14 Ways to Add Quinoa to Your Diet
Quinoa is rich in fiber and protein. Check out these three recipes for mouth-watering quinoa dishes.
Toss into a smoothie
You’ve probably heard of people sprinkling chia or flax seeds into their smoothies to boost protein content. Add quinoa to the list—you can blend cooked quinoa into any smoothie recipe, says Vandana Sheth, RD, a Los Angeles-based dietitian and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The dose of protein will transform your fruit smoothie into a legitimate morning meal that will keep you full until lunch. Use 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa per 1 cup of smoothie.
Use instead of oatmeal
Not up for making time-intensive steel-cut oatmeal? Sub in quinoa. The grains cook a lot faster because they're so small, says Julieanna Hever, RD, a Los Angeles-based dietician and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition. Plus, you can still season your cereal with all your favorite toppings, like cinnamon, fresh fruit, and nuts. You’ll get more nutritional value too as a cup of cooked quinoa packs double the protein than the same serving of oatmeal. That’s good for staying full and keeping your blood pressure in check.
Try this recipe: Lemon-Blueberry Quinoa Porridge
Make your own energy bars
“It’s easy to make your own version of your favorite breakfast bar that you buy at the store," Sheth says. Combine about two cups of cooked quinoa with a cup of whole-wheat flour and add nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or chocolate chips. Then stir in two cups of cooked oats to enhance the whole-grain count, eggs or flax seed meal to help bind the mixture, and a teaspoon of baking soda so the bars will rise as they cook. You could also add a touch of honey or maple syrup for extra sweetness or nut butter for more protein. Prepare a pan with cooking spray, add your mix, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. In no time, you’ll have your own bars to grab on a hectic morning.
Throw inside a quiche
Quiche might be the perfect breakfast. All you need are eggs, a few handfuls of your favorite veggies, a crust, and maybe some meat and cheese. And yes, you can also throw in some quinoa, says Megan Roosevelt, RD, a plant-based dietitian and founder of the nutrition site Healthy Grocery Girl. Adding quinoa to the egg filling of your favorite quiche recipe gives the dish an extra dose of protein and antioxidants. The amount of quinoa used may vary depending on the recipe, but generally you can stick with one cup of cooked quinoa for every eight eggs, Roosevelt says. Bake per the recipe instructions.
Watch the video:3 Ways to Get More Fiber
Add it to salads
Mixing cooked quinoa with your favorite greens is one of the easiest ways to boost your whole-grain intake. “When it comes to salads, quinoa is extremely versatile," Sheth says. Whether you go for a Mediterranean salad with cucumbers and garbanzo beans or spice things up with cilantro, roasted corn, and jalapenos for a Mexican twist, quinoa pairs well with just about anything and is more nutritious than high-calorie croutons. Here’s a tip to make things even more tasty. “If you use quinoa at the bottom of your salad as a base, it will absorb even more flavor from the veggies and dressing," Roosevelt says.
Try this recipe: Quinoa Salad With Chicken, Avocado, and Oranges
Stir into a chili
“A good chili is all about the variety of textures," Hever says, and stirring in cooked quinoa adds a bit more. Plus, quinoa adds even more fiber and protein to a dish that's already chockfull of nutrients from traditional ingredients like lentils, beans, carrots, onion, and corn, Hever says. For one batch of chili, about two cups of cooked quinoa should work. Just be mindful you don’t over do it in proportion to the other ingredients. Add quinoa in the last 15 minutes of cooking so it doesn’t get overdone, she says.
Try this recipe: Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili
Swap for rice in veggie stuffings
Replace rice with cooked quinoa in the filling of any "stuffed" veggie recipe—think bell peppers or butternut squash—for a nutrient boost. Not only does quinoa provide almost 16% of your daily iron value compared to brown rice, but it also has more phosphorous, potassium, folate, and zinc, Sheth says. And since the grain is packed with protein, you could cut down on the meat in your favorite recipe without losing the nutrient's satiating and belly-flattening effects.
Try this recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Poblano Chiles
Power up a burrito filling
A burrito is another no-brainer way to add quinoa to your diet by using it to replace rice. After cooking about a cup of quinoa, sauté the rest of the veggies you want to wrap up (Sheth loves spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes). When they're cooked through, stir them into the quinoa and then roll the mixture up in three to four whole-wheat tortillas with salsa and beans and bake for about 15 minutes. Before you know it, you’ll have enough protein- and vitamin-packed burritos to eat for lunch for most of the week.
Add texture to a burger
For a more filling burger, all you need is some cooked quinoa. Add 1 cup of quinoa per 1 pound of ground meat to make four servings, Roosevelt says. And if you’re a vegetarian, then you can use quinoa to make patties. In this case, you would use 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa with 1 cup of beans to get the same serving size, Roosevelt suggests. While whole quinoa in addition to an egg substitute can be a great binder, you may still have issues getting things to hold. Luckily, there’s a trick to ensure you never have to see your patties crumble on your spatula. “You need something that will add moisture and has a sticky consistency," Roosevelt says. “Using sweet potato as a paste will help keep the patty together."
Use as a binder for meatloaf
In most meatloaf recipes, breadcrumbs are added to help bind the ingredients together, but breadcrumbs can be high in fat and sodium, not to mention simple carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar. A better option would be to use cooked quinoa in their place. Swap out the breadcrumbs in any meatloaf recipe for the same amount of cooked quinoa. That will give the bread a nutty flavor and texture, Roosevelt says.
Make healthier breaded chicken
Breading chicken breasts with quinoa instead of breadcrumbs provides the same crispy goodness you’re used to—and you might like this healthier version even more. “Cooked quinoa is ideal as breading because when it’s toasted it gets super crunchy," Roosevelt says. Dip the chicken breasts in whisked eggs, coat the breasts in cooked quinoa, season with salt and pepper, and then bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees, she says.
Mix into pudding
Love rice pudding? Then you should try quinoa pudding. Quinoa pudding is prepped just like any other pudding recipe, except swap in cooked quinoa for the rice or tapioca to mix with the usual ingredients like milk, sugar, and eggs, Sheth says. Top with cinnamon, berries, or chopped nuts. In any case, you’ll end up with a delicious treat that packs extra protein and can be stored in the fridge.
Try this recipe: Quinoa Pudding
Sprinkle in a parfait
Got quinoa left over after dinner? Use the rest in a parfait, suggests Sheth. Layer the grain with non-fat Greek yogurt and top with berries, nuts, and honey for an easy sweet treat that's sure to satisfy. Bonus: quinoa is a much healthier choice than granola, which is typically loaded with fat, sugar, and calories.
Bake inside a fritter
Quinoa complements the other ingredients you'd normally find in a fritter, like cheese, onion, and pepper. “When you’re eating, texture is really important," Roosevelt says. “Quinoa will give a fritter a nutty texture to help balance out the creaminess of ingredients like sweet potato." In addition to spices like black pepper and paprika, don’t forget to fill your fritter with nutritious and satisfying veggies such as broccoli, scallions, zucchini, and corn.