If you’re vegan or someone who is interested in eating healthy, you probably have a good idea of what quinoa (pronounced as keen-wah) is. For those that don’t know, quinoa is a wheat-free grain, a superfood that is usually treated as the healthy alternative to rice or couscous. It falls under the same category as beets, beans and even spinach, and has cemented its place as a staple within the vegan community.
The main reason for its popularity is due to the benefits that quinoa offers. Quinoa provides twice the amount of protein as rice and other grains while it’s also high in calcium, vitamins B and E as well as dietary fibres. It even contains all nine amino acids and offers some good old Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease. As it is gluten-free, it is also very popular amongst those who are gluten-intolerant or sensitive.
Quinoa originated in South American countries such as Peru, Chile and Bolivia, where it used to be eaten by the Inca tribes hundreds of years ago. Over the years, it has made its way around the world but has become exceedingly famous in the USA and the UK where in 2013, the UK declared it the “International Quinoa Year”.
The rising popularity of quinoa has also generated an increase in recipes that use this wheat-free grain in some very creative ways. Quinoa has a slight nutty taste, making is very hearty and easy to eat, which is why there are so many recipes to incorporate them into but here are our top 5 favourites!
Quinoa Vegetable Salad
What better way to start this list that with something light and fresh. The best way to bring out quinoa’s nutritients is a healthy dish where it’s balanced with vegetables. This recipe works as a great entrée or even a light lunch for those days where you don’t want to stuff your face. Great to have on a hot day and vegan-friendly.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 25 Minutes | Total Time: 45 Minutes
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup diced (yellow or purple) onion
2 1/2 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups quinoa
3/4 cup diced fresh tomato
3/4 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Cook the garlic and onion in a saucepan with canola oil on medium heat until the onion softens and becomes translucent. After that, pour the water, 2 teaspoons of salt and ¼ of a teaspoon of black pepper and bring it to a boil.
Once the mixture is ready, stir the quinoa in and leave it simmering, keep in mind to turn the heat down to medium-low so that it doesn’t burn and put a cover in so that it simmers faster. You can wait about 20 minutes for it to simmer, after which you should take it out put it in the fridge in a large bowl.
After it’s cooled down, you can stir the tomato, carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, corn, and red onion into the quinoa. Season it with the cilantro, mint as well as the remaining salt and black pepper. Lastly, add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar before mixing them gently.
Banana Quinoa Rice Pudding
Salads are great, but there’s nothing quite as sweet dessert. This recipe brings together the calcium and dietary fibres offered by quinoa and the potassium that comes with banana to create a delicious combo. Not just that, it’s also a dish that both adults and children can enjoy.
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 25 Minutes | Total Time: 1 Hour
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
2 ripe bananas
1 cup whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
4 tablespoons honey, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
Start off by rinsing the quinoa off in a paper towel lined colander and transfer it to the saucepan once it rinses clear. Add one and a half cups of water into the quina and leave it soaking for 30 minutes. After that, boil the quinoa and then leave it covered at low heat so that the quinoa can absorb the water; this should only take about 15 minutes.
While the quinoa boils, blend the whole milk, coconut milk, 3 tablespoons honey, butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt together in a blender until they become smooth. Then, stir the mixture into the quinoa and boil it once more, this time at medium heat. However, don’t just leave it alone, stay there and stir it around so that it cooks and thickens properly.
After that, all that’s left is putting the pudding in a serving dish and setting it in the fridge for an hour while it gets cold. Top it off with banana to serve. You can add the honey and cinnamon if you like but now it’ll be good to eat!
Cacao and Peanut Quinoa Porridge
This tasty quinoa porridge comes courtesy of ElikaFit; it’s a perfect breakfast recipe that’ll give you a protein kick to get you through the day. Not just that but the sweetness and combination of the chocolate and nuts will ease your sweet tooth while helping you kickstart your day.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 5 Minutes | Total Time: 30 Minutes
1 cup of cooked quinoa
2 cups of coconut milk
1 tbsp of cashews
1 tbsp of blueberries
1 tsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp of cacao nibs
2 tbsp of toasted quinoa
Before you can get down to making the dish, you should make sure to cook some quinoa appropriately and then toast it in coconut oil for about 15 minutes until it becomes crispy to get the toasted quinoa.
When you’re done, place the cooked quinoa in a pot and simmer it with two cups of coconut milk. Now all you’ll have to do is take it out of the pot and add in the cashews, blueberries, sunflower seeds, cacao nibs and the toasted quinoa on top.
Quinoa Black Bean Burger
Salads, desserts and sweet breakfasts are good, but sometimes you just want something a bit…meatier to dive your teeth into. Don’t worry, we didn’t put meat on this list, but these veggie burgers have sufficient protein and minerals when compared to your regular beefy ones.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes | Total Time: 35 Minutes
1 (15 ounces) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
For this, we’re going to boil the quinoa in a saucepan once more and let it simmer just like we did with the pudding recipe. While we’re waiting for that, you can mash your beans up until they form a paste-like mixture.
Now mix the paste with the quinoa, bread crumbs, bell pepper, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, hot pepper sauce, and egg and get in there with your hands, we want to be able to make five patties out of this. After that, it’s just a matter of cooking the patties like any regular burger, preferably with olive oil.
You can put in whatever ingredients you want with your patties, or even have them on their own!
We finish our list off with a spicy entry. This lightly curried quinoa has a great aroma and taste which you can have as a side or main staple.
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 35 Minutes | Total Time: 40 Minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
1 tablespoon ancho chilli powder
salt and pepper to taste
This one isn’t too complicated, start by heating oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes, making sure they’re stirred correctly. After that add the quinoa in until it’s toasted, which should take about five minutes.
Then, pour the broth into the pan and boil it, once you add the curry in you’ll have to make sure to reduce the heat though. Add the chile powder along with the curry and let it simmer for about 25 minutes. Now all you’ll have to do is the season it and your dish will be complete!
We hope you’ve been able to learn a lot from these recipes, make sure to tell us if you try any of these or any of your recipes out! There’s still many more things you can do with quinoa.
Photo Credits: Food.com, ElikaFit, Pinch of Yum, Kelly Sew Cooks, The Foodie Physician, The Full Helping