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10 Ways You Didn't Know You Could Use Quinoa

Quinoa fudge: The desert you didn't know you needed.

Why Quinoa is Awesome

Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. You can use it in savory dishes, but it is also delicious in sweet preparations. Another bonus? Quinoa cooks incredibly fast — it only takes about 15-20 minutes, which is must faster than brown rice, which takes at least 45 minutes.

Creamy Hot Breakfast Quinoa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or cashew milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2-3 packets stevia natural sweetener
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. In a fine-mesh sieve, rinse quinoa well. In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, toast quinoa for about 2-4 minutes until grains separate and are fragrant. Add water, milk, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in vanilla and stevia. Add pistachios, raisins, or another other fruit you would like.

Quinoa Burgers

Rather than relying on flavorless, sodium-packed, pre-packaged burger meat analogs that taste like cardboard, make your own meatless burgers from scratch with quinoa as the star ingredient. The nutty flavor of quinoa pairs wonderfully with the velvety texture of black beans for a protein-packed patty that you’ll crave around BBQ time. Be sure to add other delicious ingredients such as garlic, thyme, rosemary, and your favorite spices. You can also bulk up the nutrition of regular ground beef burgers by using half ground beef and half cooked quinoa in the patties.

Coating Baked Chicken or Fish

Rather than using lackluster breadcrumbs as your coating for baked chicken or fish fillets, opt for quinoa as your go-to for a coating to provide a boost of nutrition as well as flavorful crunch. It is said that we eat with our eyes first, and the unique appearance of the quinoa-coated chicken or fish makes you want to dive right in.

Quinoa Granola Bars

Most store-bought granola bars are loaded with extra sugar and preservatives. Rather than settle for the store-bought stuff, whip up your own healthy quinoa granola bars at home. And while oats are certainly nutritious, these bars combine the cholesterol-lowering effects of oats with the potent protein and mineral boost you find in quinoa.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup nuts (your favorite kind), chopped
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and spread oats, quinoa, and nuts out onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake about 10-15 minutes (stirring occasionally) until mixture is lightly browned. Remove from oven and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir ground flax seeds, salt, and chocolate chips into a bowl with cooled oat quinoa mixture. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and add honey, canola oil, and cinnamon. Mix well, pour over dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Pour mixture into 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Using wet hands (or spatula), press mixture firmly down into the dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely and then cut and serve. This makes about 16 bars.

Quinoa and Chickpea Stir-Fry

Looking for a double-dose of hunger-squashing protein? The flavors and textures of quinoa and chickpeas pair perfectly together in this tasty stir-fry that not only packs a protein punch but delivers a hefty dose of fiber as well.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 3 cups chickpeas cooked from dry
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups diced vegetables, your favorite type
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1-inch cube fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons red curry powder
  • 1 Tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a wok or large skillet with high sides, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add spices and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and add onion. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, jalapeño, and diced vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. Add quinoa and chickpeas, cook about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and spinach, cook about 2 minutes more, stirring frequently. Add salt and cook another 1-2 minutes. Serve hot.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Make your stuffed bell peppers a little more exciting by substituting quinoa for the traditionally-used yet nutrient-poor rice. Quinoa has much more flavor and a unique texture compared to rice, and it looks beautiful inside a brightly-colored bell pepper.

Quinoa Pancakes

Did you know that you can make light, fluffy, delicious pancakes out of quinoa? You absolutely can! For this recipe, you can purchase quinoa flour or simply make your own flour from quinoa by putting uncooked quinoa in a high-powered blender until it becomes a flour-like consistency. These pancakes will have fewer carbs and more protein than traditional pancakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup almond or cashew milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, add all ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
  2. Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Turn skillet to medium heat and drop 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. This should make about 8 pancakes. Top with your favorite fruit, light syrup, or nut butter and enjoy!

Quinoa & Cauliflower Meatballs

These meatballs are actually vegetarian, but even your meat-loving buddies will rave over these, and they could not be easier to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups water (to cook the quinoa)
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons whole-wheat flour
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Steam cauliflower until soft.
  2. Place cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor and pulse for about 10-15 seconds or until it is pureed.
  3. Remove mixture from processor and place in large bowl. Add quinoa, breadcrumbs, flour, egg whites, seasonings, and salt and stir by hand until well combined. Put mixture in the fridge for about 10-15 for it to cool and firm up.
  4. Use your hands to mold into balls about the size of ping-pong balls. If the mixture is too moist and is not holding together, add flour a tablespoon at a time until they are firm.
  5. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown all sides of the balls with a little olive oil.
  6. Place meatballs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (for easier clean-up). Bake about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Quinoa Taco Filling

Who doesn’t love tacos? This recipe is incredibly simple and even more delectable. Plus, it works as a filling for tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and taco salads.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked red, white, or tri-color quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chunky salsa
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon canola or olive oil

Directions

  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add quinoa. Toast about 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-25 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Add quinoa to a large mixing bowl and add in all remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Spread mixture out on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake 25-35 minutes, removing from oven to stir halfway through. Quinoa will be done when it is golden brown and fragrant. Watch it closely so it does not burn. Use in place of taco meat in any of your favorite Mexican dishes.

Quinoa Fudge

Of course, no list is complete without a decadent, rich, secretly-healthy dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 8 medjool dates
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 3-4 Tablespoons water

Directions

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast quinoa until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring to ensure it toasts evenly.
  2. Place quinoa in a high-powered blender, turn on high and blend until quinoa becomes a flour-like texture. Transfer to a food processor.
  3. To the food processor, add cocoa powder, dates, and coconut oil. Process until well combined.
  4. With food processor on, add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until a dough has formed. In a container lined with foil or plastic wrap, press dough into a container and smooth out.
  5. Place in your freezer about 3-4 hours or until fudge has set. Remove from freezer and cut into 1/2-inch squares. Enjoy, and keep stored in your freezer until your next craving for guilt-free chocolate comes along.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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