By Jen Miller
Adopting a more plant based diet is a goal of many, but it can be tough to know where to start. Vegan food doesn’t have to be bland and tasteless. On the contrary, vegan food can be some of the most flavorful food you’ve ever tasted. By utilizing the intensity of herbs and spices, you can ramp up the satisfaction and flavor profile of any dish. This can especially be true in regards to preparing seeds and grains that are virtually tasteless by themselves.
Quinoa is different from grains like rice and oats in that it actually is categorized as a complete protein. It is one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. Although quinoa is commonly included in the same conversation as grains, it is botanically more like spinach. What we know to be quinoa is actually the seed from a flowering plant.
This unique seed is typically prepared by boiling in combination with water, similar to the preparation commonly used to cook rice. Quinoa can be served a sweet or savory dish, and can serve as a snack, side or a foundation of a dish. Sweeter quinoa dishes can be made with ingredients like cinnamon and pure maple syrup, while savory dishes can be made with ingredients like black pepper and onions. You could even add quinoa into your morning bowl of oats for some added protein and diversity.
Nutrient Dense Spicy Quinoa Recipe
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
- 3cups quinoa (use white, red, black or tri-color)
- 5cups water
- 1/2cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/4cup hot sauce
- 3tbsp olive oil
- Sea saltto taste
- Cracked black pepperto taste
- 1/2cup Shredded carrots
- 1cup Broccoli
- 1cup Mushroom
- 1cup Cauliflower
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- Boil the quinoa and wait till your quinoa has simmered for 15 minutes
- Pour ¼ cup of your favorite hot sauce into the quinoa, along with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir adequately until they are evenly coating the quinoa
- Stir in ½ cup of pumpkin seeds, sea salt and pepper
- Add optional items such as avocado, shredded carrots, broccoli, mushroom and cauliflower. Other ideas include dried fruit, more seeds (sunflower, sesame, poppy seeds) and nuts (macadamia, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts).
- Serve and enjoy
STEP ONE – BOIL THE QUINOA
Using a large measuring cup, scoop 3 cups of quinoa into a large saucepan. Make sure you’ve got plenty of room to combine all of your ingredients when you take the quinoa off the heat. Pour the 4.5 cups of water in with the quinoa. Turn your stove top on high heat. Cover your saucepan with a lid and bring the quinoa to a boil. When the quinoa comes to a roaring boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook with the lid on for 15 minutes.
Feel free to peak on your quinoa at the 10 minute mark to see how much water it has absorbed. Ideally, at the 15 minute mark, the quinoa will have absorbed all of the water and will appear light and fluffy (similar to rice). Adjust this time as necessary, as every stove top is slightly different.
STEP TWO – COMBINE WET INGREDIENTS
After your quinoa has simmered for approximately 15 minutes, take the lid off and stir with large cooking spatula or spoon. You want to add your wet ingredients to the quinoa first, while it’s hot. This will make it easier for them to combine thoroughly.
Pour ¼ cup of your favorite hot sauce into the quinoa, along with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir adequately until they are evenly coating the quinoa.
STEP THREE – ADD DRY INGREDIENTS
After the wet ingredients are combined, it’s time to add in the dry ingredients. Using your large spatula or kitchen spoon, stir in ½ cup of pumpkin seeds, liberal pinch of sea salt and a hefty sprinkling of pepper. Sea salt and pepper measurements are up to, add them in to taste. For a starting point, aim for a teaspoon of each and work up from there.
STEP FOUR – ADD IN OPTIONAL MIX-INS
A great way to add in some additional nutrition is to pick some favorite veggies and add them into the mix.
Some ingredients that work well in a quinoa bowl are avocado, shredded carrots, broccoli, mushroom and cauliflower.
More ideas on potential add ins include dried fruit, other seeds (sunflower, sesame, poppy), and nuts (macadamia, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts). If you do not care for hot sauce, you could opt for a marinara sauce to keep the flavor but omit the heat. Substituting in a pesto sauce is a practical swap as well (traditionally made with olive oil, garlic, basil and pine nuts).
STEP SIX – PORTION OUT AND SERVE
After you’ve reached your desired flavor with your seasonings and toppings, it’s time to eat! Indulge in your nourishing serving of quinoa by spooning each serving into a dinner bowl. Add some fresh herbs like thyme or basil to the top of your bowl for a pop of freshness. Fresh citrus is another way to make your final product pop.
You’re likely to find that this dish has plenty of flavor as is, though! The simple combination of hot sauce, sea salt and pepper elevate the flavor of the quinoa and make for a filling, mouth-watering dish that your whole family and array of guests will love.
There is a multitude of variations on how you can prepare quinoa – this version just packs some added healthy fats and spicy flavor for additional satisfaction. To read more about the health benefits of adding healthy plant based fats into your dishes, check out this feature on 15 Health Benefits of Pumpkin.
Have you prepared quinoa before? If so, what is your favorite way to prepare it? Tell us in the comments below!
This vegan, gluten free, dairy free, filling dish lends itself to a lot of creativity and easy alterations. There are so many possibilities for additional ingredients or healthy swaps for you to cater this meal so that it adheres to your diet and doesn’t aggravate any food sensitivities/allergies. For example, olive oil can easily be replaced with coconut oil, grass fed butter, grapeseed oil, macadamia nut oil, etc. Let your mind run wild and be creative with this meal.
Look to rely on this recipe for potlucks, nights entertaining a crowd at your house, family dinners and even on food-prep Sunday. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be tweaked and is not easily messed up. Don’t fret if your measurements are not spot on. You can always add more water or more quinoa during the cooking process if the texture is not ideal.