How Your Can Have Your Quinoa and Eat it Too (and not ruin any Bolivians’ lives)




How timely of me, to finally come back with an article using Quinoa.

Especially after this whole fiasco—a poorly disguised, fact-lacking attack on vegetarians and vegans who are, the author says, more or less just infatuated with quinoa’s cute little spirals and low-fat attributes. (Not to mention goes on to say vegans’ demands for soy products are basically ruining the universe, when in actuality the majority of soy produced around the world—97 per cent, according to the UN—is grown for animal feed).


A Bolivian woman on the La Paz local bus from my 2010 South American trip. Perhaps she’s snacking on puffed quinoa?

While it is true, as the article points out, that the west’s increasing demand for Bolivian quinoa has made the pseudo-grain more expensive across the globe, including for those who farm the crop in its native Andes, the rising demand and subsequent increased production has been a very direct and concerted effort by the Morales government in order to boost their economy and avoid purchasing GMO seeds like Monsanto’s. Their plan of action calls for providing small-scale farmers with non-gmo seeds, saving heirloom seeds, and reducing fossil fuel consumption. This is also the country who, just last month, ousted McDonald’s, and gives a sh!t or two about Pacha Mama, a.k.a. Mama Earth. Hmm.. Maybe we could take a lesson.


Witches’ Market in La Paz

All that said, I don’t want to imply that everything’s hunky-dory in Bolivia. While it is a beautiful country, with incredible scenery and unique topography, it’s also home to South America’s poorest and a decline in quinoa consumption for Bolivians is not ideal since it is such a nutritious staple in their traditional diets. However, the country as a whole could boost their economy significantly more and benefit more diversely from pushing quinoa as an export, perhaps even enough to make the country a better place to live.

So, omnivores, vegetarians, vegans—people, really, you can all have your quinoa and eat it too. This week, here’s how I recommend doing it.


These pancakes are excellent—protein-packed and served with a slight nuttiness from the quinoa, they beg for some maple syrup. Pure, perfect comfort food, made better. My mom made them on Christmas Day and I’ve had a hankering since. This recreation does not disappoint!

Quinoa Pancakes (dairy-free, sugar-free)

Inspired by True Food Kitchen, adapted from this recipe



1 cup all-purpose flour (sure you could sub gluten-free, I don’t have my fully-stocked kitchen in Korea so I made do!)

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup non-dairy milk (soy really helps to thicken them up)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs (veganize by replacing with a flax egg)

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 tbsp coconut oil

whipped coconut cream, slivered almonds, and maple syrup or honey (if desired for topping)


In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, milk, vanilla, and eggs until everything is combined and there are no clumps. Add in the quinoa, making sure it isn’t clumping in balls.

Heat the coconut oil on a griddle on medium-high and ladle the batter onto the pan, flipping when bubbles form. Serve topped with coconut butter, coconut cream, nuts, fruits, syrup and feel nourished!


(if my cakes look a little less fluffy, it’s because I didn’t have baking powder! hopefully yours will have a little more perk ^^)