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It can be hard to get the family to eat well, especially when you make meals with ingredients the kids have never heard of before! But if you haven’t already started cooking with quinoa, listen up. This incredibly versatile ingredient is about to change they way you eat and help lead you to a healthier, lighter lifestyle!
Quinoa is fantastic for replacing certain ingredients in some dishes, for example, rice. However, I try to use it in as many recipes as I can because of its impressive protein content – 8 grams per cup! As well as this, it is rich in several Vitamin B complexes which are vital for a healthy metabolism, so when paired with the right balance of other ingredients, this can help aid you in your weight loss journey.
Fear not, you don’t have to live on quinoa salad for the rest of your days (though I’ll include a couple of delicious salad ideas here too, if that tickles your fancy!), there are countless exciting uses for quinoa out there. Here are my Top 10:
1. Slow Cooked Quinoa Chicken Curry
Thankfully we can still enjoy the Summer for a couple months yet, but when Winter rolls around you’ll want a go-to comfort food that will warm you up, without filling you out! By using quinoa in this dish, where most might use rice, you can blast away starchy carbs and replace them with protein. Here’s one of my favorite Winter warmers!
Prep Time: 10 – 15 mins
Cook Time: 4-8 hours (depending on the cooker’s setting)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onions, diced
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs (breasts are also good)
2 tablespoons curry paste
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon ginger paste
3 cloves garlic
2 cups tomato puree
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups diced eggplant (peel removed)
3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
Put everything into your slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.
2. Quinoa Veggie Burgers
These are my go to for summer parties, or if I’m cooking for the kids and their friends. They’re easy to grab and go and you can make them with your favorite burger fillings (allowing you to be as naughty or as healthy as you like), so they’re appealing to even the fussiest eaters and super versatile!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
- 2/3 cup quinoa
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup coarsely grated carrot
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 3 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a medium saucepan cook the quinoa according to your package instructions. Ideally, you’ll want it to be just tender. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool.
In a bowl, combine the eggs, carrot, cheese, chives, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the cooled quinoa and the breadcrumbs and combine well.
Form the mix into patties around 1/2 inch thick which should result in 6 total. If you’re hosting a garden party, you could even try making sliders, and get around 12 from this recipe.
Take a large non-stick skillet and heat 1 tbs of the oil. Add the patties and cook until golden brown before flipping them, adding more oil if needed. You should aim for 3-5 minutes per side.
Place the cooked patties in burger buns and add your favorite extras. I personally love these with goats cheese, arugula, and pickled onions, but you can go as wild and creative as you like. Enjoy!
3. Quinoa Apple and Almond Salad
One of the lighter dishes on my favorites list, this one is another favorite for the summer. The list of ingredients is kept short and simple, but the flavors work together in perfect harmony.
Serves: 3 – 4
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
For the salad:
- 3 cups quinoa, cooked
- ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 granny smith apple, diced
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup almonds, toasted, rough chopped
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt, black pepper to taste
In a mixing bowl or blender, combine the honey, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, and warm water, and then season to taste.
Combine the cooked quinoa with apples, toasted almonds, scallions and dried cranberries.
Serve at room temperature, or cold.
4. Quinoa Taco Bowl
Taco Tuesdays were really hard to let go of when we decided to make a real effort with our health and eating, and this is the solution! Ditch the carbs, but stay full with this delicious healthy alternative. The ingredients list might look a little daunting, but you can make this with any combination of your favorite taco ingredients!
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
For the taco bowl:
- 1 1/2 cup white quinoa, uncooked
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups black beans
- 2 cups corn
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 3 green onions, sliced
For the seasoning:
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions.
Bring your main taco bowl ingredients together
Make the seasoning by whisking together the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl. This will coat the quinoa with flavor and really boost the yum-factor of the meal.
When the quinoa is ready, drizzle your seasoning over it in a large bowl, and then throw in the fresh veggies you prepared.
5. Chicken Parmesan Quinoa Bake
Another classic, but so, so unhealthy! Do away with the deep-fried, breaded, cheese-filled original, and start using this version which is low in calories, fat, sodium, and sugar.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 60 mins
- 1 cup quinoa , uncooked
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1½ cup mushrooms, diced
- ½ cup yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups Marinara Sauce, or any spaghetti sauce
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 4 large chicken breasts (or 6 medium chicken breasts)
Preheat your oven to 375 Fahrenheit and prepare a casserole dish with a spray of low-cal oil.
Place the uncooked quinoa at the bottom of the dish, and add the green pepper, mushrooms, and yellow onion on top.
Pour 2 cups of the spaghetti sauce into your casserole dish, add the chicken broth, and then add the garlic, before stirring everything through and setting aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour and Parmesan together. In a separate bowl whisk the egg.
Take a chicken breast and dip it into the egg mixture. This will help to bind the Parmesan mixture to it. Move the chicken from the egg bowl to the cheese bowl, coating it entirely, and then place it on top of the casserole mix. Repeat for all the chicken.
Any remaining mixture should be scattered over the top of the dish, adding salt and pepper if you want.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 40 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked through.
6. Slow Cooked Quinoa Chicken Chili
This recipe is particularly good for slimming down thanks to all the fiber in it (look at all those delicious beans!) which really helps with digestion. This is perfect to quickly prepare in the morning when you know you’ll have no time to cook in the evening as the slow cooker does all the hard work for you. It looks like there’s a ton of ingredients, but as they are mostly canned, you can throw this all together in 5 minutes.
Prep time: 5- 10 mins
Cook time: 4 – 8 hours (depending on the cooker’s settings)
- 1 (28 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
- 1 (14 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can of chili beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can of corn, drained
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2-3 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
- toppings of your choice (cheese, sour cream, avocados, and tortilla strips)
Add all the ingredients into your slow cooker, and set it on 4-6 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low.
Shred the chicken with two forks and stir it through, then top with any ingredients you want such as avocado, or a small sprinkle of cheese.
7. Asian Turkey Quinoa Meatballs
Perfect as a starter, or as part of a larger dish, these turkey meatballs are delicious and a great way of topping up the protein in your diet! You can whip them up in minutes, and they look adorable when they’re finished!
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 egg
- 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced green onions
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ cup hoisin sauce
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon each sesame oil, ground ginger, and chili powder
- 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
Pre-heat your oven to 400 Fahrenheit, line a baking tray with foil, and spray with cooking spray.
Combine the turkey and quinoa, and then the rest of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. This can be pretty messy, but don’t be afraid to really get stuck in! Roll them in your hands into bite-sized meatballs and place them on the baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Whisk the sauce ingredients together and bring to the boil in a small saucepan before reducing to a simmer. You can use this as a dipping sauce, but I love to pour it over everything (it’s so delicious)!
8. Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies
Quinoa cookies? Seriously? YES! It adds such a nice crunch to the cookies, and combined with the peanut butter, these cookies will give you a powerful protein punch. I always pack these into the kids’ lunches (and usually take one or two for my own lunch!)
Serves: You’ll make about 24 cookies
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 12 mins
- 1 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy or creamy
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 and 3/4 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit, line with parchment paper, and lightly grease with cooking spray.
Use an electric mixer to beat the peanut butter, honey, and brown sugar until smooth. Then add the egg until everything is fully combined.
In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add this mix to your wet peanut mix, and combine fully. Next, add the quinoa (already cooked and cooled) and mix on low speed until well mixed into the dough.
Use a tablespoon to measure out the correct amount of mixture for each cookie, dolloping them onto the baking tray. Gently flatten them into flat round disks.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating the tray half way through. You’ll notice lovely crisp edges once they are done, and after 5 minutes cooling on the rack, transfer them to a wire rack.
9. Caribbean Salmon Quinoa
This is a delicious combination of flavors and thought the spice rub looks like a lot of ingredients, it comes together quickly and the taste is well worth it!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Caribbean Spice Rubbed Salmon:
- 4 salmon fillets
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 large red mango, peeled and diced
- 1/3 cup red onion, diced
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- Juice of half a lime
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package instructions
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
In a medium bowl, throw together all the salsa ingredients and combine well.
In a small bowl mix all of the dry spice ingredients for the salmon.
Rub the mixture onto each fish fillet and place onto a grill heated to a medium high heat, grilling for 4-6 minutes and the fish is cooked through.
To bring the dish together, layer the cooked quinoa, black beans, and mango salsa, before placing the salmon on top.
10. Pine Nut Broccoli Quinoa
I love this dish, it’s so simple and easy to pull together, but tastes wonderful. Pine nuts are a great source of manganese which is a powerful inhibitor of free radicals (which play a role in the aging process), so I’ve certainly made this one of my staple dishes!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 cup yellow onion
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1½ cup broccoli, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
In a pot, add the olive oil, the minced garlic, and the onion. Cook over a low to medium heat until tender.
Add the quinoa and chicken broth and bring to the boil, before reducing the heat to a simmer, covering the pot for about 7 minutes.
Spread the finely chopped broccoli (don’t use the stalks) over the top of the quinoa, but don’t stir it in! It will lightly steam sitting on the top.
Once the quinoa has absorbed the broth and the broccoli is cooked, you can mix it through and add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and seasoning.
Finally, toss in some toasted pine nuts for a delicious crunch throughout the dish.
So there you have it. You can really go wild with quinoa, why not experiment with adding it to some of your favorite dishes? You’ll be surprised at how great it tastes, how great it leaves you feeling. Enjoy!
If you enjoyed those, try these delicious 10 Simple Kale Recipes!