Category Archives: Quinoa

Favorite Processed Food Substitutions

The fact that you are continuing to read my posts is a good sign. I hope congratulations are in order because you have either decided to eat clean, or are at least seriously considering it.

The Challenge

If you have started, there is a good chance you will run into the following challenge:

You decide to “eat clean” and do pretty well as you enjoy new recipes made with fresh, natural foods. Then, you start missing your favorite processed foods. You manage the cravings pretty well, but packing a lunch is hard when making sandwiches with your old time friend, white bread, isn’t an option . . . and how are you supposed to go without your favorite pasta dish?

Don’t give up – or give in . . . find some favorite processed foods substitutions.

Pasta

Since eating clean usually cuts out any and all pasta – what can you use instead?

Below are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Brown rice
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • “Miracle Noodles” which can be purchased online and in some health food stores.
    • These are mushroom based and usually come packed in water. To me, not a great choice because they are a bit of an acquired taste.
  • Squash and zucchini as a pasta replacement are at the top of my list. Use a spiralizer, a veggie peeper, or a knife to cut pasta shapes from the squash.
    • You can eat it raw, or cook it in a dry skillet until your mock pasta is al dente.
    • Serve with our favorite clean pasta sauce or top it with tomatoes cooked in olive oil and garlic.

Breads

Image by andresr
Image by andresr

This may be one of the most challenging changes, but it can be done.

You may have to start making your own bread products. I switched to whole wheat flour some time ago, and frankly cannot tell the difference any more.

Check out the Clean Eating Grocery List For Beginners, which is where I found the following list to help you make the change:

    • Whole wheat flour
    • Whole wheat pastry flour – tough to find in some areas, but great for baking
    • White whole wheat flour – Easier to find but not as dense as regular whole wheat flour. (It’s a different variety of wheat, but it’s still whole grain
    • Coconut flour
    • Almond flour
    • Quinoa flour
    • Other flours – These are for gluten-free diets. If this is necessary for you, research other flours on gluten free sites.

You can also bake tasty gluten-free baked treats using eggs, and flax seed or almond meal. A quick Google search will reveal all kinds of quick and easy recipes to try.

Another alternative is to give up bread altogether (which is not a choice I have been willing to make, but some people do). If that is your choice and are wondering how you can prepare a tasty portable lunch without break, wraps are perfect alternative. All you need are a large, crisp lettuce or cabbage leaf and your favorite “filling” to create your favorite clean sandwiches. You can make great wraps that hold your clean sandwich filling very nicely.

Packaged Breakfast Cereal

If cold cereal is your breakfast of choice, I have two yummy suggestions.

  • Try a bowl of fruit and chopped nuts topped with a little almond milk or fresh raw milk (with cream). I think you will find it much tastier than that same old bowl of corn flakes. Keep the ingredients ready in the fridge for a quick and easy breakfast.
  • One of my favorites is Overnight Oatmeal. Follow the link and create your own – using only clean ingredients, of course.

Of course, you can always create wonderful omelets or quick scrambled eggs topped with avocado, tomatoes, and finely diced onions. Cage-free eggs are an excellent choice for breakfast and will keep you full for hours.

Take-out Pizza

This one is really going to stretch your imagination – pizza crust made from cauliflower. It takes some work and slightly messy to eat, but it hits the spot when you are craving a piece of pizza.

You can also make individual-sized pizzas with clean corn tortillas. Check out the clean tortillas at Trader Joe’s. The only ingredients should be corn, lime and water. You may also want to try their sprouted wheat tortilla that is clean and quite good once you get used to the texture. The tortillas are a bit stiffer than the norm. 

Of course, you could make your own. I’m told it’s not really difficult – but I have never done it myself.

Handle the cravings

You will have them, no doubt about it. When one hits or you feel like giving up and calling it quits because you are missing your old favorites so much, STOP, BREATHE, and do a SEARCH on Google. There are amazing clean food recipes out there for almost anything you can think of.

High-Nutrition Comfort Foods

Everyone grows up with their own personal comfort foods. These provide consolation when we are sad or a feeling of well-being when we are discouraged or “blue” and are typically associated with home-cooking and childhood. They make us feel warm and cozy the way a warm blanket feels fresh out of the dryer and emotionally transport us back through the years.

Eating our favorites can be a lovely way to relax after a particularly difficult day; but, because of their typically high sugar or carbohydrate content, they are not necessarily healthy.

The good news is that we can change all of that so you can continue to enjoy your favorites and make them healthy at the same time. Simply start packing in the nutrients by incorporating quinoa into your classic comfort foods – start creating your very own high-nutrition comfort foods that your family will love even more.

By using quinoa you not only add nutrition, but you also add delightful new flavors and textures.

To introduce this concept, let’s work with three of the most common comfort foods. We will add quinoa to each of them to create a new tasty version of these all time favorites.

Mac and Cheese

Image by vankad
Image by vankad

This is probably at or near the top of everyone’s comfort food list – especially for the youngsters. When it is well-prepared (sometimes even it is not), most kids gobble it up and ask for more.

Stuffing your children with white flour macaroni and pre-packaged cheese filled with additives is not an ideally healthy dish. Even if you boost the nutrition with whole wheat or spinach macaroni and natural cheeses, you can do better.

Gold quinoa has the perfect texture to mix into a batch of mac and cheese. As the cheese melts, it engulfs the tiny protein-packed seeds and no one even knows it is there. Its protein richness is buried in cheesy goodness.

If you prefer baked mac and cheese, be sure to slightly under-cook the quinoa to keep it from over cooking during the 30-minutes of baking.

You will be absolutely delighted with the crunchy texture and nutty taste that quinoa adds to your recipe. Be prepared for the first bite – it is  heaven!

For even more crunch, add a buttery bread crumb or toasted almond meal mixed with cooked red quinoa as a topping. Both toppings add a finished look to the casserole and the red quinoa topping adds extra nutritional value to this very popular comfort food.

Casseroles and Pot Pies

Every cook has a few casseroles that they make over and over again, such as Scalloped Potatoes and Ham, Green Bean Casserole, Chicken and Rice, or Chicken Divan – all are perfect choices for adding quinoa into the mix.

Casseroles are typically blended ingredients with some kind of rich, thick sauce, which make them ideal for adding quinoa. It not only adds texture and flavor, it also helps bind everything together.

Members of my family always fight over the crunchy corner pieces with the crispy edges. When you add quinoa, you will delight the family with crunchy all the way through – not just on the edges.

Adding quinoa to the mix for pot pies works the same way because they are simply mini-casseroles.

Pot pies are the perfect place to test your skill at using quinoa and discovering its unique and surprising qualities. As you take that first delicious bite, your taste buds will squeal with pleasure as you savor the creamy, yet crispy texture with a yummy nutty flavor.

Meatloaf

If you grew up in an American household, you undoubtedly had some variation of meatloaf as one of your family standards. Regardless of the ingredients, meatloaf is a combination of ground meat (protein), binders (crackers/bread crumbs), moisture (eggs/milk/catsup), and spices.

There is a chance that for some of you the dish was relatively flavorless except for the catsup that you spread on top. When you add quinoa, you not only add an interesting flavor in addition to the meat and spices, the meatloaf will bind together much better and not collapse into a crumbly heap.

For those who are on gluten-free diets, a handful of quinoa is a great substitute for the typical binders – flour, crackers or bread crumbs.

Quinoa is the perfect ingredient to change this simple, budget-wise family dinner into a tasty, nutritional powerhouse.

By adding quinoa to your family’s favorite comfort foods, you increase their taste profile, give dinners a nutritional boost, while adding a delightfully different texture to some of their most loved dinners.

 

Enjoy Quinoa Hot or Cold

Quinoa can be used in many dishes and in many different ways. It can also be eaten hot or cold – both are delicious and nutritious.

Because of its versatility and health benefits, it should become a staple in your kitchen. Always have this nutrient-filled seed available in your pantry.

For the fun of it, let’s look at a few hot and cold ways to prepare this delicious ancient food.

Let’s Make It Hot

Image by charlotteLake

There is nothing quite like a satisfying, hot meal to fill the tummy and warm the heart. As we have discussed in previous posts, quinoa is an excellent substitute for almost any rice dish. But, don’t forget that it also stands on its own merits as the main ingredient for main-course meals.

A wonderful way to start the day is with creamy hot quinoa. You cook it much the same way as you would oatmeal. Add a little honey or brown sugar, milk or cream, and serve with or without dried or fresh fruit.

Dinner meals with quinoa are very easy – just use your imagination. Create a jambalaya dish with tomatoes, sausage, shrimp and spices. Cooked this way, it is a rice replacement that becomes the main focus of the dish with the other ingredients added for flavor.

Finally – quinoa is outstanding for baking. You can use fluffy cooked quinoa, quinoa flour, or quinoa meal.

  • Gluten-free quinoa flour is an excellent substitute for regular wheat flour.
  • Quinoa meal is a good choice if you want a grainier, heartier product.
  • Fluffy, cooked quinoa can be added to muffins and breads – it adds protein and a nice, light texture.

Let’s Make It Cold

Image by ildi
Image by ildi

Cold quinoa recipes are equally as delicious as the hot ones. The versatility and qualities that quinoa brings to cold dishes is almost unmatched in the culinary world.

With chilled quinoa dishes, you can have a world-class dining experience without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. Using chilled, cooked quinoa, you can enjoy dishes ranging from stuffed grape leaves to a sweet cucumber Thai salad. The possibilities are endless.

For your next buffet or potluck dinner, have fun with your guests. Let them create their own unique culinary experience by serving a large bowl of chilled quinoa with a variety of spices and additional ingredients in small side dishes.

Cold quinoa desserts range from Creamy Quinoa Pudding (similar to rice pudding, but with quinoa, of course) to Dark Chocolate Quinoa Truffles to Quinoa Pumpkin Muffins Recipe with Cream Cheese Filling and Streusel Topping.

You will be blown away at the variety of taste delights that can be made to please friends, family, and guests.

You may even run into some chefs who are experimenting quinoa in their sushi and other traditional Asian dishes.

Try adding a few tablespoons of chilled, cooked quinoa in your smoothies or blend with your favorite fresh juice.

Yummy Food Adventures

Regardless of whether you choose to enjoy quinoa hot or cold, you have many options. Have and explore and experiment with new ways to prepare and use quinoa. Now that I have given you some ideas of ways to use quinoa, start with some of your favorite recipes and add or substitute quinoa into the mix.

Not only will your family favorites get a new kick, you may actually stumble onto the next great food discovery and become famous!

Because there is so much protein packed into each tiny seed, it is no wonder people are substituting quinoa in so many of their favorite dishes and drinks.

But, the bottom line is that quinoa is just plain yummy. Grab a package today and start experimenting NOW!

Quick Classic Meals with Quinoa

When you cook your first batch of quinoa, you may end up with a mountain of it sitting in your fridge, which is not uncommon. No one ever expects a small amount of dry quinoa to make so much. As a result, it is very easy to cook far more than you need for your first quinoa meal.

However, this is actually a good thing. This delicious, protein-packed tiny seed will quickly become one of your go-to staples. It is easy to plan several meals in advance and prepare quick classic meals with quinoa in a matter of minutes when you have plenty of cooked quinoa on hand.

For busy people who are dedicated to serving nutritious meals, but have limited time to do so, having quinoa cooked and ready in the refrigerator is a definite plus. By following a few simple and basic steps, you can quickly transform quinoa into healthy, classic meals for your family.

Let’s look at some of your choices for quick classic meals with quinoa:

Salads

Image by charlotteLake
Image by charlotteLake

Quinoa is wonderful in salads. Because of its chewy yet crunchy texture it is a new and interesting contrast to more common salad ingredients.

One thing I like to do is warm-up the quinoa and mix with cold ingredients such as cooked shrimp, avocado, and onions.

For an even easier, quick dinner, just add fresh salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and any other veggies you enjoy. You can even toss in left-over chunks of roasted chicken for non-vegetarians, then sprinkle with a tasty vinaigrette. In a few short minutes you have a fresh and colorful meal in a bowl. A slice of warm, crusty French bread with real butter finishes it off beautifully.

Another option is a salad without the greens. Mix the quinoa with garbanzo beans, avocado, and red onion. Top with a light drizzle of the juice of one lime and high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. This hearty salad makes a full meal in itself. This is the type of salad that can be made from ingredients already in your kitchen – making it a nutritious meal that can be tossed together on days when there is so little time.

Enhance the Basic Breakfast

With quinoa you can create a high-powered protein pick-me-up from a basic breakfast. You can either add quinoa to your oatmeal or replace the oatmeal completely. The protein will give your metabolism a jump start and keep it going all day.

Scoop a nice-sized serving of cooked quinoa in a bowl, add a little raw milk, honey and a dash of cinnamon and enjoy a creamy breakfast treat. You can also add a few slices of banana, fresh blueberries or diced strawberries. Either of these takes less time that it does to prepare instant oatmeal and both are more nutritious.

If your family is like mine and loves breakfast muffins, Use your imagination and whip up a batch with quinoa. It adds texture and a nice little pop to an ordinary breakfast muffins. If you need ideas and directions Martha Stewart has some great recipes you can try.

Patties of All Kinds

The extra quinoa you have in your fridge can used to make healthy delicious patties for any meal. The only limit is your imagination.

  • For breakfast – Try mixing cooked quinoa, leftover corn-on-the-cob (cut off, of course) and eggs. Or mix with finely chopped onions, green peppers, fried lightly in a little butter and served with your eggs.
  • For lunch – Combine cooked quinoa in a bowl with eggs, garlic, onions, Parmesan cheese, and some bread crumbs. Form into patties and cook for a nutrition-dense lunch.
  • For dinner – Make Southwestern-flavored patties with onions, garlic, and chili powder to go with your Fajitas or serve with black beans for a vegetarian-style dinner

Risotto

Risotto is a popular creamy, rich-tasting rice dish. It can also be made with quinoa for a lighter, but still creamy, nutritious version of this popular Italian comfort food.

This is a classic choice for your supply of cooked quinoa. Simmer the cooked quinoa slowly in broth, adding additional broth (a ladle at a time). Stir continuously until broth is completely absorbed. Add chopped chives, Parmesan cheese, and butter to the creamy mixture for a delicious quinoa risotto that even the pickiest eater will appreciate.

Sweet Treat

This may be a surprise, but quinoa makes a wonderful substitute for old-fashioned rice pudding dessert. Use your favorite recipes for this traditional dessert and simply replace the rice with cooked quinoa. It is sweet, delicious and filled with nutrients.

Cook Ahead

Cook a big batch of quinoa and keep it on hand in the fridge. It is a great basic food to keep at your fingertips for quick and easy preparation of nutritious meals.

When you are faced with the question, “What should I fix for dinner (or lunch or breakfast)?” you don’t have to go far. With a little creative thinking, you can turn a mountain of cooked quinoa into a culinary creations for any meal that will please the entire family.

Choose Gluten-free Quinoa

Gluten intolerance can be a serious problem and requires a change in diet for stricken individuals in order to live healthy lives.

To make this health issue easier to understand – gluten is a protein ‘glue’ composite found in most grains. Gluten gives dough elasticity and creates problems in the digestive tract of some people.

Image by TLFurrer
Image by TLFurrer

The official name for gluten intolerance is Celiac Disease. If you have this condition and eat foods that contain gluten, the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed and eventually damaged. The inflamation makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, which leads to malnutrition and weight loss.

Because of the seriousness of this condition, it is important to transition to a gluten-free diet, which can be challenging since grains of all kinds are used in many, many products found at the supermarket. Fortunately, today, there are many gluten-free products available and among those is one very shiny star – gluten-free quinoa.

When you understand the composition of quinoa, it is easy to understand why it is a good alternative for wheat and other grains.

Quinoa is a seed, which makes its structure completely different than grain and it contains no gluten.

There is also no reason to be concerned about cross-contamination from air-borne wheat or other grains. The world’s quinoa supply is primarily grown in Bolivia at an elevation of over 12,000 feet, where gluten-bearing grains cannot be grown. There is absolutely no danger of cross-contamination.

Why Quinoa Is a Good Gluten-free Choice

  • Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein
  • It seems to be easier for the body to digest than most other plant-based proteins. It has a similar protein structure to milk, which the bodies utilizes well. Milk intolerance is typically from the lactose content – not from the protein structure.
  • Quinoa protein is excellent fuel for the body to keep it going strong.
  • It is a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6, the essential fatty acids our bodies and brains needs to function correctly.
  • It is also a rich source of Vitamin E, antioxidants, folate, and B vitamins.
  • It is high in manganese and magnesium – two minerals that are important for a healthy immune system and used to synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol.
  • It has increased levels of iron and copper, which are critical for a healthy blood supply.
  • Finally, quinoa contains phosphorus, zinc, and a little calcium.

Challenges of a Gluten-free Diet

A big challenge is limiting the intake of carbohydrates because of the heavy use of rice as a replacement for wheat products. This is where quinoa can be of value.

A cup of cooked white rice has 44 net grams of carbs (carbs minus dietary fiber.) A cup of cooked brown rice has 41 net grams of carbs. When you compare this to a cup of cooked quinoa at about 34 net grams of carbs, eating quinoa makes good sense; plus, you are getting the benefit of the additional nutrients (especially the protein) found in quinoa that rice does not contain.

In Summary

There are many reasons to make quinoa your “go-to” food on your gluten-free diet beginning with boosting your nutrition by increasing the protein, healthy fats, and maintaining a healthy blood supply – plus reducing your carbohydrate intake

Making the transition to a gluten-free diet can be easy when you choose quinoa as a staple in your diet.