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8 New Ways to Enjoy Quinoa That You May Not Have Tried

author image Morena Escardo
Morena Escardó is the author of "Detox Juicing: 3-Day, 7-Day, and 14-Day Cleanses for your Health and Well-being," and "The Everything Peruvian Cookbook." In her blog, Peru Delights, she focuses on her country’s superfoods, and creates healthy alternatives to traditional dishes. She is training to become a holistic health coach.

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8 New Ways to Enjoy Quinoa That You May Not Have Tried
Have you tried this nutritional powerhouse? Photo Credit: los_angela/iStock/GettyImages

Because of its great nutritional value — and its compatibility with dietary restrictions — quinoa is being considered by NASA as food for astronauts on long-duration space flights. Quinoa is a complete protein, so it's a wonderful addition to vegetarian or vegan diets. And it’s gluten-free, so it’s a lifesaver for those with dietary restrictions. With its mild flavor and versatile texture, quinoa looks, feels and tastes like a grain. This makes it an ideal ingredient if you are looking to replace grains in your recipes. You can use quinoa instead of rice or couscous in pilafs, risottos and salad or in place of wheat flour in baking. It will even stand in for oatmeal as a hot breakfast cereal. Check out the next slides to see eight healthy ways to enjoy quinoa.

1. Healthy Quinoa Bars
Make your own granola bars. Photo Credit: Mizina/iStock/GettyImages

1 Healthy Quinoa Bars

Energy bars (a.k.a. protein bars) are popular snacks these days. Many enthusiasts may not realize, however, that some of these so-called health foods are packed with sugar, preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients. So if you reach for a pre-packaged energy bar when a mid-morning craving kicks in, you may not get the energy boost you’re expecting. The solution: Make your own energy bars at home. Preparing protein bars from scratch gives you total control over what goes into them. These quinoa bars are a great option, since the quinoa, tahini, coconut oil and nuts are full of healthy fats and protein that will help you stay energized and on top of your game throughout the day.

Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** Healthy Quinoa Bars

2. Sprouted Quinoa Milk
Not all milk comes from cows. Photo Credit: marekuliasz/iStock/GettyImages

2 Sprouted Quinoa Milk

Not all milk substitutes are created equal, but if you make them at home, you're in control of the ingredients. Almond and soy milk are the most common milk substitutes, but your repertoire of milks can include a varied range of ingredients. Walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, oats, rice, sesame seeds and flax seeds are some possible options. Quinoa should also be on this list. This super seed normally needs to be cooked, but you can avoid this step and make it more digestible if you sprout it first before turning it into milk. Sprouting quinoa also makes it slightly sweet, ideal to be enjoyed as milk.

Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** Sprouted Quinoa Milk

3. Savory Vegetable Quinoa Flan
It's kind of like a quiche. Photo Credit: iko636/iStock/GettyImages

3 Savory Vegetable Quinoa Flan

The basic recipe for flan can be used to make all kinds of dishes, from yummy caramel-covered desserts to healthy and delicious savory entrees — like this vegetable quinoa flan. You only need to follow two steps, and it requires just a few ingredients. You can use any combination of vegetables you like, so if you buy seasonal produce, you can have a seasonal dish year-round using the same recipe and simply changing the veggies. You can even use frozen vegetables, if that’s more convenient for you. Serve it with a salad on the side, and you'll have a light yet extremely nutritious (and delicious) meal on the table with very little effort.

Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** Savory Vegetable Quinoa Flan

4. Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes
Indulgences don't have to wreck your diet. Photo Credit: bhofack2/iStock/GettyImages

4 Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes

If you're looking for a dessert that can be made even when you feel lazy, you just found it. These quinoa chocolate cupcakes have a light, spongy texture and a very delicate taste — not too sweet, not too chocolaty. Making them only requires two bowls and 10 minutes, with another 20 minutes in the oven. Keep in mind that this recipe calls for quinoa flour instead of cooked or raw quinoa seeds, so you need to plan ahead if you don’t usually have quinoa flour in your pantry. These little quinoa cupcakes make a wonderful sweet treat for people who suffer from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Add some dried coconut and cranberries or pecans and chocolate chips for different variations.

Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes

5. Quinoa and Amaranth Supercharged Breakfast
Breakfast is served! Photo Credit: VeselovaElena/iStock/GettyImages

5 Quinoa and Amaranth Supercharged Breakfast

Eating something warm in the morning turns your body on from the inside out, and gets you ready for the day Think of it as warming up a car’s engine after a cold night outside. That’s one reason why a bowl of hot oatmeal is a beloved breakfast staple around the world. But you don’t have to limit yourself to oats. Quinoa will also warm and comfort you when eaten hot and slightly moist. Its taste is mild and welcomes most flavor and texture additions, including spices, honey, maple or carob syrup, dried fruits and flax seeds, as in this recipe. The best part about eating quinoa for breakfast is that it keeps your blood sugar levels stable throughout the morning, which means fewer cravings, more energy, a balanced mood and a clear mind.

Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** Quinoa and Amaranth Supercharged Breakfast

6. Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
You won't even miss the meat. Photo Credit: fotogal/iStock/GettyImages

6 Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

Chili is traditionally made with beef, although there are many popular variations, such as chicken chili and vegetarian chili. Vegetable chili, made with only beans, veggies and perhaps some vegetarian meat subsitute, is now a staple in most meat-free kitchens. And for good reason! This Mexican-inspired vegetarian quinoa chili has so much flavor thanks to the vegetables, chili peppers and spices. It’s satisfying — even for the most passionate meat-eaters.

Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

7. Coconut and Pineapple Quinoa Pudding
Try this delicious dessert. Photo Credit: peredniankina/iStock/GettyImages

7 Coconut and Pineapple Quinoa Pudding

Rice pudding is a beloved dessert in many cultures. Several countries claim it as their own, although its origin may be tracked back to the Arabs (perhaps the greatest sugar experts in history), who then spread it to new lands. Whoever came up with the idea for rice pudding must’ve been a comfort-food genius. Few things are as soothing as a cup of warm, homemade rice pudding. In a way, this is the perfect dessert: It’s extremely simple, yet it never gets old. Of course, a little change every now and then is still welcome. Our variation: Replace the rice with quinoa. This also brings down the dessert’s glycemic index, making it healthier.

Recipe & Nutritional Info**:** Coconut and Pineapple Quinoa Pudding

8. Quinoa Tabbouleh
Use quinoa instead of couscous. Photo Credit: nata_vkusidey/iStock/GettyImages

8 Quinoa Tabbouleh

Perhaps the most common use for quinoa these days is to cook it and add it to salads, just as you would add rice, orzo or couscous. A cup of cooked quinoa brings texture to any salad and makes it more filling. If you use different kinds of quinoa, you can add fun colors to it, too. But there’s one salad in particular where quinoa fits so perfectly it almost feels like it’s part of the original dish: tabbouleh. This Middle Eastern salad is usually made with bulgur wheat, but it’s now often made with couscous. Both of these ingredients resemble quinoa in many ways, so the Andean seed is a natural substitution.

Recipe & Nutritional Info: Quinoa Tabbouleh

What Do YOU Think?
Tell us what you think! Photo Credit: VeselovaElena/iStock/GettyImages

What Do YOU Think?

Have you tried quinoa? Why or why not? Do you like its flavor and texture? Which of these recipes are you most likely to try? Do you have other ways you enjoy quinoa that we missed? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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