Monday, August 1, 2011

Health Food Conquest: Quinoa Take Two

Confession time...

So remember how I said I was going to try and come up with some new recipes for generic "health foods" that most people are terrified of? Well I really did mean to, but after posting that last quinoa recipe, (with roasted veggies, parmesan cheese and basil) I got a litte sidetracked. Not because I ran out of ideas I just...well it turns out I am so in love with my last recipe, I haven't tried it any other away! I've made minor adjustments here and there, like adding butternut squash or sweet potatoes instead of zucchini, and it's all golden. Honestly, I eat quinoa now probably a good 4 days a week because I'm absolutely in love with it. It's incredibly filling and when cooked correctly, it tastes fantastic.

Oh and a sidenote? I've lost 2 pounds.

However, I promised you all multiple ways of trying this healthy ingredient, and so far I haven't delivered.

So tonight, folks, I'm delivering.

I'm officially having a quinoa cookoff, and my roommates are my judging panel. You'll be happy to know that none of them are health fanatics, and prior to this taste testing they already had their fair share of leftover pizza washed down with a beer or two (to "cleanse the palatte", of course). The recipes were rated on the following scale:

1 - Eww, oh my god, horsesh*t in my mouth.
2 - Better than horsesh*t but I'm still pissed you made me eat it.
3 - Health food
4 - Eh, Okay. I'll eat it, but I'm not impressed.
5 - Okay I kind of really like this.
6 - Really friggin' good.
7 - Move your standing in my way of seconds.
Shall we get started?

Roasted Corn Salsa Quinoa

Without the quinoa, this makes a fantastic dry salsa recipe, but add the quinoa and you have more of a sidedish.This is awesome served in a tortilla as a typical salsa/rice substitute. I fill my tortilla with roasted veggies (I use zucchini and red peppers), black or pinto beans, some roasted corn salsa quinoa and a scoop of greek yogurt. Sounds wierd, I know, but try it. Just once.You can do it, and it's worth it.

1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup water
1 cob of corn (roasted)
1/4 red onion
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 a jalepeno, seeds removed (or 1/2 mini can diced jalepeno)
red wine vinegar (to taste)
lime juice (to taste, I barely used 1/4 a lime)
garlic salt
mesquite seasoning (basically some kind of steak seasoning that contains cumin)

Cook the quinoa according to the directions, using chicken stock and water instead of just water. Mix water, stock and quinoa together in small saucepan, bring to boil, turn down heat, cover and simmer for roughly 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it. Should end up fluffy, like rice. Set aside.

Roast the cob of corn on the grill. Personally, I just grill a cob of corn until the kernals slightly char, but here's a better way if you have the patience: bend the husks back and remove the silk, brush the corn with butter, pull the husks back up and grill it, turning until the entire outside is slightly charred. Let it cool slightly (easier to handle) remove the husks and stand it up on one end. Take a knife, and run it down the sides, cutting off all the little kernals. Go slow, or the kernals fly everywhere. (Or if you're really a clean freak, take a small bowl and turn it upside down in a larger bowl. Stand the corn cob on the bottom of the smaller bowl and cut the kernals off, they should fall right into the larger bowl. Less mess!)

Dice the red onion and cilantro, and add it to the corn, along with the fire roated tomatoes and jalepenos. Add barely a bit of red wine vinegar and barely a bit of lime juice. Season with garlic salt, pepper and mesquite seasoning to taste. Done!

Makes 1 serving: 280 calories

Verdict: Two 5/7's and one 6/7. So a couple 'okay I kind of really like this' and one 'really friggin good'. I'll take that!

I think the ingredients put them off a bit in the beginning (it put me off too to be honest) but they ended up giving it pretty good reviews. However, they did all unanimously agree that this would be probably be better in enchiladas or burritos as a rice/salsa filler than as a gneral side dish.

Sweet Curried Quinoa

I have no idea where this recipe came from, it was completely out of the box. I know nothing about Indian food, so I really don't even know why I had curry in the house. Nonetheless, there it was, initiating a staredown every time I dared enter the kitchen. And if there's one thing I know it's this; I never, ever, back down from a challenge. Especially when it's issued by a jar of curry.

1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup water
1/2 Tbsp curry
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/4 cup sliced scallions
garlic salt
onion powder
thai spice mix
cinnamon (optional)

Make the quinoa as I mentioned above, except add the curry, some thai spice mix, cinnamon and a little onion powder (maybe 1/4 tsp? 1/8?) to the stock, water, and quinoa. Set aside.

Dice your scallions and dried apricots, and add to the quinoa along with the slivered almonds. Now add your garlic salt and barely any lemon juice to taste.

Makes 1 serving: 392 calories. This is higher calories, due to the almonds and dried apricots, but they're good calories, so don't stress! Plus the almonds really fill you up, so if your like me, you might not even end up eating a whole serving.

Verdict: One 3/7, one 4/7's and one 5/7 - My boyfriend (3/7) openly admitted he rarely likes anything combining fruits and nuts, but he did try it. My other two roomates weren't super impressed, but still ate it. Maybe not my best, but like I said, not a lot of Indian/Thai food comes through our house.

Greek Quinoa

Back to what I know. Besides the next recipe, this was the favorite.

1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup quartered cooked artichoke hearts (the ones in the can are fine) chopped
~6 pimentos
~5 olives
~8 sundried tomatoes
crumbled feta cheese  (1cubic inch, crumbled)
1 tsp capers
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp greek or mediteranean spice mix
basil, oregano, and parsley to taste
lemon juice to taste

Make the quinoa as previously stated with the vegetable broth and spices. Add remaining ingredients, and wait to salt until you're done. Between the capers and feta cheese, things can get pretty salty. But otherwise, adjust as you want, it's your recipe! My boyfriend likes this one with a bit of chopped pepperoni (which I admit was a brilliant addition), so let your mind run wild!

Makes 1 serving: 412 calories (remember, higher calories are coming from healthy ingredients, like the sundried tomatoes and olives).

Verdict: 6/7 - Everyone seemed to like this one a lot. Especially with the salty capers and feta cheese. I'd mix a little olive oil and lemon juice like a vinagrette and drizzle it over the top, but I didn't here and it still turned out great! Maybe even some fresh basil, but that's just me.

Pesto Cauliflower Quinoa

This one is especially easy, but to make it truly delicious, make your own pesto. I had it with cauliflower one night, and then added broccoli another, but tonight I had only cauliflower in the refrigerator (plus, in general, my roomates are more receptive to cauliflower than broccoli), so that's what I was going with tonight.

1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/3 cup pesto
1 cup chopped cauliflower

Pesto Recipe

Combine in food processor: 1/2 cup pine nuts, 4 cups basil, 2 cloves garlic, 1/3 cup olive oil, and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. Pulse until it looks like pesto. Don't add salt until the very end though, parmesan cheese is pretty salty on it's own so you probably won't need much.

The great thing about pesto is you can adjust it how you want. You can add pistachios or walnuts instead of pine nuts, add some parsley with the basil, or maybe even a touch of mint. Maybe some sundried tomatoes? Do with it what you want! Personally, I probably double the amount of pine nuts, I just love the flavor of them! To make it a little less calorie dense I use low sodium chicken stock to thin it out a little, that way I don't have to add as much olive oil.

So for this recipe, I made the quinoa as listed above and then steamed the cauliflower in a separate pot. Then added them together with a scoop of pesto and tada! Pesto Cauliflower Quinoa.

Makes 1 serving: 440 calories, but once again, the high calorie count is mostly due to the olive oil, nuts, and parmesan cheese.

Verdict: This actually got two 6/7 and one 7/7! It was definitely one of the favorites, with the 7/7 going to the roomate who openly expressed the day before that he would eat anything if pesto was on it. Of course when the pesto is homemade, it sure makes a difference!

Let me know if you try any of these, I'd love to know what you think!

The Not-So-Secret Confessions of a First Time Mom       


  1. The corn and the pesto quinoa sound delish! I am going to most definitely try it. Imam always looking fir some great vegan recipes!

  2. These look really yummy to me...all of them. I love your rating scale.

    Enter my giveaway for a pouch @

  3. Following your blog from the Mom Blog Monday blog hop! :-) Would love to have you follow me back! :-)

  4. Great recipes. Thanks for posting them!

    Hopping over from the Alexa Blog Hop!

    Have a great day!

  5. thanks for visiting my blog. how nice of u sharing recipes. I have yet to try quinoa, my latest new thing was chia seeds, maybe i ll try quinoa next ;-)

  6. These recipes look so interesting and I would try each one of them in a heartbeat, whereas my husband would take one look/smell and walk away. He's a chicken when it comes to trying new foods! Glad you had success for the most part with your new dishes and thanks for linking up to NOBH!


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