Quinoa is one of those foods that just evokes confusion. And the name really isn’t helping matters. So, I am here to debunk the myth that quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is complicated.
Here’s what you need to know: The gluten-free seed acts like a grain (i.e. you can sub it pretty much anywhere you’d use rice or pasta), it contains all nine amino acids, and it boasts an impressive amount of protein, fiber and iron. And, cooking it is as simple as boiling water—really! Just add your desired amount of quinoa and twice the amount of water (i.e. 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water), bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
Here are a few easy recipes to kick start your love affair with this oh-so-versatile superfood.
Chunky Southwestern Quinoa Salad
via Fit Foodie Finds
Being the shameless Mexican food junkie that I am, any recipe combining avocado and black beans immediately has my attention. This salad, tossed with those two goodies, along with tomato, corn, lime juice and spices is basically a Chipotle burrito bowl, minus the post-meal shame. You can easily toss in extras that you have lying around, like bell peppers or cilantro.
Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms and Thyme
via Bon Appetit
Risotto is number one on my list when it comes to cozy, cold-weather comfort food. But it is also insanely indulgent, like most of the winter favorites (think hot chocolate, pie, macaroni and cheese). With this healthy, herb-infused twist on the classic, you might not have to worry so much about buttoning your jeans the next morning.
Kale and Quinoa Salad
via All Recipes
These two superfoods are a match made in heaven. This well-rounded dish, filled with currants, pecans and feta cheese, makes a super filling lunch or dinner salad. Feel free to play with the dried fruit and nut options based on what you've got in the pantry.
Quinoa Stuffed Portobellos
Portobellos stuffed with filling quinoa, creamy feta cheese and vitamin-packed Brussels sprouts—basically, the stuff ripped-bikini-body-dreams are made of. This hearty dish is a great main course and is also delicious packed for lunch the next day.
Tuna and Quinoa Wrap
via Whole Living
An oldie, but a goodie: This recipe substitutes Greek yogurt for mayo and adds fresh mint and parsley, creating a healthy spin on the classic tuna salad sandwich. The protein-packed quinoa added to this wrap should keep you nice and full throughout the rest of the day. (In other words, no mid-afternoon hunger pangs telling you to "just buy an Auntie Anne's pretzel, already!")
Cajun Crab Quinoa Cakes
via My Recipes
Crab cakes are undeniably delicious. Crab cakes that aren't stuffed with carb-heavy breadcrumbs and flour? Even better. This recipe uses quinoa to bind the ingredients, rather than tossing in the usual suspects, making these crab cakes the perfect dinner party dish for the next time you host your gluten-free friends.
Almond-Cranberry Quinoa Cookies
via Bon Appetit
We can't forget about dessert. These healthy protein-packed cookies are delicious fresh out of the oven or on the go. You can even try adding in some dark-chocolate chips. You know—just for the antioxidants.