An extremely versatile superfood, Quinoa can powerfully transform your diet. It is one of very few plant-source complete proteins. Not only are you getting a high-quality protein compact with all of the essential amino acids, but an impressive dose of fiber, heart-healthy omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and essential minerals in every serving.
Quinoa is a gluten-free and low-glycemic alternative to traditional wheat grain that is easily digested, and provides you with a slow and controlled release of energy. This super “pseudo-cereal” may be able to help you reduce your diabetes risk, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and support you on your weight loss journey.1
Before we get started with the recipes, here are 5 of my favorite ways to prepare Quinoa, which can help guide you to many different recipe creations:
- Make a refreshing quinoa salad – Recipes #1 & #2
- Add it to soups & salads
- Make a protein-rich quinoa smoothies – Recipe #3
- Make nutrient dense veggie cakes – Recipe #4
- Make a quinoa breakfast porridge – Recipe #5
Here are five of my favorite recipes that you can introduce into your diet today:
*For tips on how to properly prepare and cook quinoa, just refer back to Quinoa Health Benefits.
Recipe #1 – Quinoa & Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parsley & Shallot Dressing
- 2 C cooked quinoa, chilled
- ½ C cooked chickpeas
- 1 handful of fresh chopped parsley
- ½ shallot, chopped
- ¼ C lemon juice (~2 lemons)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
To prepare your ingredients all you need to do is finely chop your parsley and shallot, and squeeze your 2 lemons to yield ¼ cup of juice. To make your dressing, mix your fresh lemon juice, olive oil, chopped parsley, and chopped shallot in a small bowl. Toss your chickpeas, cooked quinoa and dressing together in a large bowl. Serve chilled.
Recipe #2 – Cranberry & Almond Quinoa Salad
- 2 C cooked quinoa, chilled
- ¼ C diced scallion
- ¼ C diced red onion
- ¼ C dried cranberries
- ¼ C sliced almonds
- dressing: 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar & 2 Tbsp olive oil
Tips: Be creative…the possibilities are endless! To add extra flavor to quinoa, try cooking it in a low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth instead of water.
Recipe #3 – Quinoa Protein Smoothie
Strawberry-Banana Quinoa Smoothie
- 1 C cooked quinoa
- ½ large frozen banana
- 1 C frozen strawberries
- ½ C non-fat, low-sugar Greek yogurt
- Optional: 1 Tbsp honey
Layer all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend them into a smooth and delicious protein-packed smoothie. The quinoa lends a subtle nutty flavor to your smoothie that perfectly balances the sweetness of the fruit.
Tips: If you do not have frozen fruit on hand, go ahead add up to 1 cup of ice for the smoothie consistency. Feel free to swap out the yogurt for non-dairy milk. If you’re a creature of habit, keep it simple and blend the cooked quinoa into your daily homemade protein drinks and veggie blends.
Recipe #4 – Quinoa Veggie Cake Recipe
- 1 ½ C cooked quinoa
- 1- 1½ C cooked vegetables
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil (to coat skillet)
This is a perfect recipe idea to use up leftover steamed or sautéed veggies and quinoa from the night before, but you can easily cook up the veggies and quinoa on the spot if needed.
Dice up the vegetables finely, and combine your cooked quinoa with the vegetables in a large bowl. Gently fold in 2 eggs: this will help bind your mixture together and make the cakes nice and fluffy.
Over medium-high heat, coat a skillet with your olive oil and use a large spoon to scoop the mixture into rounds. Use the spoon or a spatula to pack the quinoa and veggies together tightly. When the bottom of the patty is a crisp golden-brown, give it a flip and let the other side to cook. Allow each side to cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove your quinoa cakes from the stovetop and dig in!
Tips: Top these quinoa cakes with a fresh and healthy spread like hummus, guacamole, or salsa. Use these quinoa cakes as a side to complete a meal, or top them with an egg for a high-protein breakfast or pre-workout meal.
Recipe #5 – Quinoa Breakfast Porridge Recipe
- ½ C dry quinoa
- 1 ¼ C almond milk
- 1 Tsp vanilla extract
- ½ Tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 handful of diced fresh or dry fruit and/or nuts
- Optional: up to 1 Tbsp of honey or agave nectar, or a touch of stevia
Combine the dry quinoa, almond milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan on the stovetop – bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn down to low-medium heat, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid and it is nice and tender.
Be sure to mix frequently to avoid burning the mixture. Once you have the desired consistency, simple remove from the stovetop, top it with your favorite healthy toppings, and enjoy!
Tips: If you want a creamier porridge, try swapping some of the almond milk for a rich coconut milk. You can also try blending the mixture with an immersion blender or in a food processor for a silky smooth texture. If you have some unseasoned cooked quinoa hanging in the fridge, try using 1 cup of the quinoa with ¼-½ cup of almond milk; just heat on the stovetop with the additional ingredients, or throw it in the microwave for a quick instant breakfast.
Hope you enjoy trying out these deliciously healthy quinoa recipes – if you find a favorite, or a new ways to add ingredients you like to quinoa, we’d love to hear about it.
- Quinoa. (2013). The World’s Healthiest Foods. Available at: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice. ↩