Quinoa for Beginners: Adjusting to the Taste (plus a recipe!)



You have probably seen quinoa in several dishes on Pinterest, maybe heard of it from a vegetarian or even seen it in the store recently.  Quinoa  (pronounced “keen-wah” …. not “keen-oh-ah” like I originally thought) is among the world’s healthiest foods.  It is considered a whole grain and has history dating back to the Incas in South America as a staple food in their diet.  Full of nutrition, quinoa is high in fiber, minerals and b vitamins.  It also has a high protein content, making it great for vegetarians and vegans.  Quinoa is also low glycemic and gluten-free, making it a great grain for those with special diets.  


high protein pasta alternative
photo via Google.com


Recently I bought my first package of quinoa.  My husband had a heart attack at 26 so we are doing everything we can to change our eating habits.  If you have no idea where to find quinoa – you might see it in the rice aisle at the grocery store.  Health food or natural food stores may even sell it in bulk.  

After buying the quinoa, I will admit, I had no idea what I was going to do with it.  After browsing online recipes, I found out that you can cook it similarly to rice and add Alfredo sauce.  I followed the directions on the package and cooked up the quinoa.  It was pretty easy!  Just measure the amount of quinoa you want to make and add twice the amount of water.  Bring the quinoa/water to a boil, then put on low heat until the quinoa has soaked up all of the water.  The quinoa will swell to about twice its original size.  I do suggest stirring it as it cooks or it may cook a bit unevenly, leaving a few crunchy bites.  

After I cooked the quinoa, I poured Alfredo sauce, a little bit of garlic salt and parmesan cheese (just as we normally do for Alfredo pasta).  I am sure that after a while I could adjust to the flavor but this time I practically had to force down the quinoa.  The “nutty” taste and the texture just were not my thing!  

So what to do, what to do…  I was determined to find a way to incorporate quinoa into my dishes but I had to find a way to adjust to the taste.  A few days after making the quinoa Alfredo dish, I was making myself some macaroni and cheese.  I thought to myself, “wow, this is horrible for me” yet I fixed it anyways.   Poor decision on behalf of my health, I know.  So, in attempt to make up for it, I also cooked some quinoa separately to save for later and try again.  Then it crossed my mind to add some to the macaroni and cheese.  Duh!  A combination of the two might be more bearable than quinoa by itself!  The quinoa took just a minute or two longer to cook than the macaroni noodles so it was perfect timing.  Be sure to check out the recipe below.  Anyways…guess what!  I was right, it was actually more bearable to eat quinoa this way!  I could actually stand to eat it this time without forcing myself.  I even felt full quicker than I normally would when eating macaroni because of the protein content of quinoa.  

So for those of you looking to eat quinoa but are overwhelmed by the idea or taste of it by itself, try adding it to dishes you already eat.  Just cook up a small amount, put it in your fridge and add a little bit when you eat.  It could be added to oatmeal, pasta and rice dishes.  It can also be baked into recipes such as Cinnamon Quinoa Bake or added to parfaits like this Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Parfait.   Remember the health benefits of quinoa and give it a try.  You might just like it!  




Quinoa Macaroni & Cheese Blend Recipe



1 box of macaroni and cheese 

1/4 cup of quinoa

1/2 cup of water


Cooking instructions:

1. Cook macaroni as box instructs.  

2. Add quinoa and water to a separate pot.  Bring to a boil then change to a low heat.  Continue to cook quinoa until it soaks up all water while stirring occasionally.  

3. Add cooked quinoa to macaroni.  

4. Enjoy!  




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