How To Make Quinoa The Best Meal Of Your Life

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004_016_IP_R29_0023-2Photographed by Ingalls Photo; Styled by Rhoda Boone
In the last few years, quinoa has rapidly become the hottest thing in the dry-goods aisle. Though ancient cultures like the Incas knew about this superfood long before we were putting it in energy bars, this is probably one of the hottest trends in health food today — and with very good reason. Not only is it a complete protein (meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids), it's also a major source of fiber. Those two elements make it the ideal food for keeping you full, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, and keeping your metabolism running at optimal speed. On top of that, this mighty seed is a trove of nutrients beneficial to everyone, and especially if you avoid wheat and dairy. Calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and a wallop of B vitamins make this one of the best dietary decisions you can choose for your body.

And get this: it tastes good.

How do we love quinoa? Let us count the ways. We love it in our salads, in our soups, in our baked goods. We love it toasted or boiled or sometimes fried, because, whatever, we're getting healthy points just by eating it. We love it so much, we could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — and we think you could, too. We hit the kitchen and came up with three ways to turn quinoa into your favorite meal, no matter what time of day. Not only are these recipes legitimately good for you, but we can attest from our constant eating extensive research that each of them is absolutely delicious. Start here, and you'll never look back.

But first, since two of these recipes call for pre-cooked quinoa, here are the basic instructions for newbs:
1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid (water, broth, etc.)
Rinse well before cooking
Put in a saucepan and bring to a boil
Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 to 20 mins, until quinoa is tender.
Drain and fluff with a fork.

Easy as pie, and a lot healthier. Ready? Let's do this.

001_010_IP_R29_0008-4Photographed by Ingalls Photo; Styled by Rhoda Boone
Quick Quinoa Porridge*
Breakfast can make or break your day. Think about those mornings you start with a bacon, egg, and cheese, versus the ones that start with fruit and yogurt. Not only does your body feel different, but you're far more likely to make better food decisions for the rest of your day. Still, that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the yum entirely. This porridge is a perfect combo of hearty, healthy, and a bit little sweet. It tastes closer to rice pudding than oatmeal, but it's full of all the good-for-you stuff and none of the junk.

Ingredients:
2 cups almond milk, plus 1/4 for topping
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 big pinch sea salt
1/4 cup blackberries
1/4 cup raspberries
1 banana
1/8 cup slivered almonds
Maple syrup to taste
Optional: 1/2 tsp almond extract

*This creates a hearty portion, but if you're a light eater, fear not. Reheat leftovers in the microwave with a splash of almond milk and you have a whole new breakfast.

Combine quinoa, extract, salt, and 2 cups almond milk in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Quinoa will be cooked through in about 15 to 20 minutes, once the seed starts to separate from the pod.

While quinoa cooks, rinse berries and slice banana into bite-sized pieces.

Remove porridge from stove and ladle into a bowl. Pour in remaining almond milk, fold in bananas, and top with berries. Finish with slivered almonds for a nice crunch, and then sit down to the best breakfast, like, ever.

002_020_IP_R29_0033-2Photographed by Ingalls Photo; Styled by Rhoda Boone


003_011_IP_R29_0012-2Photographed by Ingalls Photo; Styled by Rhoda Boone
Quinoa Pomegranate Salad
We are just as obsessed with our giant, chopped, deli salads as you are, but this is worth the few minutes of assembly for a killer office lunch. The combo of greens, nuts, and sweet-tart pomegranate crunch is the perfect complement for our number-one super-seed.

Ingredients: 2/3 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 cups spinach, washed & dried
1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Crush garlic and roughly chop. Whisk together with lemon and olive oil (and a little salt, if that's your jam).

Toss quinoa, spinach, and pomegranate seeds together in a bowl, and top with toasted walnuts.

Drizzle lemon dressing over salad and hit that salad, hard.

004_016_IP_R29_0023-2Photographed by Ingalls Photo; Styled by Rhoda Boone


005_015_IP_R29_0020-2Photographed by Ingalls Photo; Styled by Rhoda Boone


Quinoa Burger
This burger makes people happy. We got raves from staunch vegans and meat lovers alike. A good burger is a good burger, and this one borders on great. It's simple, cheap, and satisfies your big, juicy burger craving without making you feel like you need a nap after. Don't ask questions. Just make it. You're welcome.

Ingredients:
1 small sweet potato
3/4 cup quinoa, cooked
1 15 oz. can great northern beans
1/4 cups chives, diced
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp wheat flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
Oil for cooking

Bake the sweet potato (40 minutes at 400°) or pop it in the microwave (5 to 10 minutes, depending on the power level of your microwave). Either way, be sure to prick the skins all over with a fork before cooking.

While the sweet potato is cooking, prepare quinoa and drain.

Throw all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until ingredients are well combined and the beans are nearly pulverized. If you like a little texture, let it stay a little chunky. Stop halfway through to scrape down the sides, taste, and add salt & pepper to your preference. Note: If you don't have a processor, an immersion blender or hand mixer will do — it'll just take a little longer to combine.

Scrape the batter into a bowl and form into patties. This recipe makes four large burgers, or six smaller ones. Don't be fooled by these meat-free burgers — they're quite hearty and you won't be hungry after a small one.

Pour about a tablespoon of oil (or high-heat cooking spray) into a pan, and bring to a medium-high heat. Cook patties until firm, well-browned, and crisp on both sides (about five minutes per side).

Serve them up with your favorite burger fixings. Onion, ketchup, tomato, mustard, or even plain — this is one of the most rich, flavorful burgers you'll ever have.

006_023_IP_R29_0001-5Photographed by Ingalls Photo; Styled by Rhoda Boone