until gold­en brown.
3. Add chopped mush­rooms and sauté for one minute.
4. Add raisins, craisins and almonds, and sauté for anoth­er minute.
5. When quinoa is ready, add to pan and mix with oth­er ingre­di­ents.
6. Add salt and pep­per to taste.

Recipe from The No Pota­to Passover (Brio Books; 2012 Hard­cov­er $29.95)

Avi­va Kanoff paints, teach­es a mixed media art class, and dab­bles in pho­tog­ra­phy. Her cre­ative approach to life led her to artis­tic exper­i­men­ta­tion with food, and after years of cre­at­ing her own recipes and work­ing as a per­son­al chef, she wrote The No-Pota­to Passover.