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17 Unique Quinoa Recipes to Love

By Fitoru | 11 January 2019
spoonful of quinoa

Quinoa’s popularity continues to grow, and we all have our go-to healthy quinoa recipes that we’ve made hundreds of times. If you are ready to shake things up and try new quinoa recipes in flavor combinations from around the world, we’ve got you covered!

What Is Quinoa?

Quinoa is a seed that has been cultivated for thousands of years in regions of the Andean Mountain range. Quinoa is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, with a pleasing, almost nutty flavor and a slightly crunchy texture that can be enjoyed cold in salads or hot in a side dish or main entree.

There are a number of quinoa varieties to choose from. The most common quinoa found in the United States is white or yellow; however, many other colors, including black, purple, orange, red, and even pink quinoa, can be found. All of the varieties of quinoa taste similar and offer similar nutrition benefits.

Quinoa does contain fat like other seeds, so it is essential to store it properly to ensure the oil doesn’t become rancid. When you bring home quinoa, transfer it to an air-tight container and stash it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

Quinoa Nutrition

Quinoa contains more protein than any other seed or grain on the planet. It’s classified as a “complete protein” because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids the human body needs and can’t make on its own.

Quinoa carbs are a little on the high side for those restricting carb intake or for those on a keto diet, but its nutrient profile makes it a superfood not to be missed.

1 cup of cooked quinoa provides:

  • Calories: 222
  • Protein: 8.1 grams
  • Fat: 3.6 grams 5% DV
  • Total carbohydrates: 39.4 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 5.2 grams
  • Manganese: 1.2 milligrams 58% DV
  • Magnesium: 118 milligrams 30% DV
  • Phosphorus: 281 milligrams 28% DV
  • Folate: 77.7 micrograms 19% DV
  • Copper: 0.4 milligrams 18% DV
  • Iron: 2.8 milligrams 15% DV
  • Zinc: 2.0 milligrams 13% DV
  • Thiamin: 0.2 milligrams 13% DV
  • Riboflavin: 0.2 milligrams 12% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 0.2 milligrams 11% DV

Quinoa is also bursting with flavonoids and other phenolic compounds, including quercetin, catechin gallate, and kaempferol. This super nutritious seed has a low glycemic index. What does this mean for your health? It won’t raise your blood sugar levels rapidly after eating!

And if you’re wondering if quinoa is gluten free—it is! If you have a gluten intolerance or a gluten allergy, you can enjoy quinoa recipes as often as you’d like.

6 Secrets for How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly

If you follow the directions on the package of quinoa, you may end up with mushy quinoa. How your quinoa comes out after cooking depends on many factors, such as the level of humidity in your home, the age of the quinoa, and the altitude of your home.

Here are the secrets to cooking quinoa perfectly every time.

If you love quinoa, try these 17 unique quinoa recipes.

17 Unique Quinoa Recipes

Quinoa is a perfect food to incorporate into your New Year’s diet resolutions. It is filling, delicious, reasonably priced, and incredibly versatile. Here are some of our favorite quinoa recipes.

1. Quick Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Once you have conquered how to cook quinoa, you’ll find that stashing some in your refrigerator is ideal for quick (and delicious!) breakfast bowls. From Root & Blossom comes the Quinoa, Scrambled Egg, Avocado, and Salsa breakfast bowl that is loaded with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. If you prefer runny yolks, top the quinoa with two poached eggs—they will create a lovely sauce for the quinoa.

2. Kale and Quinoa Salad

If you are looking for creative ways to add leafy greens to your diet, this Kale and Quinoa Salad from Valerie Bertinelli is a great one to try. Cooked quinoa is tossed with blanched kale, pine nuts, tomatoes, goat cheese, and a simple vinaigrette. This is a fantastic quinoa recipe that packs well and is great for lunches at your desk.

3. Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Cucumber

From Cookie + Kate comes the Favorite Quinoa Salad reminiscent of Middle Eastern tabbouleh—without the gluten. The chickpeas, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, and parsley add to this salad’s nutritious vibe and deliver a ton of texture and flavor. The dressing is a lovely combination of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar. If you are packing this for a picnic or quick lunch, keep the dressing separate and toss just before eating.

4. Quinoa and Chicken Salad

This quinoa recipe from Two Healthy Kitchens has it all—nuts, chicken, leafy greens, cheese, and a zesty dressing. Enjoy this Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon, and Basil for a luncheon or family dinner. The best part? This quinoa salad can be made in advance and refrigerated until you and your guests are ready to dive in.

5. Black Bean and Quinoa Vegetarian Chili

If vegetarian chili recipes you’ve tried before lack flavor and texture, you have to try this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen. Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Chili gets a kick of flavor from the addition of smoked chipotles. Because of the sweet potato, this recipe can be a touch on the sweet side, so boost the heat with chilies and add salt as needed.

6. Quinoa Spring Rolls

Are you craving Thai food? You have to try this Roasted Shrimp Quinoa Spring Roll recipe from Damn Delicious. The quinoa is partnered with fresh veggies and shrimp and then wrapped in rice paper—but it’s the spicy peanut sauce that makes this recipe a hit!

7. Quinoa-Crusted Chicken

Do you miss crunchy fried chicken? We did, until we tried this Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken from Faithfully Gluten Free. Chicken strips are coated in spices, rice flour, cornstarch, and quinoa, and then baked to a golden brown and delicious crunchiness. Don’t miss whipping up a batch of the avocado-based dipping sauce—it’s delicious!

8. Creamy Quinoa Soup

On a chilly winter’s day, this Creamy Italian Quinoa Soup from Platings + Pairings is a bowl of perfection that will warm you to your core. A bunch of veggies, chickpeas, and quinoa are all nestled into a creamy Italian-inspired tomato sauce base that will delight even your pickiest eaters.

9. Peruvian Quinoa Soup with Chicken

Food52 has adapted a traditional Peruvian quinoa recipe to American tastes and pantries, and boy are we glad. Soupa de Quinoa con Pollo is hearty but remains light because of the super flavorful broth filled with herbs and vegetables. Add another pasilla pepper while it is stewing if you want a bit more heat. Beware—this recipe just may become your go-to chicken soup recipe!

10. Peruvian Quinoa Bowl

Here is another twist on the traditional Peruvian quinoa recipe called Causa. Causa is a dish that layers fresh vegetables, potatoes, seafood, and quinoa together into a delicious bite. Here, Clean Eating has reimagined Causa into a Peruvian Quinoa Bowl with shellfish. This quinoa recipe is visually stunning, and it packs a punch in nutrients too—it is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

11. Healthy Shrimp Scampi and Quinoa

Garlicky shrimp cooked with just a hint of heat is the perfect accompaniment to this quinoa recipe from As Easy As Apple Pie. If you love the flavors of shrimp and grits or shrimp scampi, you will love this healthy twist—Spicy Garlic Shrimp and Quinoa—that is loaded with protein and fiber, and amazingly low in calories.

12. Vegan Tandoori Quinoa

This recipe takes us over to India where the warming spices of garam masala complement a bounty of vegetables and quinoa. This One Pot Tandoori Quinoa from Yup…it’s Vegan! is an inspired combination of flavors and textures. Best of all, this is a real “hands-off” meal that just requires chopping the vegetables and herbs before tossing into a pot for a short simmer.

13. Quinoa Cakes

Quinoa’s protein content makes it the perfect base for healthy vegetarian “burgers.” Let’s be honest, vegetarian burgers rarely taste as good as they should, or could. But that’s where these Spinach-Quinoa Cakes with Bell Pepper Relish shine. This recipe includes a variety of aromatics, spinach, and goat cheese to create a dense and flavorful cake you can easily enjoy on a bun, or with a knife and fork.

14. Spaghetti and Quinoa Balls

Don’t run away. This recipe from Honey, What’s Cooking is a crowd pleaser! These Vegetarian Spaghetti and Quinoa Meatballs have all the flavors of traditional spaghetti and meatballs, without the guilt. The sauce is delicious, but it’s the genius combination of quinoa, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs that make this dish special.

15. Quinoa Pudding

Move over chia pudding, there’s a new healthy pudding on the block—Quinoa Pudding with Maple Syrup and Coconut Milk. This sweet treat is one you can feel good about eating and giving your kids.

16. Quinoa Chocolate Cake

We have to admit, the idea of a chocolate cake made from quinoa seemed a little odd, until we tried it. From Making Thyme For Health, comes this utterly divine Best-Ever Chocolate Quinoa Cake that uses cooked quinoa, almond milk, coconut oil, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, and leavening ingredients to create a moist and texturally appealing cake.

17. Quinoa Granola Bars

If you are heading out on an afternoon hike, or just need a quick snack, this Toasted Quinoa, Dried Fig & Dark Chocolate Granola Bar is a terrific energy booster. This quinoa recipe combines oats, quinoa, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseed meal with figs, sunflower butter, and honey for a touch of sweetness and chewiness. Try this recipe once and you’ll never buy a commercial granola bar again!

If you love quinoa, try these 17 unique quinoa recipes.

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