3 Simple, Protein-Rich Quinoa Recipes to Try This Week

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Quinoa is no longer a fad food. This teeny grain (technically a seed) has become a wellness staple. It’s already a favorite for those who follow a gluten-free diet and vegans and vegetarians looking to up their protein intake. Additionally, it’s easy to cook and incredibly versatile, fitting into sweet and savory recipes. We spoke to experts to learn more about the benefits of the seed and asked them to share their favorite quinoa recipes.

The Benefits of Quinoa

This seed is one of the few foods of the vegetable origin that offers all the essential amino acids and vitamins equivalent to the protein quality found in milk. “Quinoa is definitely my go-to grain. It cooks up in 18 minutes and is so nourishing and satisfying,” says Alison Wu, creator of Wu Haus.

Quinoa is also packed with other beneficial nutrients. “Quinoa is super-rich in nutrients and has significant amounts of certain tocopherols (vitamin E family members) that are largely absent from most grains,” says Lindsey Bristol, M.S., R.D. “In addition, it’s a good source of nutrients like folate, copper, and phosphorus. Calcium is also especially concentrated in quinoa in comparison to other grains. On an ounce-for-ounce basis, quinoa provides over twice the amount of calcium found in whole wheat.”

Like we said, quinoa is super versatile—you can try it as a cereal or an extra topping on your favorite salad. “If you are looking for a good gluten-free option, this is it. Quinoa is nutritious and packed with protein, which will give you long-lasting energy. It adapts well to any flavor you add to it,” says Jodi Moreno, a natural foods chef and author.

Quinoa comes in a few different colors and varieties. While it’s a matter of personal taste and texture preferences, if you want a shorter cook time, opt for sprouted quinoa. Wu adds, “The sprouted kind of quinoa is easier on the digestive system.”

So, if you’re looking for new ways to rev up your metabolism and get more energy out of your meals, quinoa is a must. Experts share some of their favorite quinoa recipes below.

Quinoa Recipes

Rainbow Garden Salad by Jodi Moreno

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients
Roasted Vegetables
2 large Japanese eggplants (the long, thin variety), cubed
2 medium zucchini, cubed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Quinoa
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
Sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

To Serve
2 large handfuls of arugula

Directions
Roasted Vegetables

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and put the veggies on it (I like to keep the veggies separate, but it’s fine to mix them all together if you prefer).
  3. Drizzle the olive oil over the veggies, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until all of the veggies are tender and caramelized.

Quinoa

  1. Put the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan with a pinch of salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Once the quinoa is done cooking, remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and allow it to cool. I like the quinoa to be at room temperature for this salad, so I spread it out onto a small baking sheet and put it in the fridge until I am ready to serve; however, this is optional. Feel free to serve it warm if you prefer.
  4. When the quinoa is cooled to your liking, toss it with the olive oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

To Serve
In a large serving bowl, first add the arugula, then the quinoa, and finish with the veggies on top. I like to arrange the veggies each in a row to look like a rainbow.

Almond-Quinoa Energy Bars by Lindsey Bristol, M.S., R.D.

Yields: 10 servings

Ingredients
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup sliced almonds
¾ cup cooked quinoa
1 cup smooth unsalted almond butter
⅔ cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix until smooth.
  3. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.
  4. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Let cool completely, then slice into 10 bars and serve.

Kale Salad Bowl With Tahini Dressing by Alison Wu

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

Salad
1 bunch lacinato kale
½ head of radicchio
1 cup quinoa, cooked
3 golden beets, cubed
1 avocado, sliced
1-2 handfuls sugar snap peas
Small handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
Juice from half a lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon hot chili powder
2 tablespoons avocado or coconut oil

Tahini Dressing
4 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons warm water
2-3 cloves raw garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the beets into cubes and toss with about a tablespoon of oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until beets are tender but not overcooked, tossing a few times during roasting.
  3. Drain and rinse the canned chickpeas. Toss with avocado oil and chili powder on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, tossing a few times during roasting.
  4. Cut the washed kale and radicchio into thin strips. In a medium bowl, toss with olive oil and lemon juice. Massage until the kale is tenderized.
  5. Combine the cooked quinoa with the parsley and pumpkin seeds, and set aside.
  6. Mix the tahini, warm water, raw garlic, salt, and pepper in a small jar or cup. You can adjust the amount of water and tahini based on how thick or runny you want the dressing.
  7. Divide the kale and radicchio salad between two bowls. Start layering in your toppings. I like to section mine off, but you could also just toss everything together in a large bowl and then divide into individual servings.
  8. Drizzle the tahini dressing on top of each bowl, and serve with a slice of lemon.

Whether you’re looking to add more protein in your diet or for new easy-to-make healthy summer recipes, add these quinoa recipes to your weekly meal planning.

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