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When I started this Healthy Living thing I thought eating whole wheat pasta was the key.  It was better than the white past and white rice I had been eating and it didn’t take forever to cook like brown rice.  Score!  But then I got bored with it very quickly.  Enter Trader Joe’s and their plethora of grains and pastas to choose from.  Quinoa…what’s that…never mind how do you pronounce it?

I soon learned it was Keen-wa and you need to rinse it first so it doesn’t taste like dirty soap (I made that mistake the first time and almost swore it off).  But the stuff took so dang long to cook like brown rice that I hardly made it.  Until I learned you could refrigerate it for up to one week and freeze it FOREVER…kind of like the shelf life of a twinkie 🙂  And the rice cooker made cooking it and brown rice so simple.  I have an awesome rice cooker that you can set a delay time on and it will be done whenever you want and will keep it warm until you are ready for it.

So in my plan precook meals making my vegetarianism, need for fun food and crazy life easier I decided quinoa would definitely bet top on my list.  So I premade 4 cups of it and set to using it this past week.  I used it for a base to a chili mixture I made but didn’t take a picture.  It was just a bunch of beans from my pantry…yes this one…

I live on this stuff.

It ended up looking something like this…

Chili mix on top of grains.

Of course it’s not exactly this because that grain is couscous but you get the idea.

I make a great black bean southwest quinoa salad but once again I’m a bad food blogger and don’t take pictures of food before eating it.  But it is full of roasted red peppers, black beans, roasted corn, lime, cilantro and cummin.  I love it but Hunni hates it because he’s not a fan of lime.  So I usually just make it for friends. Something else I used it for was to bulk up salads. It gives a different texture and helps fill me up too.  So I start with a base of mixed greens and add the quinoa to the top.

The base

Then the toppings are endless.  For me anything in the fridge is fair game for a salad.  Today was an omelettey thing.  I used my George to make it fun.

George makes great eggs!

I think I added smoked gouda, mushrooms and leftover quesadilla toppings.  Then I threw it on top of the salad.

Randomness is my friend.

Salad dressings are not my friend with all the hidden sugars so I stuck with an old friend of mine.

Salsa is the best condiment.

The finished product was great!  And it kept me full for hours.

Don't you just want to eat that!?

I also love using my quinoa for breakfast.  Half a cup of cold quinoa, half a cup of almond milk, 1 tbsp pumpkin butter and a big dash of cinnamon.

The ingredients.

Throw it all in a bowl and microwave for about two minutes until nice and hot.

To stir or not to stir.

Then the important part is to let it rest.  The quinoa is already cooked but it will absorb the liquid if you let it rest.  Trust me on this.  I know you are hungry in the morning but leave it in the microwave if you are impatient.

Almost ready 🙂

When its ready dig in.  It will have firmed up a bit but it will be spicy sweet.  And the grains will have absorbed the cinnamon and pumpkin taste.

Grainy goodness.

And yes I am the kind of girl who hoards pumpkin butter from the fall to hopefully make it last until next fall.

One lonely jar left.

This breakfast may make me use up my stash quicker than I hoped.  But it is so worth it.

So there are a few of my options.  I have a few others but these are my favorites now.

Do you use quinoa?  Got any recipes to share?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. amy manning permalink
    27/05/2010 1:03 PM

    I have also come to LOVE quinoia…scared me at first, bought it bulk and couldn’t understand why after an HOUR it still looked like the dry product. What I came up with though was quinoia mac and cheese (no mac really, but for discussion purposes…) I used low fat yummy cheeses, almond milk and veggies (mushrooms and other random stuff). I actually make my plain quinoia in the crock pot…just have to remember to give it enough room to expand 🙂
    I will be trying your breakfast idea sometime this week, it sounds good!

  2. 27/05/2010 1:05 PM

    I love baking with quinoa!

  3. 27/05/2010 4:42 PM

    I love your cabinets that have pull-out drawers!

    I made an excellent lasagna using quinoa instead of noodles and I added eggplant. It was delish.


  4. 27/05/2010 4:43 PM

    Here is my recipe:

    Quinoa Eggplant Lasagna

    * 1 jar tomato sauce (or whatever tomato sauce you want to use–I used Franceso Rinaldi no salt added sauce)
    * 2 small eggplants with skin on (I used Chinese eggplant) cut into large cubes (about 1.5 inches)
    * 7 or 8 cloves garlic, whole
    * 2 small onions, sliced
    * 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
    * Few tablespoons water
    * 4 cups cooked quinoa (Save time by cooking it ahead of time. I made mine in my crock pot.)
    * 8 slices (~4oz) Sargento reduced fat provolone or mozzarella cheese shredded in food processor
    * 1.5 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    * Tomato slices for topping
    * Fresh and/or dried Italian herbs, such as parsley and basil
    * Salt, optional (I didn’t add any)

    1. In a deep nonstick skillet or saucepan, add in EVOO, sliced onions and garlic cloves; saute for a few minutes, then add in eggplant cubes and toss together.
    2. Add a few tablespoons of water to the pan, cover and let simmer on medium-low heat for about 7 or 8 minutes; add in your tomato sauce and let simmer on low uncovered for 20-30 minutes; stir often
    3. Preheat oven to 375F
    4. In a lasagna pan or something equal in size, start with a thin layer of sauce on the entire bottom of pan (it’s ok if it’s chunky from the eggplant and other veggies)
    5. Then a layer of quinoa (I did 2 cups per layer, 2 layers total); more sauce, half of the ricotta either in drops or spread across, which is a little harder with quinoa than noodles; half of the shredded cheese. Repeat for another layer or however many layers you are making. Basically the same way you would make regular lasagna
    6. Top with tomato slices and dried Italian seasonings (I used dried oregano and parsley)
    7. Cover with foil and place tray on a baking sheet. Bake on 375F for 40 minutes with foil on to avoid burning the cheese, then 10-15 minutes with the foil off.

    Pictures of it here:

  5. 27/05/2010 5:56 PM

    I’ve never had quinoa before, but I’m going to buy some when I hit up the grocery store.

    The breakfast dish looks yummy!!


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