What Is Quinoa? 15 Creative Recipes

This protein-packed grain looks a bit like couscous, is as versatile as rice, and tastes delicious on its own or in these quinoa recipes.

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Basic Quinoa Recipe

Basic Quinoa RecipeiStockphoto /Thinkstock
Pronounced “keen-wah,” this protein-packed grain contains every amino acid, and is particularly rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Quinoa is also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber. It looks a bit like couscous and is as versatile as rice, but quinoa has a richer, nuttier flavor than either of them.

Quinoa seeds have a naturally bitter coating to deter birds that must be soaked off before preparing. Packaged quinoa has likely been pre-soaked, but check before cooking. To cook it, soak 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water for 5-10 minutes (to dissolve any remaining bitter coating). Drain and rinse. Pour into a pot and add 1 1/2 cups of water and a half teaspoon of salt. Boil, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork and serve. Quinoa can be eaten on its own as a side dish, with a bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper, or other seasonings. It also makes a great breakfast dish mixed with dried fruit, cinnamon, milk, and maple syrup or honey. Paired with chili, stir-fries, beans or curries, quinoa is a healthy substitute for rice, and it also makes a tasty pilaf. As a main course, use it to make meat-free burgers, mix it into stews or toss it into salads. Quinoa works as a baking grain as well, and makes for delicious and nutritious breads and muffins. Click for more ideas.

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa SaladCourtesy of Ambitious Kitchen
This Asian-inspired dish from Ambitious Kitchen incorporates peppers, carrots, onions, and cilantro into her version, but feel free to experiment.

Enchilada Chicken Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Enchilada Chicken Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers Courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen
Roasted bell peppers from Ambitious Kitchen are stuffed with quinoa, chicken, red enchilada sauce, cheese, and spices in this satisfying Mexican-themed dish.

Shrimp and Vegetable Quinoa Fried Rice

Shrimp and Vegetable Quinoa Fried RiceCourtesy of Alyssa Rimmer
This "healthified version of shrimp fried rice" on Queen of Quinoa suggests sautéing the veggies in water instead of oil. In general, quinoa is a healthy substitute for rice (and makes a tasty pilaf).

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Dark Chocolate Quinoa Cookies

Dark Chocolate Quinoa CookiesCourtesy of Alyssa Rimmer
The secret to the rich flavor of these cookies on Queen of Quinoa is a half cup of cocoa powder with chocolate chunks folded into the batter.

Rosemary Quinoa Turkey Meatballs

Rosemary Quinoa Turkey MeatballsCourtesy of Alyssa Rimmer
Quinoa functions as the perfect binder in these protein-filled turkey meatballs from the blog Queen of Quinoa. The recipe's good-for-you factor is boosted by the use of spaghetti squash in place of pasta, but you could serve these with whatever you like.

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Quinoa Pancakes

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Quinoa PancakesCourtesy of Ambitious Kitchen
Quinoa and Greek yogurt amp up protein in these pancakes from the blog Ambitious Kitchen. On its own, quinoa also makes a great breakfast mixed with dried fruit, cinnamon, milk, and maple syrup or honey.

Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Protein Bars

Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Protein BarsCourtesy of Almonds and Avocados Blog
These healthy quinoa-based snacks from the blog Almonds & Avocados incorporate many nutrient-rich foods like bananas, Medjool dates, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almond butter. This recipe also forgoes processed sugar, unlike many store-bought protein bars.

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Southwestern Quinoa Bites

Southwestern Quinoa BitesCourtesy of So Very Blessed
These quinoa bites from the blog So Very Blessed combine quinoa with black beans, frozen corn, and onion and bake up easily in a muffin tin.

Healthy “Reese’s” Quinoa Crispy Treats

Healthy “Reese’s” Quinoa Crispy TreatsCourtesy of Alyssa Rimmer
These Reeses Pieces meets Rice Krispies Treats from the blog Queen of Quinoa are a double treat.

Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant

Quinoa Stuffed EggplantCourtesy of Adventures in Cooking
These stuffed eggplants from the blog Adventures in Cooking make use of simple ingredients that draw out the best in eggplant's flavor, like mint and oregano.

No-Bake Brown Butter Quinoa Bars

No-Bake Brown Butter Quinoa BarsCourtesy of How Sweet It is
From the blog How Sweet It Is, satisfy a dessert craving with no-bake bars filled with quinoa, oats, almonds, flaxseed, and chocolate chips.

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Quinoa Chocolate Chip Zucchini Breakfast Cookies

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Zucchini Breakfast CookiesCourtesy of Healthful Pursuit
From the blog Healthful Pursuit, these vegan and gluten free delights are made with flour, maple syrup, vanilla extract and dairy-free chocolate chips, with added nutrition from quinoa, zucchini, and flaxseed. Quinoa also works well for baking delicious and nutritious breads and muffins.

Sesame Ginger Sweet Teriyaki Salmon with Garlic Quinoa Stir Fry

Sesame Ginger Sweet Teriyaki Salmon with Garlic Quinoa Stir Fry Courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen
The blog Ambitious Kitchen perks up a simple quinoa stir fry with fresh ginger and garlic.

Apple Spice Quinoa Granola

Apple Spice Quinoa GranolaCourtesy of Sally's Baking Addiction
Granola from the blog Sally's Baking Addiction jazzes itself up with quinoa, apples, raisins, and more.

Quinoa Cookie

Quinoa CookieCourtesy of Two Peas and their Pod
In these cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod, the quinoa adds a distinct crunchiness and protein boost.

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