I have used quinoa before as a kind of rice substitute or as a simple side to a meal. I chose to make a batch of Quinoa with the intention of using it in new ways to see if I could get my kids to also enjoy it. Turns out, I haven’t had the best of luck with cooking quinoa (or rice!) on the stove, so I decided to try and use my rice cooker for the quinoa. Turns out, the rice cooker was a slick and easy way to cook up a whole batch of quinoa – which is great since I’m much more likely to cook it more often when it’s easy!
The first recipe with quinoa I tried was Oatmeal Quinoa Bites – something I hoped the kids would enjoy! I made a couple substitutes to use things we had on hand (instead of apple chunks, I used frozen black berries from our garden, and instead of dipping the bites in chocolate after they had baked, which seemed like too much work for me, I added mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to the mix before baking).
Basically, I simply mixed all the ingredients together, then scooped into a well greased muffin pan, and baked for about 12 minutes. The kids were a little hesitant to try the bites, but once they did, they loved them! They are excited to try a few more fruit substitutes with the recipe and see which one becomes our favorite!
Next, I decided to use quinoa in a casserole. I found a recipe online that called for broccoli, quinoa, cheese, and bread crumbs. I decided to also add black beans, onions, and some red pepper flakes, since I enjoy experimenting 🙂 After combining everything and topping with a little crushed pepper, I baked it for about 30 minutes. Turned out to be quite delicious!
Finally, smoothies have been a go-to option for me to trick the kids into eating stuff they refuse to eat, such as spinach, kale, etc. While one of my kids will eat quinoa, the other doesn’t care for it, so I thought we’d try it in a smoothie!
I usually wing it when it comes to smoothies, so I decided to mix about half a cup of quinoa with some frozen mango, strawberries, black berries, plain greek yogurt, banana and some white grape juice we had on hand. The quinoa blended really well and was undetectable, but the smoothie was lacking a little flavor, so I added some frozen blueberries last minute. It made for a super yummy treat for the kids (which they BOTH enjoyed!) and a nice option to get a little extra protein and grains into their diets without much fuss. 🙂
This class really has inspired me to use grains in more creative ways and to branch out a bit to grains I’m not used to preparing. It has been super helpful for me as we transition to a more plant-based diet to have gained more knowledge and experience with preparing whole grains. I think a major hesitation for me has been a lack of confidence in how to cook grains, so this class has been tremendously helpful! As summer approaches, I really look forward to trying more recipes to combine new grains and the veggies we grown in the garden!