A few friends have asked me recently, “What do I do with quinoa?!” Even quinoa’s name is intimidating, right? (It’s pronounced “keen-wah,” if you’re wondering) But, in reality, it’s not that difficult to make and is well worth the effort.
Quinoa is a good source of protein; one cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein. This makes it a great substitute for pasta, as well as a good supplement to help other more expensive proteins (like meat) stretch further.
The most important thing to know about cooking quinoa is that you need to rinse it before cooking it in order to remove the natural and bitter-flavored coating, saponin. It tastes much better if you rinse first!
So, rinse it and then cook it similarly to how you’d make rice:
- Add 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water into a saucepan.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook about 10-15 minutes until all water is absorbed.
- When quinoa is done cooking, it looks soft and translucent with the outer ring of the grain separated.
The options are nearly endless for quinoa — you can use this as a side to your favorite meat, a topping for salads, or just add some olive oil and parmesan as a healthier (and more filling) pasta substitute.
One of our favorite quinoa recipes is quinoa-oatmeal, inspired by a Trader Joe’s frozen breakfast option. Their version is frozen in single servings with maple syrup mixed in. You could freeze your version in muffin tins and then transfer them to a ziploc bag. But, we go through a lot in one week, so I just mix up a big batch at the beginning of the week and eat it a few mornings throughout. To make this:
- Cook up one batch of quinoa as above.
- Cook a double batch of Irish steel cut oats according to package directions (For our package, that means 8 cups water and 2 cups of steel cut oats. About 5 minutes after the water and oats start boiling, the oats will thicken. Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for about 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s your desired consistency.)
- Mix the cooked quinoa and oats together. Top with maple syrup, brown sugar, or whatever other favorite oatmeal toppings. Enjoy!
What are your favorite easy and healthy breakfast options?