The quinoa craze: Why you’ll love it + top 10 quinoa recipes
If you haven’t jumped on the quinoa bandwagon yet, get ready to be eternally indebted to us. With a nutritional profile that would have us calling it a “superfood” if we didn’t know better — plus a plethora of yummy ways to get it on your plate — we’re willing to bet quinoa’s going to be your new favorite food.
Pronounced “KEEN-wah,” this faux-grain has been eaten for 5,000 years by the people of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile, and dates all the way back to the Incas, who believed it to be sacred. It’s considered a “pseudocereal” since it’s technically not a grain; it actually comes from the same botanical family as sugarbeet, table beet, Swiss chard and spinach.
Here’s why you’re going to love it (if you don’t already):
- It’s extremely high in protein (18%) and is a source of “complete protein,” which means that it includes all nine essential amino acids — a factor that makes it perfect for vegans whose diet often lacks the protein carnivores get from animal products.
- It contains about twice the protein of regular cereal grains and fewer carbohydrates.
- It’s low in cholesterol and sodium.
- It’s higher in lysine — which is essential for tissue growth and repair — than wheat.
- It’s a great source of manganese and a good source of magnesium, iron and phosphorus.
- It cooks more quickly than rice.
- It’s gluten-free, which makes it suitable for those with celiac disease.
- It’s non-dairy and a good source of calcium, so we’re talking to you too, lactose-intolerant folks.
You can find quinoa in the rice aisle or health-food section of your grocery store. It’s easy to cook — just pretend you’re cooking pasta: Boil water in a large pot, add quinoa, reduce the heat to low and cook about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain, let it cool and enjoy.
Perhaps the best part about quinoa is its versatility. Whether you want to make breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack or dessert, there’s always a way to include this pseudocereal. But lucky for you, you don’t even have to search for recipes. We’ve found the 10 best ones out there!
Martha Stewart knew of quinoa’s magic back in 2001 when Martha Stewart Living published this recipe that uses spinach, quinoa, cottage cheese, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. Perfect for a family dinner or even a healthy daytime snack! Click here for the recipe.
Here’s a wonderful example of how you can substitute quinoa for rice to step up a dish’s nutritional benefits. Make this broccoli-quinoa casserole from the Eating Well Living Thin blog on a Sunday and store it in the fridge so you can use it for a vegetarian dinner or a side dish during the week. Using quinoa instead of rice means you still get the same creamy texture and flavor but significantly less carbs — not to mention much more protein! Click here for the recipe.
Lemon quinoa cilantro chickpea salad
There’s not much we can say about this recipe from TheDiva-Dish.com that the photo doesn’t already. We almost turned vegetarian just looking at it. Yum! Click here for the recipe.
This is what we meant by versatile. Quinoa can be used for any type of dish, and this quinoa pulihora recipe from the Cook’s Hideout blog is a tasty example of how it can be incorporated into Indian cuisine. Click here for the recipe.
Sweet breakfast quinoa
There’s nothing better than a protein-packed breakfast, so why not use quinoa? This Food & Wine recipe combines almonds, quinoa, apricots and ricotta to give you all the protein and fiber (and flavor!) you need to get your day started right. Click here for the recipe.
Quinoa and grilled zucchini
Avocados, eggs, zucchini and goat cheese … must we go on? This recipe from 101cookbooks.com mixes the quinoa/zucchini combo with cilantro-flecked avocado dressing for a well-balanced, protein-packed, mouthwatering result. Click here for the recipe.
Using rice for stuffed peppers is so 20th century. This recipe from Vegetarian Times updates the classic recipe with quinoa, spinach, carrots and black beans. Make a few servings and freeze some for a busy night when you don’t feel like cooking. Click here for the recipe.
Creole quinoa jambalaya
New Orleans loves its rice — which means you have the opportunity to give classic Creole recipes a healthy twist by substituting it with quinoa. That’s exactly what the Pease Pudding blog did with this jambalaya. If you like your food to have a little kick to it, try this yummy take on the Creole classic that uses chicken, shrimp and quinoa. Click here for the recipe.
Quinoa egg veggie bake
Forget frittatas. This quinoa egg veggie bake from EdiblePerspective.com combines kale, tomatoes, mushroom, cheese, eggs and quinoa for the most appetizing healthy breakfast creation we’ve seen in a while. But don’t let that restrict you from pairing it with a salad and eating it for lunch or dinner! Click here for the recipe.
Mediterranean quinoa salad
We’ve already learned that quinoa can be part of an incredible Indian or Creole dish; this recipe from DelishYourDish.com proves it works for Mediterranean too. We have a feeling this is going to be a summer favorite when we’re craving Kalamata olives and don’t want to sweat over the stove. Click here for the recipe.