Getting Real on Ingredients: Why Quinoa is Such a Popular Side Dish?

If you’ve ever looked for a rice substitute or hacks for making your meals healthier, then you’ve probably heard of quinoa. Its popularity as both a side dish and integral entreé ingredient has risen considerably in recent years. 

A number of our prepared meals include the superfood, such as our Cajun Grilled Chicken. Why, you ask? Because it’s the real deal.

Especially as our world’s current state of restricted living in efforts to shorten the lifespan of the pandemic, we are being pushed to look for more healthy meal options to prepare at home or new ways to get healthy ready made meals delivered to our houses.

Cajun Grilled Chicken and Quinoa Prepared and Delivered Meal

 A few quick quinoa nutritional facts

While the ancient Incans referred to quinoa as “the mother of all grains,” it is now classified a pseudocereal — a seed. Meaning, it’s not a grain like rice, but it’s prepared and eaten very similarly. 

There are three main types of quinoa: white, red and black, with white being the most common. 

The seed is naturally gluten free, high in protein, fiber and other essential nutrients and antioxidants.

Quinoa is very versatile in taste

Not to say that it has no taste of its own, but the somewhat nutty flavor of quinoa is subtle enough that the superfood offers a practically blank palette to infuse with the chosen flavors of your dish. 

For example, adding cilantro and lime to your cooked quinoa is the perfect base for a low carb taco bowl. Or, peanut sauce, ginger and soy sauce would make it the perfect base for a healthy Thai influenced salad. 

Not to mention our own creation of quinoa with a Cajun flair by adding just the right blend of garlic, onion, chili powder, paprika and pepper — to name a few!

Quinoa is a great source of protein

Are you considering Meatless Mondays (both the environment and your diet will thank you) and looking for a good plant-based source of protein? Choose quinoa! 

Even if you aren’t necessarily looking to substitute one protein over another, quinoa makes a fantastic addition to a natural way to infuse your diet with the recommended amount of protein.

Just one cup of quinoa has about 8 grams of protein. Meaning you can easily prepare a meatless dish and still get the correct amount of protein needed for a healthy diet. Combine with beans, or even fish or tofu to complete the serving. 

Quinoa is a great source of fiber

Truly earning its label of superfood, the nutritional value of quinoa does not stop with its protein content. In fact, it’s also a worthy natural source for fiber. 

Fiber is important for your diet because it promotes good gut health and is said to help prevent chronic diseases. 

While not all of the fiber contained by quinoa is metabolized, it still offers you a greater serving than most grains by almost double.

Quinoa is easy to cook

The real winner — healthy AND easy. Cooking quinoa is pretty simple. Not to mention, it typically takes a fraction of the time most types of rice require. 

Our trick to the perfect quinoa is actually a little less water than the dry seed to water ratio that most bags/boxes recommend. The following is how to cook one cup of dry quinoa, yielding about 3-4 cups cooked, which is 4-6 servings, depending on use. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Dash of salt

Tools

  • Saucepan with lid
  • Mesh strainer

Directions

  1. Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. This removes any leftover saponin, a natural coating that can give your cooked quinoa a faintly bitter taste. 
  2. Bring water to a boil in saucepan. 
  3. Once boiling, add in dry quinoa and dash of salt and turn the temperature down to a simmer or your lowest stovetop setting. Stir gently to ensure all seeds are submerged. Cover. 
  4. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Resist the temptation to remove the lid and check progress! This could release too much of the needed steam to cook your quinoa. 
  5. Once the 15 minutes are up, you check your dish. You should see the seeds have released and expanded. Stir gently. If not all of the water has been absorbed yet, recover and let cook for another 5 minutes or so. 
  6. Add in spices or other elements to your recipe. 
  7. Serve, and enjoy!

In short, quinoa is a fantastic health food choice because it tastes good, has very real nutritional benefits and is fairly simple to prepare.

Click on over to our menu options to select a chef cooked, completely prepared meal that features quinoa to be delivered right to your door within a week. Or, peruse Pinterest for great quinoa recipes to cook yourself! 

Close Menu