By Jennifer Landis:
Quinoa is one of the trending ancient grains that pack a powerful punch of protein. In fact, it contains complete protein — that means it boasts all the amino acids your body needs to build muscle. Usually, you find complete protein only in meat, when it’s accompanied by unwanted extras like saturated fat and extra calories.
What’s more, quinoa is incredibly versatile. You can use it in sweet and savory recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. Need some ideas for how to incorporate this superfood into your meal lineup? Here are a few quinoa cooking pro-tips and recipes to try.
1. Breakfast Quinoa
This simple breakfast quinoa recipe begins by bringing milk to a boil in a saucepan and then adding the quinoa. Once the quinoa soaks up most of the milk, add a dash of sugar and cinnamon, and wait until everything is completely absorbed. Then add blueberries and enjoy the sweet quinoa with optional extra milk, sugar and cinnamon.
2. Caramel Crunch Quinoa Granola
Fans will love this “caramel crunch” granola. It requires only a small amount of maple syrup (about a quarter-cup), so it’s lower in sugar than your standard granola. Plus, with the mix of quinoa, chia seeds, pepitas, almonds and dried cranberries, it provides the antioxidant power, the protein and the healthy fats.
Simply heat the coconut oil on the stovetop until it melts, and add the maple syrup and chia seeds. Drizzle this mixture over the dry ingredients and bake.
3. Santa Fe Quinoa Salad
Prepare the quinoa with a pinch of salt and refrigerate it until it’s cool; then add your house-made cumin dressing, black beans, bell pepper, cilantro and onion. Toss everything together and serve in a bowl with a few slices of avocado on top.
4. Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Strips
Since you bake the strips, they’re lower in fat and higher in healthy nutrients than the greasy chicken nuggets you’d grab at a drive-through. The recipe also includes a simple barbecue honey mustard sauce you can make if you’re inclined to indulge.
5. Quinoa with Corn and Scallions
With a dash of salt and pepper, a blend of lemon and butter, and a drizzle of honey, you create the perfect salty-sweet dressing to coat the quinoa and corn. Dish out this colorful side with chicken fresh from the grill or a filet of salmon seared to perfection.
6. Quinoa and Salmon Fritters
Don’t let the fancy name of the fritter fool you. This is actually as simple as shaping a hamburger. Mix together quinoa and canned salmon with parmesan cheese, parsley, breadcrumbs and eggs. Then form small patties and sear them in a cast-iron skillet. Enjoy atop a salad or stuffed inside a bun.
How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly
If you’ve been reading this article and wondering , here’s a crash course. Cooking quinoa is pretty similar to cooking rice in that you use the ratio of 2:1 water to quinoa. So if you’re making a cup of quinoa, boil it in two cups of water.
It’ll take around 20 minutes to cook most types of quinoa, but you can shave off some time by whipping up smaller quantities when you don’t need an entire cup for a recipe. Pay close attention to your pan so as not to over- or undercook the superfood.
With so many ways to incorporate quinoa into your menus throughout your week, maybe it’s time to try it. Whether you whip up a batch of breakfast quinoa or craft a few salmon-quinoa fritters to enjoy atop a bed of lettuce, the extra protein and fiber could make a big difference in how you feel. It could even be the fuel you need to really crush your workout at the end of the day. So take a leap of culinary faith and try some quinoa in your breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Jennifer Landis is a mother, wife, and the editor of Mindfulness Mama . She enjoys yoga, green tea, and dark chocolate. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.