Quinoa Salad with a Middle Eastern Twist

This colorful, flavorful, and interesting-textured quinoa salad is a perfect side for anyone and a great main dish for vegans or vegetarians. It’s a great way to take your leftover red quinoa and turn it into something amazing! Using what’s in season now this salad combines persimmons, fresh citrus, herbs, spices, pistachio, and red quinoa for an unbeatable flavor and texture.

Recipe for Middle Eastern Quinoa

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Puffed Quinoa with Pineapple, Apricot and Walnut

Running out of ideas for what to do with your quinoa puffs?  Here is a really great flavor combination for puffed quinoa – pineapple apricot with walnuts.  I like using dried fruit in the quinoa puffs because it adds sweetness and flavor to my plain puffs.  While it seems like any old idea would work, I’ve definitely tried some combinations that just do not work;)  Here is one of my favorites!

Puffed Quinoa Pineapple Apricot Walnut

How to Cook Millet

There is no one right way to cook millet, but this is my tried-and-true go-to recipe when I’m in the mood for a tasty gluten free hot breakfast cereal.  And it’s nutritious!  Check out the millet nutrition information at the end of the post.

Roast until it smells delicious and not a second more!
Roast until it smells delicious and not a second more!

Millet

Ingredients

1/2 Cup Millet

1.5 Cups Water

1 Cup Water

Butter

Salt

Instructions

In a small pot, heat the butter.  Add the millet to the butter and brown.  You will know it’s ready when it starts smelling toasty!  Add 3 parts water for 1 part millet, in this case, 1.5 cups of water and 1/2 cup of millet.  Bring to a boil and cover for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, add an additional 1 cup of water, a dollop of butter, cover and cook for 5 more minutes.  After 5 minutes, turn the heat off and leave the millet sit covered for 10 minutes.

Enjoy!  You can pair millet with all kinds of dried fruits, berries, nuts, seeds or anything else you might put into an oatmeal.  It’s a bit sweet on its own and I don’t add any sugar, but you probably could if you like sweeter things and some flavor combinations work with sweeteners.

Your pot should be small enough that water covers the millet well.
Your pot should be small enough that water covers the millet well.

Flavor Ideas for Millet

Cinnamon & Brown Sugar

Apples & Cinnamon

Maple Syrup & Pecan

Goji Berries & Walnuts

Cooked millet paired with pecans and dried blueberries.
Cooked millet paired with pecans and dried blueberries.

Millet Nutrition

Not only is it gluten free and tasty, millet is also healthy.  In only 1 cup of cooked millet (174 grams), you get a whole lot of good stuff!  It’s not low calorie, which is fine with me – I don’t think breakfast is the place to go low calorie:)

207 Calories

2 Grams of Fat

41 Carbs, 2 Grams Fiber

6 Grams of Protein

Vitamins and Minerals (over 10% DV):

Thiamin, 12%

Niacin, 12%

Magnesium, 19%

Phosphorus, 17%

Zinc, 11%

Copper, 14%

Manganese, 24%

References:

Self Nutrition Data on Millet, Taken from FDA Database

Puffed Quinoa Cereal

Cereal is so expensive.  Granola.  Puffs with fruit and nuts.  Guess what?  It’s all a giant scam!  Stop buying cereal now and start making your own.  It’s healthier, cheaper and you get to pick quality items – especially if you’re gluten free like me.

Puffed Quinoa DIY Breakfast Cereal

Ingredients: Puffed quinoa, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chia seeds, flax.

Instructions: Throw whatever is to your liking into the bowl, pour the milk of your choice and THAT’S IT!  No more store bought overpriced fruit & grain for you!

Nutrition TIP: The nutrition of puffed quinoa is great.  A typical serving of puffed quinoa is 50 grams (which is a more than your typical 30 gram cereal serving – you can always eat less) – here is the nutrition for the quinoa:

Values Per 50g
Calories 180 calories
Protein 6.5g
Carbohydrates 32g
Sugar 1.75g
Fat 7.1g
Saturated Fat 0.96g
Fiber 7g
Sodium Trace

Post Gym TIP: I sometimes use this as my after snack.  If I eat it after the gym, I omit the added flax because my naturopath says too much fiber isn’t good in an after gym snack.

Amaranth Stuffed Acorn Squash Flowers

Nothing says fall like a stuffed squash.  Nutritious, tasty and relatively cheap, acorn squash is a great way to say “hello autumn!”  Amaranth is also a nutrition treasure – it’s a relative of spinach & swiss chard (who knew?!) and has some of its nutritional properties.  One cup of amaranth has over 20% of your daily fiber, 12% daily calcium, and 29% daily iron.

Amaranth Stuffed Acorn Squash Flowers

Ingredients:

Stuffing of your choice

Acorn squash

Amaranth

Instructions:

Cook your stuffing and brown the amaranth when you cook it.  In our recipe, we used chicken, zucchini and onions.  After cooking a bit, we then added chopped up leftover burgers.  Once your stuffing is almost finished, start prepping the acorn squash.  Cut the top off the squash, scrape out the seeds and stuff.  Depending on the size of your squash, baking at 360 F for 20 minutes should do the trick.  You can tell it is finished when the bottom is a bit pliable.

On the first day, we at it out right out of the squash and then made a giant mess eating the rest of the squash.  On the second day, once the squash was cooled, I cut them into these adorable little flowers.  Just rest the squash on its side and cut!  It’s easier to eat like this and is so cute:)  Be sure to let it cool off before you try this – ours had already been refrigerated overnight, I’m not sure how it would turn out freshly baked and cut.

Stuffing with amaranth TIP: The amaranth can get a bit dried out on top after baking.  If you like this, bake with the top off.  If you would prefer a less crusty top, cover the squash with aluminum foil or put its cover back on it.  Nom, Nom – amaranth is soooo goood!

Note: In addition to the benefits listed above, amaranth is rich in other vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  Read more on the nutrition of amaranth.

Puffed Quinoa Breakfast

Puffed quinoa is my new breakfast buddy!  It’s technically a seed, which satisfies my paleo wannabe side and makes a great gluten free cereal base.  Here is a brand new recipe for homemade puffed quinoa.  Puffed quinoa is high in fiber, protein and iron.  I’m so happy I found something healthy for breakfast that’s tasty, gluten free and filled with nutrients.

Puffed Quinoa Fall Breakfast

Ingredients:

1.5 cups puffed quinoa

1 cup frozen diced mango (I know, right, looks like pumpkin!)

1 oz (28 g) raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 oz (28 g) raw, unsalted walnuts

1 oz (28 g) goji berries

Salt to taste

Milk (I use unfortified rice milk)

Instructions:

Dice and thaw the frozen mango, remove excess water/juice.  Pour the quinoa puffs into the bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix.  Add milk to taste and get eating –  quinoa puffs get depuffed pretty quickly after adding milk!  Cut the amount of seeds, nuts & berries in half if you want less calories.

Freezing Mangos TIP: You can freeze mango in large pieces (about 4 per mango) and cut them while they’re still frozen.  For some reason (sugar content?) the mangos don’t seem to freeze all the way and remain soft enough to be cut my a steak knife direct out of the freezer.  Very convenient!

Salt TIP: I like Guerande salts the best and the less expensive grey kind will do just fine for day-to-day use.  I like the shaker with the coarse grey salt in it.  It comes out in little crystals and is just delicious!  So the tip is don’t settle for regular salt.  I tried lots of kinds of salts (pink himalayan salt, red sea salt, dead sea salt, organic salt, regular salt) and finally fell in love with the Guerande.  The earthy taste and simple joy in triggering memories of our trip to Brittany (Bretagne) is completely worth the little bit extra it costs.

Millet Breakfast Delight

Going gluten free has been a challenge and one of the biggest problems is finding a good breakfast.  Oats are great, but since many of them are processed with gluten containing products they can make me itchy.  So I turned to millet.  Millet is a really healthy grain, gluten free and super easy to cook.  Its nutritional profile makes it a great after gym snack.

Ingredients:

1 cup dry millet cooked

1 – 2 oz dried fruit

1 oz nuts

1 tsp butter (coconut or olive oil is ok too)

Salt to taste

Instructions:

Cook your millet.  I use a rice cooker with 1 part millet, 2.5 parts water.  You can do the same in a pot.  If you are cooking millet in a pot, I recommend toasting it in butter first – it adds a rich flavor.  When the millet is done and a little moist from butter or oil, add the dried fruit of your choice – I recommend unsulfured dried apricots.  Top it off with nuts, in this case I used pecans.

Millet for breakfast? Heck yeah – look at that nom nom nom!

TIP on Ancient Grains: When cooking ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth and millet, I like to add berries while cooking.  It cuts the earthy taste and adds a bit of sourness.  Not everyone will like, but I do.  It also adds a cute pink tinge to the cereal.