Gluten free is the topic on everyone’s mind these days.  Celiac Disease is a very real problem effect many in our world today.  However, people who are looking to live a healthier life are also looking towards gluten free products to encourage their diets toward a more natural, less processed, diet.  Enter quinoa. 

Quinoa is an ancient grain originating in Bolivia that contains all 9 amino acids which makes it a complete protein.  Quinoa is also cholesterol and gluten free, which is in high demand in many of today’s diets.  And for those of us trying to be more environmentally friendly, and try to consume less processed products, quinoa is almost always organic as well.  Available in three colors, white, red, and black, use quinoa in your next recipe to bring more color to the table!  Remember: the more colorful your food is, typically, the healthier it is too!

Cooking with traditional quinoa is very simple.  Cooking methods can be compared to rice or couscous.  Just boil for 10-15 minutes, full with a fork, and voila! The perfect quinoa!

Quinoa is also extremely flexible as well, and can be the perfect compliment to many dishes! Check out the recipes below for some new ideas!

Quinoa and Vegetable Stuffed Peppers:

Chicken and Quinoa Soup:

Asparagus and Red Quinoa Salad:

Quinoa Tabbouleh:

If you look closely enough at the varieties of pastas at your local grocery store, you are most likely to find QUINOA PASTA there as well these days.  I thought, are there no limits to this protein-packed grain?!!  What a better way to get over the guilt of eating bowls and bowls of pasta, but by making quinoa pasta!

As a true, carb-o-holic I was thrilled to find this product, and immediately went home to pair it will an organic pesto sauce and fresh broccoli from the farmers market.  Side note —  I love to add broccoli to my “green spaghetti” (aka: pasta with pesto).  I feel that since I don’t like to add any meat with this sauce usually, the broccoli gives it the extra oomph that I’m looking for, but doesn’t take away from the vibrant green color that I love!  In fact, it actually adds to it!

Now, be aware, specifically on the box of quinoa spaghetti under the cooking instructions, it specifies quite boldly — DO NOT OVER COOK.  So watch your pasta people.  Or get technical and use the built in timer on your microwave.

Once my pasta was done, I added it together with the pesto and broccoli and settled in on the couch to enjoy a healthy pasta indulgence.  It was good…  BUT…  the noodles did begin to fall apart some on me, almost as though they had been over cooked by an hour, but I followed the time instructions to the second.  So, my conclusion here is that these quinoa noodles almost need to be shocked (put into a bath of ice water) to stop the cooking process before adding them to your sauce.  My next adventure with these protein pack bundles of love will definitely be dunked in the ice bath!

What I did love about these quinoa noodles was that even cooked, they maintained that slight crunch that you expect from traditional quinoa.  Probably the best part of the entire meal was that after finishing quite the heaping bowl full of these noodles, I wasn’t miserably full and feeling awful as I normally would after a carb-o-overload of regular pasta noodles.  That was a nice feeling.

Now, I am not giving up my Italian born fresh pasta noodles any time soon, but every once in a while, especially for evening meals, I will try out the quinoa pasta.  Just be careful of the over cooking!  I’ll try out the shocking method and let you know how that works out… it may just be the ticket!

Oh, and those of you cooking for a family, keep in mind that the box of quinoa noodles is only 8oz rather than the normal 1lb box.  Even though they look like the same box size the noodles are “lighter” in every way!  You may need to grab an extra box to fill those big appetites.

Happy cooking & Enjoy!