Quinoa has cemented it’s status as the celebrity among superfoods, ancient grains, plant based protein sources, fitness trainers favorite foods, and the list goes on. Although it’s been revered in the vegan community for years, I have to be honest – I didn’t really like it at first.
Shocker! I know..
I really really wanted to like quinoa from the get go, since I read all about how healthy it is, how great it is for runners, how high in fiber it is, how it’s one of the very few complete vegan protein sources. But I simply didn’t like the taste of it at first. A bit nutty, it also has a somewhat bitter aftertaste, specially when not rinsed. As any carb lover knows, quinoa is no rice or pasta. It just tastes so healthy and not that comforting (at first).
But, I refused to give up! And I sure am happy I did, as quinoa slowly but surely became one of my favorite food staples. Now that I’m in Costa Rica, my pool of vegan protein sources and specialty foods diminished a bit. Nothing too drastic, but there is no Vegan mayo here, no Daiya cheese or coconut milk ice cream in the supermarket. Quinoa truly became one of the healthy food luxuries in my kitchen, and I am grateful it is available even in the smallest supermarket on the corner.
But, I didn’t just get here by chance. It took countless recipe tests for me to get my favorite quinoa preparations right. That is indeed the key to adding new, healthy foods to one’s diet – finding the right recipe and sticking to it. It is a great method to transition to vegetarianism and veganism as well! Instead of cutting foods out of one’s diet, the best way is to add new preparations and ingredients so they can replace the old ones. When transitioning to a new diet and lifestyle, be it veganism, raw food, or just eating healthier, most common complaints are that “new foods” just don’t taste as good. It’s all about getting our palate acquainted with new tastes, while detaching from tastes that the tongue has been used to tasting for years. And although I’ve been adding healthy foods to my plant based diet for years, quinoa still wasn’t all that great at first.
Now that I’ve got my methods, I am more than happy to reveal them, so that someone who shares my struggles can add that awesome healthy food staple to their everyday diet as well.
Quinoa cooking guidelines:
- Find the quinoa type you prefer (white, red, tricolor.. I prefer white for both sweet and salty preparations)
- Rinsing with water before cooking can help rid of some bitterness
- Follow cooking instructions if the package came with it (various types may have different cooking times than others, same with precooked quinoa)
- General ratio is 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups of water
- Add a pinch of salt when cooking (even if making a sweet preparation like quinoa porridge)
- Cook for 15-2o minutes, reduce to medium after the water boils, or when you see your quinoa seeds have grown in size and are slightly transparent
Quinoa super facts:
- It’s a great source of plant based protein, 8g per cup
- It’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids (for those who believe only animal protein is complete protein, quinoa actually proves otherwise)
- It’s a seed, not actually grain – sometimes called pseudograin as it’s prepared like a grain
- It’s gluten free (on account of being a seed)
- It contains heart healthy fats like monounsaturated fat, small amounts of omega 3, and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients among other
- High in manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, folate and B-6
- High in fiber, 5g per cup
Taking it all into consideration, quinoa is overall rich in nutrients, both macro and micro. Because it’s a gluten free seed, and an ancient grain, it is rarely associated with food allergies and is an ingredient you can add to your diet on a regular basis without suffering side effects or malnutrition.
All in all, if you can find a tasty recipe or two, you can easily add quinoa and all those awesome healthy benefits to your diet!
Quinoa Veggie bowl
Also known as the Buddha Bowl, Quinoa veggie bowl is simply Quinoa served with any veggies, raw and cooked, that you have at hand, and maybe covered in a dressing or sauce of choice.
Ingredients (makes 2 bowls):
- 1.25 cup dry rinsed quinoa of choice (I used white organic that I got online at Lucky Vitamin)
(2 cups if you want to make quinoa burgers next day)
- 1/2 tbsp pink Himalayan salt
- 2 cups kale
- 1 cup broccoli and cauliflower florets
- 1 medium carrot
- 4-5 mini zucchinis
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 medium tomato
- 1 avocado
- Put 2 cups of water to boil, add quinoa and salt and lower to medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa looks transparent and ready.
- When cooking quinoa, wash and cut kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and zucchini. If you have a steamer basket, you can put it over quinoa and cook the veggies at the same time, or cook on the side. Carrots will need about 5-7 minutes of steam time, cauliflower and broccoli 5 minutes, kale and zucchini just a minute.
- Cut and rinse the raw veggies, bell pepper, tomato and avocado.
- Assemble your Buddha Quinoa bowl by placing quinoa in a bowl or plate, and arranging the veggies all around. Optionally drizzle with cashew cream.
I used leftover quinoa from by Buddha bowl to make quinoa burgers the next day. Most grains can be recycled this way, but quinoa is perfect for veggie burgers as it’s high in protein.
Ingredients (makes 4-5 medium burgers):
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1/2 zucchini
- 1/4 cup oats (I used regular rolled)
- 1/4 cup veggie burger mix (I used this one from Lucky Vitamin)
- 1/4 garbanzo flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- pinch of paprika, pepper and nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (for cooking)
- Place quinoa, oats and veggie burger into a mixing bowl, shred the zucchini and gently fold it in.
- Add all the spices, including salt. Salt will make zucchini release water. Now add water and garbanzo flour, until your mixture is perfectly sticky to form burgers.
- Form burgers, and grill on a hot pan for few minutes on each side, or until golden. Since all the ingredients besides garbanzo flour are ready to eat, you can’t really undercook your burgers, but make sure they are nice and crunchy.
- Serve on a bun, with salad, rice or your choice of sides! In my opinion, these veggie burgers are perfectly accompanied by pickles, vegan mayo and ketchup!
If you try my recipes, use hashtag #girlintheraw and #GIRrecipe so I can find them on Instagram and Facebook, and let me know in the comments what your favorite Quinoa recipes are. Check out my Quinoa Risotto recipe as well for more ideas!