Tag Archive: Quinoa

8 Healthier Thanksgiving Side Dishes


It’s already November and Thanksgiving is quickly creeping up. Not quite as quickly as I thought evidently with my bus tickets booked for the wrong weekend, but quickly nevertheless.

I’m not someone who thinks eating healthy during the holidays has to be tough, especially if you’re the chef. It’s all about finding and making recipes that are satisfyingly delicious but also good for you and your family. Here are a few recipes to try that break out of the mold of white bread and buttery foods that will still fit in at the Thanksgiving table.

And I’ll apologize in advanced for some of the terrible photos these recipes have, especially the ones from 2 years ago. They’re in desperate need of a holiday makeover.

Instead Of Buttery Vegetables Try…

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts are a perfect sweet side dish with a lot of nutrients and fiber included.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Red Wine have a tangier taste that adults will love. They’re especially good paired with the wine they’re cooked with.

Instead Of Traditional Stuffing Try…

Quinoa Stuffing(gluten-free/vegan) tastes just like traditional stuffing with all of the fixins but without the bread and empty carbs. It’s a great healthier option on the Thanksgiving table but even better heated up the next week for leftovers.

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa would be the health-nuts version of stuffing. It’s full of good carbs and a nutty flavor to satisfy.


Instead Of Mashed Potatoes Try…

Low-Fat Butternut Squash Casserole uses squash instead of potatoes but still has a creamy mouth-feel and savory taste to it.

Low-Fat Garlic & Herb Mashed Potatoes are a great substitution for regular mashed potatoes. The garlic and herbs add enough flavor that you’ll never know they’re made with Stonyfield yogurt.

Try Making Yourself…

Cranberry Sauce is a favorite of mine whether it’s homemade and intricately flavored or just from a can. This recipe’s for any cranberry connoisseur out there.

Vegetarian Buffalo “Chicken” Dip is something I recommend for any get together, holiday or not. It will always get eaten up.

Got a favorite holiday recipe with a healthy twist? Share it in the comments below to help inspire other readers.

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa

Happy New Year! We’ve survived the holidays and a Mayan apocalypse only to be told we need to lose 10lbs before February again. It’s silly the detox diets that people come up with, like raw green juice only for a week or “The Cookie Diet”(sounds promising but it’s not).

I definitely could use less desserts after last month and will probably try to post more healthy vegetable recipes. But that doesn’t mean you should be stuck on juices. Whole foods like broccoli and quinoa are perfectly good for you.

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Broccoli

I read on a blog that quinoa was one of those 2012 “food fads” that ought to fade away in 2013. I hope that’s not true because it’s a great way to vary things up in the kitchen like roasted broccoli.

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 4-6 servings):

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, washed
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts(optional)
  • 1/4 cup craisins(optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lay the broccoli florets out on a baking tray and drizzle with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes until the broccoli begins to brown.
  4. While the broccoli’s roasting, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Add a lid and turn off the heat and wait for the quinoa to cook.
  5. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked quinoa, roasted broccoli, remaining olive oil, hazelnuts and craisins if using, and salt and pepper.
  6. Add extra seasoning as desired. Serve hot or cold.

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Serving

Much better than green juice.

Tri-Pepper Quinoa

Tri-Pepper Quinoa

The easiest place to get inspired for recipes is the grocery store. Just going to the produce section and seeing the huge displays of vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables makes you want to eat that much more. My grocery store had a display of different colored peppers and I knew I wanted to use them for a recipe.

The colors fade from the peppers a little once you sauté them but it brings out a much sweeter flavor, too. They add the perfect touch with some seasoning to quinoa to make it a much more interesting dish.

Tri-Pepper Quinoa Peppers

If you want to dress this up, you can purchase some extra peppers, roast them until they’re cooked, and serve the quinoa inside the cooked peppers.

Tri-Pepper Quinoa

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3/4 salt
  • 1/4 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon honey(optional)
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas

Tri-Pepper Quinoa Olive Oil


  1. Combine the quinoa with the appropriate amount of water(about 3 cups unless the brand you’re using says otherwise) in a pot over the stove. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn off the heat. Leave undisturbed for 15 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over a separate burner.
  3. Sauté the onion and the peppers until they start to turn color and char a little.
  4. Add the salt and pepper to the vegetables in the pan and remove from the heat.
  5. Remove the lid from the quinoa and add in the chickpeas, honey, and sautéed vegetable. Mix well with a large spoon and serve hot.

Tri-Pepper Quinoa Finished Product

Biting into the peppers and onions reminded me of a meatloaf. If you’re not a vegetarian you can always leave the chickpeas out and serve this with some ground beef and I think it’d be excellent.

Cherry Basil Quinoa

Cherry Basil Quinoa

One cherry recipe and now another; if you can’t tell I bought a couple pounds of cherries last weekend and had to find ways to eat them. Now that they’re gone, I’m tempted to get more and see what comes out of it.

The great thing about fruits in the Summer is that you don’t really need to do anything to them. I thought about roasting the cherries before adding them in with quinoa(which you certainly can do), but the light and tangy flavors of fresh cherries mixed with herbs and seasoning didn’t need anything more.


Quinoa’s one of my favorite grains and a pantry-staple in my house. If you’re out of quinoa and still want to try this, you could use couscous or a short-grain rice like Arborio. You could roast the cherries before mixing them in for a different flavor, but when they’re this fresh I think they’re even better as is.

Cherry Basil Quinoa

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 4-6 servings):

  • 1 1/2 cups dry quinoa, washed and rinsed
  • 3 cups water*
  • 3/4 cup pitted and halved cherries
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Small handful of basil, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

*This is the average amount of water I use for cooking quinoa. If you have a different method or the brand you use recommends more or less, by all means you can adjust this.

Cherry Basil Quinoa Yield


  1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a pot and put on the lid.
  2. Turn the burner off and leave the quinoa undisturbed for 15-20 minutes until the water is entirely absorbed.
  3. Toss in the cherries, olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper and mix. Transfer from a pot to a serving dish.
  4. Serve hot or cold. Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Cherry Basil Quinoa Plated

Who knew simple could be so good? You can add some beans into the mix or add crushed pistachios or almonds on top to make this more of an entrée.

Tangy Kale and Carrot Quinoa


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living off meal plan in a dorm room, it’s how to get savvy with the foods and cooking tools available. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I made a meal on an actual stove the past few months, and I can’t wait to move back to somewhere where that’s more convenient.

I haven’t had a chance to run to the store and the day I made this it was pouring outside, so this was truly a winging-it meal made with whatever I had lying around. Quinoa’s a great pantry staple and cooks perfectly in any rice cooker(which is what I cooked this in, although I wrote the recipe for a stove since I figured that’s more common). Add some vegetables and a source of protein and you’ve got a meal.


Another example of ingenuity? The eggs I ate this with were baked, not boiled! I picked that up from this post I found on Pinterest. If you ask me I’d much rather toss eggs in an oven for 30 minutes and get other stuff done than stand over a stove waiting for water to boil. You could also serve this with baked tofu, tempeh, or chicken on top and it’d be just as good. 

Tangy Kale and Carrot Quinoa

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 2 servings):

  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water*
  • 2 cup kale
  • 2 large carrots, shaved into thin strips
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

*This is the ratio with water I usually cook my quinoa in. If the brand you’re using tells you to do differently, follow the box’s cooking instructions.



  1. Rinse the quinoa and then combine it with the water in a small pot. Cook for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy.
  2. Turn off the heat and add the kale and carrot strips into the pot. Cover with a lid for 5 minutes until the kale and carrots have steamed.
  3. Add in the agave, mustard, and salt and mix everything together. Serve while still hot.


The agave and mustard aren’t too strong or overpowering but give this just the right amount of flavor to be light and refreshing. Next time I might add toasted cashews and eat this all on its own.

Green Bean Almondine Quinoa


Green beans are definitely not the sexiest of vegetables. I think they took a hit in the 50s when green bean casseroles were all the rage and they never really recovered from that. That’s a shame because cooked just right they can be delicious!


I love the idea of pairing green beans and almonds. But that alone doesn’t sound particularly enticing since it’s been done to death. I thought I’d try mixing that in with quinoa, since it’s filling and all the rage these days. This is a much heartier side dish that’s bright and flavorless and doesn’t taste dated.


If fresh green beans aren’t available, look for frozen green beans, which will have a better taste and texture than canned.

Green Bean Almondine Quinoa

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 6-8 servings):

  • 2 cups dry quinoa, washed and rinsed
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and washed
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shaved or slivered almonds



  1. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions(I usually cook mine with 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa).
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, cut the green beans into a bite-sized length. Steam the green beans until they turn a bright green color and are cooked through.
  3. When the quinoa is fully cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the beans, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
  4. Move the quinoa to a serving bowl and garnish with the almonds. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Miso Mushroom Quinoa


It always really surprises me when I find out people I know in real life read my blog; I’m not sure why since I have it connected to all my social media accounts, but still it does, and the support is always amazing.

One thing I almost always get asked by friends is where do the recipes come from? There are a whole slew of answers. Sometimes they just pop into my head; other times I’ll pass over one online that I can’t ignore. Over the weekend Whole Foods tweeted their quinoa, mushrooms and peas with miso from the Whole Foods recipe blog and for once I had all the ingredients on hand and knew I had to make it.


Miso is a paste made out of fermented soybeans. It’s available in most grocery stores. A container will last you months and months and it can be used in sauces and soups.

Mushroom Miso Quinoa(adapted from this recipe)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 1 cup dry quinoa or 2 cups cooked
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons white miso
  • Juice and zest from 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil



  1. Cook the quinoa according to box directions.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, combine the rest of the ingredients in a large pan and mix over the heat.
  3. Toss over medium heat until the vegetables have cooked through and the liquid mostly evaporates.
  4. Pour the vegetables into the cooked quinoa and mix thoroughly. Serve hot or cold as leftovers.


Cranberry Cashew Quinoa


It’s been a while since I posted a quinoa recipe. Not because I haven’t been eating it, but because I haven’t been doing anything interesting with it except covering it in store-bought sauce. At some point I forgot to go grocery shopping and had to get crafty and a recipe came out of it.

When I was growing up we always had fish for Friday during Lent. Actually, we usually had pizza because I didn’t like fish, but there was definitely an offering of fish. Usually it was white fish with lemon and dill. Now I don’t eat fish and I’m not Catholic, so fish on Fridays is clearly out. But the bright side of being a vegetarian is discovering new foods, and quinoa on any day is clearly in.


This quinoa recipe like most others is fairly versatile. You can eat it as a side dish with something light like fish or beans, or toss it on a salad of green vegetables and eat it as an entrée.

Cranberry Cashew Quinoa

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 4-6 servings):

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked to box’s directions
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup cashews, raw or roasted
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons dried dill or parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Honey to taste(optional)



  1. Rinse and wash your quinoa before cooking.
  2. Cook using the manufacturer’s directions for water and time.
  3. When the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from the heat.
  4. Add into the pot the rest of the ingredients and mix until evenly combined.
  5. Serve hot or cold as a side with fish or beans.


The Amateur Gourmet’s Quinoa Converter


If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I love quinoa, have for a long time, and certainly don’t need to be “converted” to it. But when I saw Adam’s Quinoa Converter recipe(and hilarious cartoon), I knew I wanted to give that recipe a try because it just looked so darn good.

the-amateur-gourmet's-quinoa-converter- mound

I’ve made quinoa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t understand how you couldn’t love it. Sure, it’s plain; that just makes it easier to add other flavors to spice it up. And yes, it is something of a “health food” food; Adam, if you’re reading this then you can have a laugh over the fact that I made this after coming home from yoga.


I only made a few changes to the recipe. I used 2 Tablespoons each of apple cider vinegar and olive oil for the vinegar and oil listed in the recipe to cut down on the fat. And instead of the fresh parsley I used about 2 Tablespoons of dried Herbes de Provence.


This reminded me a lot of tuna salad, which I used to love. I find vegetarian/vegan “tuna” salads are usually hit or miss, and this was definitely a hit. Swapping in mayo for the oil next time wouldn’t be a bad improvisation.


This was pretty damn delicious. Every time we have relatives over I usually make my vegan quinoa stuffing; now I have a new recipe to work into the rotation. If you still need convincing to try quinoa, try this recipe.

Walnut & Herb Quinoa Cakes


One of my favorite things about being home so far has been having a stove to use whenever; it’s much more motivating to cook something when your refrigerator and stove aren’t separated by 3 flights of stairs.

Quinoa cakes are something that have always intrigued me; they look so fancy and yet always sounded like something easy to make. Finally after seeing Emily post about them, I knew I had to try them. These couldn’t have been easier to throw together. I just took the ingredients out of my pantry and they were cooked before I knew it.

This recipe calls for precooked quinoa, so if you’re planning on making this note that cooking the quinoa will take extra time if you don’t already have some.

Walnut & Herb Quinoa Cakes(inspired by this recipe)

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 2 cakes or 1 serving):

  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons cooked quinoa
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed walnuts
  • Oil for cooking



  1. Combine the first five ingredients together in a bowl and mix until it all comes together.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add a little oil to keep the cakes from sticking. Drop a lump of the quinoa mixture onto the hot pan and with a spoon or fork flatten it into a patty shape.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, flipping once halfway through to get a nice, crisp crust. Repeat with the other half of quinoa and egg mixture.
  4. Serve hot or cold as leftovers.


I loved how the walnuts on the outside toasted up and gave incredible flavor to the cakes. Overall this was a surprisingly easy and delicious recipe, something I’d make again and again.