What was once a fairly new and weird food to many people, quinoa has become increasingly popular among high-end chefs, those looking to improve or maintain their health, and anyone in between.
Naturally gluten free, high in protein and fiber, as well as fluffy and delicious, this versatile grain is easy to use in many ways you may not realize. In everything from pasta to salads, to snacks and desserts, once you get used to this easy to prepare grain, you’ll find yourself eating it more often than you ever thought possible.
Read on for some interesting and unique ways to add this versatile grain to your daily routine.
1. For Breakfast
Simmer some quinoa in milk and add a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon, and you’ve got a filling, high fiber, high protein breakfast that will keep you going until lunch time. Add some fruit and nuts for more nutrients.
This is a great way to use up leftover quinoa that you may have used for last nights dinner as well. Eating this delicious South American seed for breakfast is a delicious alternative for those that are tired of eating oatmeal every day. It’s a nutritious, hot breakfast that can make a cold winter morning more bearable.
If you have cooked quinoa in your fridge, you can simply put some in a bowl with some milk and sugar and pop it in the microwave for a quick and satisfying hot breakfast before you head out in the morning.
The next time you are making quinoa as a side for dinner, cook it up without seasoning and make an extra cup or two for the morning.
2. Ground into Flour
Quinoa is naturally gluten free, so it makes a nice high protein gluten free flour that you can use in muffins, cookies, or pancakes. You can buy it in the bakery aisle of your favorite grocery store, but if you own a food processor or high powdered blender, you can also make it yourself.
Simply grind raw, uncooked quinoa until it is a fine powder, and you have a delicious nutritious substitute for many recipes. Be careful about using it for delicate desserts like cakes or pastries that may rely on gluten for their texture and consistency.
If you have some leftover cooked quinoa, you can toast it in a skillet for an interesting and unique side dish for a stir-fry or vegetable bowl.
To make it, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet. Add a cup or two of cooked, room temperature quinoa to the skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes until crisp and toasty.
Serve this as a side dish for vegetables, stir fry, or cool and use for a salad. You’ll be delighted by the toasty flavor and crispy texture of this normally fluffy grain. It’s especially good with vegetable dishes without heavy sauces that may soften up the tastiness of the grain.
Looking for a movie night snack that’s different from the usual popcorn? You can pop quinoa for a twist. To do it, heat a little bit of oil in a saucepan. Once it’s hot, add a small handful of quinoa to the pan and wait for it to pop, just like popcorn.
It won’t puff up quite as much, but it will still be light and airy. You can then season it with salt, butter, or whatever your favorite popcorn seasoning is. You’ll be amazed at what a nutritious, delicious, and easy to make snack quinoa can be.
5. In a Salad
Cooked quinoa can be combined with any number of cooked vegetables, dried fruits, or even shredded chicken for a delicious and easy to prepare salad. Add your favorite vinaigrette to round out the flavor profile.
It’s especially good with Southwestern salads that include black beans, corn, and peppers, but works well in Mediterranean salads, Moroccan salads, or as a substitute for almost any grain in a salad.
6. As a Stuffing Instead of Rice
Instead of using rice to stuff burritos, peppers, or cabbage, try using cooked quinoa. You can use it interchangeably for cooked brown or white rice in any of these dishes, and you’ll be surprised and delighted by the unique texture and toasty flavor of your finished dish.
Being a complete protein, it’s especially good for vegetarian or vegan dishes. One of the best things about quinoa is that it cooks up faster than rice, and you can keep it on hand for any occasion when you may need it.
7. In a Smoothie
If you have a powerful blender, you can blend raw, uncooked quinoa into a smoothie. It makes a high protein, high fiber breakfast or meal replacement any time of the day.
Don’t have an expensive high-powered blender? You can blend cooked quinoa in with your fruit and yogurt, or soak the raw grains for a half hour or so to soften them up. Either way, blending quinoa with your regular smoothie ingredients won’t affect the taste, but it will add fiber and bulk to your morning or afternoon smoothie.
8. In Dessert
Make a rice pudding by substituting quinoa for the rice in your recipe. Or use one of many recipes utilizing quinoa in all kinds of recipes like chocolate cake, cookies, or other desserts.
It adds a healthy element to an otherwise unhealthy treat, and more than likely, you won’t even realize it’s in there once you taste your dessert.
9. In Soup
Quinoa can be substituted in equal amounts in your favorite soup recipe that calls for rice. It’s great in tortilla soup, Mediterranean lemon drop soup, or anything that requires a grain.
Just beware that you may have to adjust your cooking time to make up for the fact that quinoa cooks faster than most grains, even plain white rice. Of course, you can also simply add a cup or so of cooked quinoa to your soup before serving to add bulk, fiber, and nutrients.
10. As Granola
You can add raw quinoa to your favorite granola recipe for a unique texture, amazing flavor, and extra nutrients. Either substitute raw quinoa for rolled oats, or just use half the amount if you want to experiment to see what it’s like.
Either way, you’ll be amazed at the nutty flavor, different texture, and nutrient profile you get from the end result. Make sure to watch it carefully the first time; because the grains are smaller, they may burn easier than oats.
Mixed with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or coconut, quinoa makes an excellent addition to granola whether for a snack you eat by the handful, or a cereal you have before heading out for the day.
Quinoa is becoming increasingly popular, but you may tend to see it in the same manner: side dishes and pilafs. Instead of eating it the same ways, try one of these interesting and unique ways to make this versatile South American seed a part of every meal of the day, from breakfasts, to snacks, to dinners.
You’ll be amazed at the nutrient boost you get, as well as the delicious flavor it can take on throughout the day.