4 Ways to Eat Quinoa -- and Not Hate It!

quinoa saladEvery healthy-eating article these days recommends quinoa as a gluten-free, protein-rich, nutrient-packed healthy grain. But when you tried to make some the other night, it came out tasting like sand -- except way more bland. Here's my advice: Don't give up on quinoa! It has enormous flavor potential; you just have to add the right stuff.

Check out these four tasty recipes -- all using quinoa -- if you can believe it!


1. Hot Quinoa Breakfast

You can find quinoa flakes at Whole Foods and most health foods stores. They cook up similar to instant oatmeal but have a much finer texture. Just add 1 cup boiling water to 1/3 cup quinoa flakes and stir until it thickens. I like to add honey, dried cranberries, and chopped walnuts for flavor. It's a great way to get your protein in the morning without getting too full.

2. Grape & Quinoa Salad

You can make a batch of this light, refreshing salad on the weekends (it makes a ton!) and eat it for lunch with a piece of fruit throughout the week.

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled 
  • 1 to 2 cups red or green grapes, cut in half 
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds 
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion 
  • 1/4 cup canola oil 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix quinoa, grapes, almonds, and green onion in a bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, and sugar. Pour over quinoa, stir to combine, and chill 30 minutes.

3. Quinoa Tabbouleh (from The Kitchn)

This simple side salad would go great with chicken or with pita and grilled Mediterranean vegetables (peppers, eggplant, etc.).

  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch parsley (about 2 cups)
  • 1 bunch mint (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 8 ounces feta cheese
  • Extra lemon juice to taste
  • Salt to taste

1. Dice red onion and place in a bowl covered with water and a pinch of salt. Cut  tomatoes in quarters and squeeze out seeds. Dice remaining tomato flesh into small pieces. Finely mince garlic, parsley, and mint.

2. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and a healthy pinch of salt. Pour it over quinoa and stir until grains are evenly coated. Add onions, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and mint, and stir to combine. Crumble feta over the top and gently stir in. Add salt and more lemon juice to taste.

4. Harvest Grains Blend With Shrimp

Trader Joe's sells a product called Harvest Grains Blend, which contains Israeli-style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. It's similar to pasta in that you boil it in water and eat it hot. Mix in fresh herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and shrimp, and you've got a tasty light dinner.

Do you like quinoa? Or do you think it's too bland?

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