I have neglected for some time now to write this post; which surprises me because quinoa has pretty much found a weekly spot in my meal planning.
When people in my office see me eating it; they have so many questions. I'll share some.
Let's start with: what is quinoa?
The technical answer is that quinoa is a species of goosefoot; a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds (per Wikipedia). In short, it's a grain.
Why eat quinoa?
It's a great source of protein.
Is it easy to cook?
Yes, it's pretty much cooked the exact same way as rice.
What do you eat it with?
I use it as a substitute for rice and sometimes pasta. I also use it as a protein filler to decrease the amount of meat-protein in a dish.
Is it expensive?
Not at all. When I first searched it out, I paid $7 for a bag at Target, which I did think was expensive. Since then I've realized that my local grocery store, Jewel, and Whole Foods sell it for much less. I probably go through one or two boxes of this a month at $2.99 each.
I'd be surprised if you haven't heard of quinoa already. It's one of those "trend" foods. One of my favorite work lunches is Protein Bar. Mainly because they have online ordering so I can avoid a long line, but also because it is SO good and fairly healthy. The majority of their dishes are quinoa based.
I decided to try to recreate their Green Ivy. It turned out GREAT.
Ivy Quinoa Wrap
- 1lb chicken breast
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2+ cups fresh spinach
- 4 wraps
- 1/2 cup fresh parmesan
- 1/2 to 1 cup pesto*
- 1 can chicken broth**
*: Here's my go-to pesto recipe. I omit pine seeds to save on cost and also cut calories.
**Note: Because it was my first time making quinoa, I decided to cook it in chicken broth for additional flavor. Since then, I just cook it in water and cannot tell a difference
- In a pot, add 2 cups water (or broth) and 1 cup quinoa (Whenever cooking quinoa, keep a 2:1 ratio between liquid and quinoa
- Like rice, bring to a boil and then cover with lid and take down to a simmer
|Initially in pot|
- While your quinoa is cooking; cook your chicken/cut into small pieces and season; I use the Old Taylor Street Cheese Sprinkle from Spice House for ours; but salt, pepper and garlic is yummy also (Also note; they have a variety of Chicago Spices that make for cute gifts!)
- Stir pesto into your quinoa
|Cooked in pot|
You can tell the quinoa is cooked by taste/softness and when you start to
see the outline of the grains, like below.
- Bring water to a boil and steam your spinach
- Add quinoa, chicken, spinach and cheese to your wrap and enjoy!
I recently created a Pinterest board for quinoa inspirations. Often times I look at Protien Bar's menu and see what sounds good to recreate. I've even subbed quinoa for pasta and made "mac and cheese" with it. It's also a great noodle subtitute in "pasta" salad! I've used it as a substitute side for Cilantro Lime Chicken (just cooked and then adding in lime and cilantro for flavor).
The possibilities are endless!