The Happy Home Cook: Quinoa Lugaw

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Quinoa lugaw (Photo by Astig Vegan)

Quinoa lugaw (Photo by Astig Vegan)

Lugaw is a Filipino porridge with rice as its main ingredient no less. I love having a hot bowl of it during rainy days, to enjoy by myself or with family and friends. Lately though, my parents have been watching their sugar intake. My dad is diabetic and avoids white rice (which could be tough when you love Filipino food). I don’t want him to break his low-sugar diet but I also don’t want him to give up entirely on Filipino food.  So when I make him lugaw,  I switch rice to quinoa. Much to everyone’s surprise, the quinoa lugaw doesn’t taste that much different from its rice counterpart.

Quinoa is a superfood packed with fiber, omega fatty acids, and complete protein. It comes in many varieties but the most common one is white (which is what I use in my lugaw). Quinoa could get pricey so I prefer to buy it at the bulk section of my neighborhood grocery store, Rainbow Grocery. In comparison to rice, quinoa is definitely more expensive. But compare quinoa to the cost of medicine and quinoa is more affordable.

Making quinoa lugaw is not that different from making the traditional one. Aside from the obvious -using quinoa instead of rice, I simply switch chicken broth to vegetable broth. The rest – garlic, onions, and ginger remain the same. Interestingly, quinoa also swells up over time like rice so even the portion size is not that different. I’m all about practical vegan discoveries so I’m particularly happy learning about quinoa lugaw.  I hope you will be too and enjoy this delicious alternative to a beloved Filipino dish!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Serves 6


  • 1 cup white quinoa, thoroughly rinsed

  • 3-4 quarts water

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, minced

  • 1 yellow onion, peeled, minced

  • 2 tablespoons peeled and sliced ginger

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable broth powder (see note below)

  • pinch of saffron threads

  • pinch of salt

  • pinch of black pepper

  • few pieces of sliced green onion for garnish (optional)


  1. In a large pot, add quinoa and water. Heat over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. On a separate pan, saute garlic, onion, and ginger in oil until soft, tender and fragrant.

  3. Transfer sauteed ingredients in the pot of quinoa. Stir well.

  4. Add vegetable broth, safflower, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. Taste and if needed, add more vegetable broth and salt. The amount of vegetable broth to add depends on the brand, so feel free to add more until you've reached the desired amount of savory flavor.

  6. Keep mixing until soup becomes thick and quinoa is tender. Add more water if needed. Put to a boil.

  7. Turn off heat and serve hot. Garnish with green onions (optional).

Quinoa lugaw (Photo by Astig Vegan)

Quinoa lugaw (Photo by Astig Vegan)


You could buy vegetable broth powder at asian grocery stores and health stores. Depending on the strength of the broth, feel free to add more or less than suggested.

Quinoa needs to be thoroughly rinsed with water before use. Otherwise, it will taste bitter. I usually rinse it by putting quinoa in a mesh strainer and running water through it.

Quinoa absorbs more liquid overtime. If soup becomes too thick, simply add more water and vegetable broth.

My parents no longer feel guilty when eating lugaw. They use quinoa now. In fact, they use quinoa not only in lugaw but in other dishes as well like coconut milk stews (luto sa gata), vegan sushi rolls, vegan nilaga, and side dish to an entrée (ulam). At first, they weren’t used to the texture but now they couldn’t get enough of it. The price tag of quinoa no longer scares them especially after seeing results of their glucose level. After all, health is wealth and we shouldn’t skimp taking care of ourselves.

Finding a way to not only to veganize Filipino food but also to make it healthier feels like hitting the jackpot. It’s even double jackpot when I get to share this discovery with my loved ones (and they’re open to it). Diabetes runs strong in my family among other conditions so I’m glad quinoa is there to help ease health problems coming from white rice without really giving up “white rice”. After all, how can we eat our ulam without it?!

First published in

Richgail Enriquez

Richgail Enriquez

RG Enriquez at discovers ways to show that Filipino food can be vegan, healthy, and delicious without losing its soul. Born and raised in the Philippines, RG veganizes the Filipino food of her childhood. She has appeared on the television show, "Adobo Nation" and given demonstrations and talks at "Savor Filipino", "Taste of South Lake”, “Barrio Fiesta”, Pitzer College, and Cal-State East Bay.

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