Thursday, June 20, 2013

To Compete Well, Eat Well: Mexican Style Quinoa

I know a lot of runners are looking for ways to fuel their training in healthy and fulfilling ways. One of my favorite diet staples is quinoa - the wonderful little "whole grain" complete with all 9 amino acids thus making it a fantastic source of protein. I've almost eliminated the use of rice and couscous in my house, because I've replaced them with quinoa.

Quinoa is as versatile as rice or many pastas, but my favorite way to prepare it is with some Mexican flair. This particular dish can be served hot as a replacement for Mexican Rice or - chilled and dressed up to make a cold Mexican summer salad. The recipe below will make a lot - enough for a main dish or to have leftovers for a few days!

Mexican Style Quinoa

- olive oil
- 2 C water
- 2 C quinoa
- 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with chili peppers (or fresh tomatoes/chili peppers)
- 1 can black beans (rinsed)
- 1 bouillon cube (veggie or chicken)
- 1 Tbs chili powder
- 1/2 Tbs cumin
- 1 avocado (cubed)
- 1/2 C white onion (chopped)
- 1/2 C red onion (chopped)
- 1/2 C green bell pepper (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
- S & P to taste
1. Cover bottom of large skillet in olive oil and heat on medium high
2. Add rinsed quinoa to skillet to lightly brown (stir frequently.) When the quinoa starts to pop around in the pan and smells like popcorn, stop! 
3. Transfer quinoa to separate bowl and set aside
4. In skillet, lightly saute garlic, onions, bell pepper until onion is translucent 
5. Add quinoa to skillet with water, can of tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and bouillon cube
6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally
7. Check tenderness of quinoa - it should be softened, but still firm. You can add more water and continue cooking as needed.
8. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow it to set
9. Lightly toss in rinsed black beans and avocado
10. Serve as a side, as a bed for a meat (shrimp, chicken) or as a veggie taco filling

**If you want to use this is a cold salad, chill the quinoa for 1-2 hours after step 7. Add chopped, fresh veggies after the quinoa has cooled completely. I add chopped roma tomatoes, chopped red onion, avocado and a splash of lemon juice. YUM.**


  1. This was really delicious last night - one of my favorites! I haven't made quinoa but may need to give it a try now. Do you rinse the quinoa before browning in the skillet?

    1. Glad you liked it! It depends if you buy it in bulk or from a package. I tend to soak mine regardless, but I get it from the bulk section at Whole Foods. I've never noticed the bitterness from saponin after a quick soak - 10 minutes or so. I'll edit the recipe to suggest rinsing. Thanks!!