Quinoa Comfort Food

Quinoa on a wooden spoon

Who says healthy can’t be cozy?

One of my favorite comfort foods has long been some version of carbs with cheese (mac and cheese, grilled cheese, pasta with cheese, etc.), with a close second being something sweet but not too sweet. Despite the inevitable food-coma I would descend into, I allowed it- what’s a little indigestion in the name of comfort? As the years progress, however, I have come to enjoy being more than a stomach-on-legs after a meal, and thus branched out in my hunt for a satisfying go-to-gluttony. Quinoa on it’s own provides an embarrassment of nutritional riches; considered a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids in balance), it also comes loaded with fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin A and Vitamin E. It is gluten-free and low-glycemic, and is as versatile an ingredient as they come, finding a place on your plate from breakfast to late night snack. Now to dirty it up a bit: below are two of my favorite simple naughty-but-nice quinoa comfort foods. Portions serve 1 gluttonously, or 2 sensibly.

Savory:

  • Place 1-cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil.
  • While you wait, chop some garlic (1-4 cloves, depending on your preference) and let it sit. (For more on why letting it sit counts, click here)
  • When your pot is boiling, cover and lower to medium heat. Check the time- it only takes 10-15 minutes to cook, and overcooking leads to difficult-to-clean pots.
  • Thinly slice or grate a cheese of your choosing (I choose goat cheese cheddar, lactose not being a friend to my stomach) and set aside.
  • Add olive oil to a pan on low heat; add chili flakes and a pinch of sea salt. When the quinoa is nearly done, add the garlic to the pan. Sautee for a minute or two.
  • Final step: Empty quinoa into a large bowl, and pour the oil with garlic and chili flakes on top. Mix the quinoa while adding the cheese, distributing it amongst the mountain of grains. Let sit briefly to allow the cheese to melt. Dig in.

Sweet:

  • The cooking method is the same as above, but this time add 1 tbsp. of extra virgin coconut oil to the water in step 1. It will melt and add a rich delicious coconut flavor to the quinoa.
  • When cooked, remove from heat and add a healthy dash of cinnamon and perhaps a touch of sweetener- maple syrup makes this a breakfast-y delight, while coconut nectar has a somewhat exotic flair.

Eat and enjoy, knowing that these indulgent treats are packed with health benefits under that sweet or cheesy goodness.

If you are looking for low glycemic sweeteners, check out the Organic Authority’s roundup here.  For another look at quinoa, check out fellow Oatie Linda Bonvie’s take here.

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