I have a sizable tried-and-true cookie recipe file, but I am always eager to discover new ones. Who doesn't love cookies?
Nutrition for Healthy Living
My professional history includes working as a registered nurse. One of the classes I particularly remember from nursing school focused on nutrition. In that class, we learned that choosing foods rich in nutrients and fiber can have a significant effect on overall health. I still have that textbook in our library today.
Quinoa has surfaced as one of the healthiest vegetable-based high-protein food sources readily available today in most supermarkets. Years ago, my husband and I purchased a big bag of it at Costco and started experimenting with different recipes.
I will happily share some of our recipes and hope you enjoy them as much as we do. You can easily use this product and turn it into meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snacks. It is such a versatile ingredient, as you will soon discover.
Recipes in This Article
- Quinoa with mixed berries and almonds
- Roasted chicken, vegetable, and quinoa soup
- Quinoa breakfast bowl with Greek yogurt, raisins, banana, and walnuts
- Tricolor savory quinoa with red onion
- Chocolate pudding with quinoa and chopped walnuts
How to Cook Quinoa
In several of my recipes, I use already-cooked quinoa. It is so simple to do.
- Soak or rinse: Soak the quinoa by putting it in a sieve, placing it in a bowl of water, and letting it soak for a few minutes. Alternately, you can hold the sieved quinoa under running water for 30 seconds or up to 2 minutes. I prefer the first method (soaking) to conserve water.
- Measure and boil: After the soaking or rinsing process, place twice as much liquid (water, broth, milk, etc.) as the quinoa in a pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Add a bit of salt.
- Simmer and fluff: Simmer for about 15 minutes until the liquid is all absorbed and remove it from the heat. After a few minutes, remove the cover from the pan and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
I purposely make more than we plan to eat at one time to have extra on hand for other recipes. It keeps well in the refrigerator for several days in a lidded container. Cooked quinoa is delicious for use in both hot and cold dishes.
Quinoa With Mixed Berries and Almonds
In the following recipe, I use a triple berry combination. We usually keep a frozen bag of berries in our freezer, and it contains raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. You could easily substitute any other fruit of your choice, fresh or frozen. My recipe makes a portion size for two servings of slightly warm to room temperature goodness.
- ⅓ cup almond milk
- 1 cup already-cooked quinoa (see instructions above)
- 1 tablespoon honey, or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup thawed mixed berries
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
- Heat the almond milk and already-cooked quinoa in a pan over low heat with the honey and almond extract until blended and warmed.
- Microwave the frozen berries for 45 to 60 seconds until thawed.
- Spoon the quinoa combination into the bottom of a bowl and top it with the berries and sliced almonds.
- For the best flavor, mix everything well so that you get all of the ingredients of this tasty breakfast in every bite.
Roasted Chicken, Vegetable, and Quinoa Soup
Every time my husband and I shop at Costco, we almost always bring home a roasted chicken. It is a bargain at $4.99. Their roasted chickens are large, juicy, and delicious.
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We cut off some of the meatier portions, and then I boil up the rest of the chicken, bones and all, in water. When cool enough, I debone the chicken and cut up the meat into small pieces for adding to soups or plates of pasta. I also defat the stock.
I hope you enjoy my thick and tasty soup recipe below using the stock and boneless chicken pieces. If you want thinner soup consistency, add more chicken stock or broth to suit your taste.
- 10 cups chicken stock or chicken broth
- ¼ cup quinoa, uncooked
- ½ cup yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, deseeded and minced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 1½ teaspoons ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (I use the Penzeys brand)
- 1½ cups deboned chicken, cut into small pieces
- Put the chicken stock or broth into a large kettle on the stove.
- After rinsing the quinoa, add it to the broth.
- Add all the remaining ingredients.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 45 to 60 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the flavors are blended.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Quinoa Breakfast Bowl With Greek Yogurt, Raisins, Banana, and Walnuts
The inspiration for this breakfast bowl came from thinking about how I often add extra ingredients when cooking oatmeal. However, in contrast to oatmeal, which I usually eat warm, I prefer eating this quinoa bowl cold. If you are getting ready to hit the gym for a good morning workout, eating this meal should give you loads of energy. It has plenty of protein with not only quinoa but Greek yogurt and walnuts. The amounts below are for two servings.
- 1 cup cold cooked quinoa
- ⅔ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons honey, plus extra to drizzle over the top, to taste
- 1 medium banana, sliced
- ¼ cup walnut halves and pieces
- In a small bowl, combine the quinoa, yogurt, raisins (reserve a few for topping), cinnamon, vanilla, and honey.
- Divide into two portions and put into serving bowls.
- Top with the sliced banana, walnuts, and a few of the raisins.
- Drizzle with a small amount of extra honey to taste, and enjoy!
Tricolor Savory Quinoa Recipe With Red Onion
As shown in the photo above, I used cooked tricolor quinoa as a base to drape a piece of marinated and peppered salmon over it. It makes a tasty substitute for rice or mashed potatoes and is a healthier alternative. Paired with some steamed broccoli, it made a delicious meal.
- ½ cup red onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup uncooked tricolor quinoa, rinsed
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- Dash of salt
- Saute the chopped onion in the olive oil for a few minutes in a pan on the stove until slightly softened.
- Place the quinoa in a sieve and soak in a bowl of water for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the water. Alternately, rinse the quinoa under running water.
- In that same pan with the sauteed onion, add the rinsed quinoa, chicken broth, and salt.
- Bring to a boil, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
- Fluff the quinoa, and use as you wish for savory dishes.
Chocolate Pudding With Quinoa and Chopped Walnuts
Pudding is such an easy dessert to make—and it pleases kids and adults alike. Thinking of the texture and nuttiness of quinoa, I thought it would make a great pairing with chocolate pudding. To add even more to that nutty texture, I added chopped walnuts. If you did not know, you would think it is only nuts in that pudding!
I used a 5.9-ounce package of chocolate Jello pudding mix and followed the package directions. After adding the quinoa and nuts, it makes six servings of a little over five ounces each. We give it our thumbs up for flavor, especially topped with sliced strawberries!
- 1 (5.9-ounce) package chocolate Jello pudding mix
- 3 cups cold milk (not soy milk)
- ½ cup cold cooked quinoa
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Sliced strawberries for garnish
- Per package instructions, beat the pudding mix and milk with a whisk for 2 minutes.
- Add in the quinoa and chopped nuts.
- Spoon into 6 serving dishes and garnish with sliced strawberries.
- Chill until ready to eat. Any leftovers should be refrigerated.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a broad-leafed plant in the amaranth family that can grow to heights ranging from three to nine feet tall. It has edible leaves and seeds that have fed livestock and humans for many thousands of years. Today, it is primarily grown for the seed harvest.
What Does Quinoa Taste Like?
I would describe the flavor as being somewhat nutty. It also has a slightly crunchy texture. That makes it easy to combine with other foods that can be either sweet or savory. Some of the recipes above show how versatile an ingredient it can be.
Is Quinoa a Grain?
Many people mistakenly think that quinoa is a grain. It is not a grain but the seed of a plant. That tiny seed contains a powerhouse of healthy nutrients!
Is Quinoa Gluten Free?
Quinoa is gluten free and easy to digest. However, some people with allergies to wheat and rice might also be sensitive to quinoa. Those unused to eating high-fiber diets might wish to start slowly adding more of it to meals over time.
How Many Varieties Are There?
There are thousands of varieties, and the seeds come in several colors, including purple, yellow, orange, and green, but the most commonly found ones available in grocery stores are red, black, and white. The darker colored ones contain more of the beneficial antioxidants.
Where Is It Grown?
Most of the quinoa worldwide comes from Peru and Bolivia, although it is also grown elsewhere. It can tolerate a variety of soil conditions. For the harvesting process, the weather must be dry. Typically picked by hand, combines now do some of that work in places.
What Is Saponin (and Why Does It Matter)?
Quinoa has an outer covering that contains a sticky coating known as saponin. The saponin gives the seeds a bitter taste, and in fact birds typically do not eat wild or cultivated quinoa for this reason. Most varieties sold in grocery stores have the saponin already removed; however, it is still a good idea to soak or rinse the seeds in cold water before using them in recipes.
Is Quinoa Good for You?
It makes a "superfoods" list because of its high protein content that contains all nine essential amino acids. For this reason, NASA is considering the growth of it for long space flights in the future.
Eating quinoa can potentially be beneficial for disease prevention such as cancer, diabetes, and heart problems. It might even help those who need to shed excess pounds. To learn more about these potential benefits, follow the source links at the bottom of this page.
Quinoa vs. Rice vs. Couscous
- Quinoa vs. brown rice (similarities): Both are high in fiber, contain minerals good for health, are gluten-free, and good for digestion. People with Type 2 diabetes benefit from eating foods like these because they take longer to digest, providing better blood sugar control. Eating high-fiber foods might even result in better weight control.
- Quinoa vs. brown rice (differences): Quinoa wins the nutritional value competition with brown rice because of this one fact. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids that our bodies need to function. People who follow vegetarian diets are sure to appreciate this. The usual foods people eat that are complete proteins include meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. When solely relying upon a vegetarian diet to meet those needs, one must become educated on proper food pairings or rely upon supplements to get the same effect.
- Quinoa vs. couscous: Nutritionally, quinoa comes out on top. Couscous is a tiny pasta made from durum wheat, so it is not gluten-free. It does contain significantly more selenium, but quinoa has fewer carbs, more fiber, protein, manganese, folate, and iron. It also has that winning combination of having all essential amino acids!
- White rice vs. brown rice: White rice is the less nutritious choice. Brown rice has more fiber, antioxidants, essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fewer carbs and calories. The sole exception is that enriched white rice does contain more iron and folate.
- Britannica: Quinoa
- Cleveland Clinic: Amino Acids
- HealthLine: Quinoa vs. Rice: The Health Benefits of Each Grain
- HealthLine: What Is Quinoa? One of The World's Healthiest Foods
- HealthLine: What’s the Difference Between Couscous and Quinoa?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Quinoa: A Plant with a Lot of Potential
- WebMD: Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts, and How to Prepare Quinoa and Quinoa Flakes
© 2021 Peggy Woods