Vegan Quinoa Recipes - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Vegan Quinoa Recipes

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

Vegan Quinoa Recipes

If you’ve been thinking about switching up or increasing your whole grain intake, you’ve come to the right place. Quinoa is a great addition to any diet, and especially great as part of a plant-based diet. Keep reading to learn more about why quinoa is good for us and get cooking with our tasty vegan quinoa recipes!

What’s Quinoa?

It may seem like quinoa JUST came onto the food scene, but it’s actually be around for a very long time, which why it some consider it an ancient grain, although it is technically a pseudo-cereal. This means it doesn’t come from a grass plant, like traditional cereal grains do. It originally comes from Peru and Bolivia, where it has been cultivated for over 5,000 years! 1 There are lots of different types of quinoa and it comes in various colors, including white, red and black. White quinoa tends to be the mildest in flavor, with a softer texture, while the red and black varieties have an earthier flavor and chewier texture. It can be fun to try out each variety to see which you like best or mix them all together for a visually appealing dish!

Why Should I Eat It?

Quinoa is often praised for its nutritional content and health benefits. It is a popular choice because of its high protein content, with one cup containing about 8 grams of protein. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, and is particularly high in lysine, which most plant-based protein sources are low in. This makes quinoa’s amino acid profile closely resemble the ideal protein balance (similar to milk) that the Food and Agriculture Organization recommends.Clearly, this should be a go-to staple for anyone looking to up their plant foods but not sacrifice protein!

Aside from its protein content, quinoa is high in digestion promoting fiber and health benefitting vitamins, minerals, like B vitamins, vitamins E and C, calcium and magnesium. It also contains many different phytochemicals, including phytosterols. The phytosterols found in quinoa and other plant foods, that have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic effects and can help keep your heart healthy by decreasing “bad” LDL cholesterol. 2

In addition to all these health benefits, this super pseudo-cereal is also naturally gluten free, and is safe to eat for those who suffer from celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.

Are There Other Grains with these Benefits?

The good thing about the new popularity of quinoa and other whole grains is that they are now widely available and easy to find at many different stores! Most grains and pseudo-cereals can be interchanged for each other, so if quinoa isn’t your favorite or you’re ready for a new cooking challenge, give some these a shot! Amaranth, barley, bulgur, farro are all great, tasty and healthy options to try in your next grain recipe!

Tips for how to cook quinoa

  1. Before you start cooking your quinoa, you want to make sure to rinse it under cold water. This help remove the natural coating on quinoa, which can make it taste bitter.
  2. Use a 1 3/4 to 1 ratio of water to quinoa. Bring water (or broth/stock of choice for extra flavor) and quinoa to a boil and then simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked (~15 minutes depending on amount of quinoa).
  3. Cooked quinoa will last for about 5 days in the refrigerator.

Vegan Quinoa Recipes

Spinach Quinoa Salad – This salad pairs quinoa with two other delicious and nutritious foods…spinach and pomegranates! This recipe calls for blue cheese, which could easily be left out or replaced with another salty ingredient such olives or capers.

Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad—Quinoa and black beans are the star of this dish, which gets a smoky kick with a smoky cumin lime vinaigrette. Perfect to make at the beginning of the week, for lunches and as a side dish for quick dinners!

Quinoa Pilaf—Jazz up your normal rice pilaf with quinoa instead! Not only will it taste and look more exciting, it will also provide you an extra boost of health promoting nutrients!


  1. 2013 International Year of Quinoa (IYQ2013). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed March 18, 2020.
  2. Filho AMM, Pirozi MR, Borges JTDS, Santana HMP, Chaves JBP, Coimbra JSDR. Quinoa: Nutritional, functional, and antinutritional aspects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2015;57(8):1618-1630. doi:10.1080/10408398.2014.1001811.https://


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