6 Simple Ways to Make Quinoa Awesome

Work this fat-burning grain into your diet with easy recipes for healthy cookies, a quinoa smoothie and more!

Quinoa. Even Beyoncé doesn’t manage her public image as brilliantly as this trendy superfood. But even those of us who love Queen Bey can get a little tired of the same song playing over and over again. And we’re pretty tired of hearing about why we should eat quinoa, too.

But still, in a world of superfoods, quinoa stands alone. It’s one of the very few plants that provide a complete source of protein—meaning your body can convert it directly into muscle. It’s also high in the amino acid lysine, which helps you burn fat and maintain healthy bones and skin. And according to a study published in the journal Food Chemistry, quinoa has the highest levels of betaine, a chemical that revs your metabolism and actually shuts down the genes that encourage belly fat storage.

But there are only so many bland, beige dinners of chicken breast and quinoa that a person can stand. So here are 6 easy ways to make these tender pearls of nutrition into something more fun.

To start, here is the best way to cook these nutty tasting, tender pearls of protein:

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Rinse quinoa thoroughly to remove bitter-tasting coating (whisk it around in a cold water bath until soapy residue comes off the grain, then put quinoa in a sieve and rinse clean). Bring water to a boil, add quinoa, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, leave lid on, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Add to your favorite recipe.

 

1) Crunchy Buttery Maple Quinoa Granola (with chocolate)

2 cups oats (not instant)
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
¼ cut toasted almonds (sliced or not)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple syrup
½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

—In a large bowl stir together oats, quinoa, flaxseed, almonds, and cinnamon. Set aside.
—Melt butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add honey, vanilla, and maple syrup.
—Pour butter mixture over the oats and combine until all of the oats, grains, nuts, and seeds are covered evenly.
—Spread mixture over baking sheet and place in oven for 10 minutes. Stir mixture, spread it out even again and place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat until the mixture is dark golden. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then mix in chocolate chips. Spread the mixture out again and let it cool completely.

Adapted from How Sweet It Is

 

READ MORE: 5 Best Carbs for Your Abs

 

2) Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cooked quinoa (cooled)
½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup butter (softened, room temp)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips

—Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
—Pour flour, baking soda, and baking powder into medium bowl and whisk to combine.
—Beat together butter, sugars, and honey until the mixture lightens in color and gets fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then vanilla and keep beating until the color becomes pale and the mixture is very fluffy.
—Fold flour mixture into butter mixture a half a cup at a time, folding lightly until just combined. Fold in cooked, cooled quinoa and chocolate chips until just combined.
—Place half-inch balls of cookie dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 112 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on rack and enjoy!

Adapted from Bob’s Red Mill

 

3) Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberry Quinoa Crumble

Panna Cotta:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon water
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
One vanilla bean
1 cup buttermilk

Quinoa Crumble:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/8 cup quinoa flakes
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks

— In a small bowl, mix the gelatin with the water and let it stand until softened, about 5 minutes.
— Combine milk and sugar in small saucepan, bring to a simmer. While it heats, slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the insides into the milk mixture. (It’ll look a little grainy, but don't worry. It will break up as you continue.) Cook until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin until dissolved.
— In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the yogurt then add the warm milk and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into 4 8oz cup (only fill halfway) and refrigerate for 3 hrs until set.
— While panna cotta is cooling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the oats, quinoa flakes, almond flour, sugar, and nutmeg in a food processor and pulse several times to combine (do not over mix). Add the cold butter, and pulse until the butter is evenly combined and the mixture is crumbly.
—Spread mixture evenly on parchment-covered baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Stir and bake for another 10 minutes until dark golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
—Remove cooled panna cotta from refrigerator, cover in layer of sliced strawberries, and top with crumble mixture.

Adapted from The New American Diet

 

READ MORE: 6 Best Spices for Weight Loss

 

4) Keen-Whaaa? Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup cooked green lentils
¼ cup chopped sundried tomatoes
¼ cup store-bought pesto
1 tablespoon apple cider vinaigrette

—Preheat the oven to 450 F
—Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook until gently browned and softened, about 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
—In a large mixing bowl, combine the quinoa with the lentils, asparagus, and sundried tomatoes. Mix together the pesto and vinaigrette, then add it to the bowl of quinoa. Toss to combine.

 

5) Breakfast Smoothie with Toasted Quinoa
2 tablespoons quinoa
½ avocado
½ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
½ cup frozen blueberries

— Rinse quinoa and transfer to a saute pan on medium heat. Whisk the quinoa around the pan until it starts popping and releases a nutty aroma and the grains turn brown. You can cover the pan so you don’t lose too many as they pop!
— Put avocado, yogurt, maple syrup and blueberries in blender and blend until smooth. — Sprinkle quinoa on top and enjoy!

 

READ MORE: 4 Best Zero Belly Smoothies

 

6) Baked Apples stuffed with Quinoa
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoons butter
4 firm red apples (fiji, red delicious, gala)

—Preheat oven to 350 degrees
—Combine quinoa, maple syrup, brown sugar cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
— Halve apples from stem to bottom and scoop out the core and seeds. Fill apple halves with quinoa mixture, and top with a ¼ tablespoon of butter. Place in baking dish and pour ¾ cup of boiling water in the bottom of baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover apples, and bake 15 minutes until apples are soft and tops begin to crisp.
—Top with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

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