Food and Nutrition

Quinoa Is the Gut-Healthy Grain That Only Takes 15 Minutes To Cook—Here Are 10 Ways To Use It

Emily Laurence

Photo: Getty Images/ NelliSyr
Quinoa is as, er, engrained in the wellness world as smoothies and avocado. It's well-known as a food that's absolutely packed with health benefits. To be clear, all grains have nutritional value, so if you'd rather eat rice or oats than quinoa, there's no need to force yourself to cook something you just aren't into. But if you haven't yet experimented with any quinoa recipes, it's definitely worth giving a try; the hype around its nutritional benefits is real.

Want a little highlight reel of what it brings to the table? Quinoa has more protein and iron than rice, clocking it at 3.5 grams and 3 milligrams per serving, respectively. It's also one of the rare sources of plant-based complete protein, meaning you don't need to eat it alongside any other foods in order to reap all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is also a great source of calcium and folate, and it's full of fiber, with five grams per serving. (Rice has less than one gram per serving.) This makes it a great grain for gut health, as fiber is crucial for keeping the digestive system running properly.

Besides its nutritional density, quinoa is also extremely versatile—just like other grains. It tastes a bit nuttier than rice while still being mild in flavor, making it easy to work into a variety of dishes. To that end, rounded up here are ten ways to try it. All the quinoa recipes included here are easy and, since they feature the grain, directly benefit the gut. Keep reading to get the goods.

10 gut-healthy quinoa recipes for every meal of the day:

quinoa recipes breakfast
Photo: Cookie+Kate

1. Cinnamon toast breakfast quinoa

If you're sick of having the same old bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, switch things up with this recipe. It has a warming flavor profile (thanks to cinnamon, maple syrup, and coconut oil), crunch (due to raw pecans), and of course, plenty of fiber since quinoa is a primary ingredient.

Get the recipe: cinnamon toast breakfast quinoa 

savory quinoa breakfast
Photo: Eat With Clarity

2. Savory breakfast quinoa bowl

More into savory breakfasts than sweet ones? In this dish, the quinoa is combined with kale, pesto, olive oil, avocado, and hard-boiled eggs. With the exception of the pinch of salt, literally every ingredient is scientifically linked to benefitting heart health.

Get the recipe: savory breakfast quinoa bowl 

3. Spiced strawberry and quinoa parfait

This simple breakfast is a delicious way to enjoy your summer strawberries. The fruit is combined with maple syrup and lemon zest to make a sweet sauce that's drizzled over quinoa and yogurt, which is flavored with warming spices including cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla. Add nuts for crunch!

 

snack bars
Photo: Dash of Sanity

4. No-bake snack bars

Make a batch of these bars and you'll have fiber- and protein-packed snacks to eat on the go or when you're in back-to-back Zoom meetings. All you need to make them is quinoa, oats, peanut butter, and honey. And they don't require any baking whatsoever.

Get the recipe: no-bake snack bars

enchilada dip
Photo: Food Heaven Made Easy

5. Quinoa enchilada dip

Quinoa worked into a party app? Yep, it's happening. Paired with black beans, tomato, onions, and cheddar cheese, this dip is perfect for tortilla chips. It's definitely more exciting than a jar of salsa—and certainly more nutrient-rich.

Get the recipe: quinoa enchilada dip

quinoa salad
Photo: Foodie Crush

7. Quinoa salad

Incorporating the grain into your lunchtime salad adds another layer of flavor, texture, and, of course, benefits. Here, it's combined with black beans and chickpeas—both of which are full of protein and fiber. Also in this salad are avocado, bell pepper, red onion, and mango. Your tastebuds will light up.

Get the recipe: quinoa salad

garlic shrimp
Photo: Well Plated By Erin

8. Garlic shrimp with quinoa

Dinners that don't dirty a ton of dishes are the absolute best and this one only uses one pan. The shrimp is seasoned with chili powder and garlic while the quinoa is made with cayenne, salt, and (more) chili powder. Cook it with chicken broth and lemon juice and you have yourself a flavorful, satiating meal in half an hour.

Get the recipe: garlic shrimp with quinoa

saffron quinoa
Photo: Cooking With Manali

9. Instant Pot saffron quinoa with cashews and raisins

Another dinner that creates virtually no dishes during the cooking process is this saffron quinoa, which is made right in the Instant Pot. Saffron is scientifically linked to boosting mood and brain health, making it an excellent herb to cook with. It also has a rich flavor, earthy, grassy, and minty all at once.

Get the recipe: Instant Pot saffron quinoa with cashews and raisins 

chocolate cake
Photo: Making Thyme For Health

10. Gluten-free chocolate cake

Hot baking tip alert: quinoa can completely replace flour in your baking recipes. That's exactly what's done here to make this chocolate cake. All you need are a few pantry staples, including unsweetened cacao, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Bake 'em together and you have yourself a rich, moist dessert.

Get the recipe: gluten-free chocolate cake

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