We talk a lot about why you should eat a healthy diet, often dwelling quite a bit on the theoretical side of things.
But sometimes, practical examples of healthy meals your whole family will love, are extremely important, if you are to nail healthy eating for life.
That is why I wanted to share some tasty, yet very easy, quinoa recipes with you today.
Quinoa is one of those foods that can be a bit off-putting, simply because you aren’t quite sure what to do with it.
What Is Quinoa?
I’ve written about quinoa in the past, and there’s been a lot of discussion about it in the comments section below that article, suggesting people really are wondering exactly what is quinoa, and what they can do with it.
Quinoa is actually a really fantastic substitute for foods like rice, pasta and potatoes.
And, although quinoa offers a pretty descent helping of protein per serve, it comes in at around 53 on the glycemic index (GI for short-grain white rice is 72, brown rice is 55), so it’s still pretty carb intense, which means portion control is important.
A portion is one half cup of cooked quinoa.
Is Quinoa Gluten Free?
In it’s whole, raw form, quinoa is gluten-free.
However, there is certainly a chance that some quinoa products will have been cross contaminated with gluten during processing.
If you do not have a severe sensitivity to gluten, you may find quinoa does not cause a reaction.
However, if you are very sensitive to gluten, quinoa has what’s referred to as ‘seed storage proteins,’ and these are distantly related to the gluten proteins present in wheat.
Recent research, which looked at 15 different varieties of quinoa, concluded that 2 out of the 15 quinoa cultivars (“Ayacuchana” and “Pansakalla”) stimulated an immune response, which was as potent as that observed for wheat gluten.
This suggests that if you have a gluten sensitivity, quinoa may not necessarily be safe to eat.
How To Prepare Quinoa
Although it is usually prepared just like a grain, quinoa is actually the seed of a leafy, flowering plant, and a relative of vegetables, like spinach and Swiss chard.
It’s very easy to start using. In fact, the only thing that’s different to working with grains, is that it needs a good rinse before cooking, otherwise it can taste bitter.
I absolutely love Sarah Britton’s blog, My New Roots, and she had an awesome short video on how to cook quinoa, which is really fun to watch :-)
7 Quinoa Recipes
So, to give you some ideas of what to do with this lovely little seed, here are seven of the best recipes from around the web.
1. Minty Black Bean Salad (for a Crowd)
from My New Roots
Please note, this recipe serves 25-30, so if you need a smaller amount, remember to reduce the quantity of ingredients.
This dish would make a fantastic pot-luck/ bring a plate offering!
9 cups dried black beans, soaked overnight (or 8 hours)
1 1/2 cups quinoa, soaked overnight (or 8 hours)
2 large fennel bulbs
1 head radicchio
1 bunch radishes
2 bunches green onions
3 bunches mint
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
a few handfuls sprouts (I used sunflower)
juice of 2 lemons
juice of 3 limes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
a couple pinches cayenne pepper
- Place the black beans and quinoa is separate bowls and cover with plenty of water. Let soak for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
- Drain and rinse both beans and quinoa well. Place beans in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer with the lid on for about 40 minutes. Add three tablespoons of salt, and continue to cook until soft (but not mushy!) – another 10 minutes or so. Drain and rinse well. Let cool.
- Place quinoa in a pot, add 2 1/2 cups water and a teaspoons of salt. With the lid on, bring to the boil and reduce to simmer. Cook until tender, 15 minutes or so. Set aside with the lid off to let cool.
- Make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine.
- Prepare the vegetables. Begin by slicing the fennel bulb into very thin strips (a mandoline may help). Place fennel in a large serving vessel, pour a little of the dressing over, and toss to marinate (this also prevents browning). Add thinly sliced radish and green onions, toss to coat. Next add the cooled black beans and quinoa and pour the remaining dressing on top. Fold to combine. Let sit for 20-30 minutes to marinate.
- Chop the herbs and radicchio, and add to the salad. Fold to incorporate. Season to taste. Sprinkle sprouts on top if desired, and serve to a hungry crowd.
2. Curried Quinoa Salad With Cucumber-Mint Raita
from Cooking Light
I love the idea of combining curry with quinoa and mint raita all in the same dish.
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Madras curry powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
1 diced peeled ripe mango
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
3 tbsp currants
1/4 cup finely diced peeled English cucumber
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
1 (6-ounce) carton plain low-fat yogurt
1 (5-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add curry and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add quinoa and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in salt. Cool completely.
- Add mango, diced celery, thinly sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, and currants to cooled quinoa; toss gently.
- Combine 1/4 cup cucumber, 2 teaspoons mint, and yogurt in a small bowl, and stir well. Divide spinach evenly among 6 plates, and top each serving with about 3/4 cup quinoa mixture and about 2 tablespoons raita.
3. Quinoa Tabbouleh
from Cooking Light
This is a traditional Middle Eastern salad, which is usually made with bulgar wheat, but quinoa makes a very good substitute.
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup coarsely chopped seeded tomato
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint or parsley
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped green onions
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced fresh onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. Stir in tomato and remaining ingredients. Cover; let stand 1 hour. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
4. Baked Quinoa Patties
from 101 Cookbooks, another of my favorite food blogs.
You can bake these or pan-fry them in a skillet — you’ll find instructions for both below.
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature*
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill
1 cup finely chopped kale
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
water or a bit of flour, if needed
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or clarified butter
- Preheat oven to 400F / 200C.
- Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, dill, kale, onion, garlic, and cumin. Stir well.
- Add the baking powder and bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture.
- Gently stir in the feta.
- At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into twelve 1-inch / 2.5cm thick patties. I err on the very moist side because it makes for a not-overly-dry patty, but you can add more bread crumbs, a bit at a time, to firm up the mixture, if need be. Conversely, a bit more beaten egg or water can be used to moisten the mixture. If you’re still having trouble getting the mixture to hold – mix in flour, a couple tablespoons at a time.
- Oil a baking sheet, and arrange the patties with a bit of space between each. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are brown. Flip and bake for another 5 minutes.**
- Enjoy hot, or allow to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.
Makes about 12 patties.
*To cook quinoa: Combine 2 cups of well-rinsed uncooked quinoa with 3 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and you can see the little quinoa curlicues.
**Alternately, you can cook the patties in a skillet. Here’s how: heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add 6 patties, if they’ll fit with some room between each, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until the patties are browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. Alternatively, the quinoa mixture keeps nicely in the refrigerator for a few days; you can cook patties to order, if you prefer.
5. Mexican Chicken Stew With Quinoa And Beans
from BBC Good Food
Another option is to make a hearty, healthy stew with quinoa and chicken.
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into largish chunks
3 tbsp chipotle paste
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
4 skinless chicken breasts
2 chicken stock cubes
1 x 400g can pinto beans, drained
small bunch coriander, most chopped, a few leaves left whole
juice 1 lime
1 tsp sugar
natural yogurt, to serve
- Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the onions and peppers for a few minutess until softened. Stir in the chipotle paste for a minute, followed by the tomatoes. Add up to a tomato can-full of water to cover the chicken and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chicken breasts and gently simmer, turning the chicken occasionally, for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with the stock cubes. Add the quinoa and cook for 15 minutes until tender, adding the beans for the final minute. Drain well and stir in the coriander and lime juice, then check for seasoning before covering to keep warm.
- Lift the chicken out onto a board and shred each breast using two forks. Stir back into the tomato sauce with the sugar and season. Serve with the quinoa, scattering the stew with some coriander leaves just before dishing up, and eating with a dollop of yogurt on the side.
6. Toasted Quinoa Salad With Scallops And Snow Peas
from Eating Well
If scallops aren’t your thing, try thin slices of chicken.
12 ounces dry sea scallops, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tsp soy sauce, divided
3 tbsp plus 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups quinoa
2 tsp grated or minced garlic
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup trimmed and diagonally sliced snow peas, (1/2 inch thick)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander), for garnish
- Toss scallops with 2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce) in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Place a large, high-sided skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until the quinoa begins to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Stir once, cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (Do not stir.) Remove from the heat and let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Stir in snow peas, cover and let stand for 5 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, whisk 2 tablespoons oil, the remaining 2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce), vinegar and sesame oil in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and snow peas, scallions and bell pepper; toss to combine.
- Remove the scallops from the marinade and pat dry. Heat a large skillet over medium-high until hot enough to evaporate a drop of water upon contact. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and cook the scallops, turning once, until golden and just firm, about 2 minutes total. Gently stir the scallops into the quinoa salad. Serve garnished with cilantro, if desired.
7. Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe
from 101 Cookbooks
This recipe uses red quinoa, but you can use whatever kind you like. You can also replace the low fat milk with low-fat soy milk. Blueberries could replace the blackberries. And, walnuts could replace the pecans.
Delicious as breakfast or dessert!
1 cup organic 1% low fat milk
1 cup water
1 cup organic quinoa, (hs note: rinse quinoa)
2 cups fresh blackberries, organic preferred
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
4 tsp honey
- Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Turn off heat; let stand covered for 5 minutes. Stir in blackberries and cinnamon; transfer to four bowls and top with pecans. Drizzle 1 teaspoon honey over each serving.
*While the quinoa cooks, roast the pecans in a 350F degree toaster oven for 5 to 6 minutes, or in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
Have you tried quinoa? Please share your quinoa recipes with us below…