Monday, August 13, 2012

What's for dinner? Quinoa Mac & Cheese

If you're trying to "hide" good nutrients in your children's meals or aren't even what to think of this whole guinoa craze, this is a great place to start. While quinoa (pronounced 'KEEN-WAH) is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley. Many people prefer quinoa for these reasons; first, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes. Second, quinoa tastes great on its own, unlike other grains such as millet or teff. Add a bit of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice and - yum! Finally, of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain and is almost always organic.

Lots of 2012 buzz words packed into that paragraph eh? Gluten. Organic. Vegan. I can't keep up sometimes. Nor do I think I want to. Regardless, enjoy this rich, gooey, protein packed mac & cheese dish with a whole lot less guilt.

~Baked Quinoa 'Mac' & Cheese~adapted from Monica Nelson Fitness
serves 4-6, and can be easily doubled into a 9x13" pan

1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar & pepper jack are great!)
1 cup shredded cheese, for topping


1) Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Sauté the garlic for a few seconds and then add in and sauté the quinoa for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2) Add in the chicken stock, salt & pepper, and onion powder, stirring well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover tightly and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

3) While the quinoa is cooking, preheat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease an 8" or 9" square baking dish.

4) When the quinoa is done, let it sit off the heat for about 5 minutes while you whisk together the egg and milk in a small bowl. Quickly stir the liquid into the pan of quinoa with the 2 cups of cheese and dump it all into the prepared baking dish.

5) Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and place in the oven to bake for 25-35 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown!

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