When you make a pot of quinoa, it’s practically a given that you’ll be eating it for several more days. And that’s because just two cups of the dry grain yield six cups of a fluffed up end product. Which begs the question: What the heck should you do with it all? Because let’s face it: After two or three days of eating it as a side dish, it becomes a boring situation for your taste buds.
To help liberate your palate and ensure that none of the supergrain chillin’ in your fridge goes to waste, we’ve hunted down some of the most creative uses for your leftover quinoa—and there are a ton of creative uses for the stuff! And while you’ve got healthy eating on the mind, be sure to find out the 20 weight-loss superfoods you’re not eating so you’re prepared with something healthy anytime hunger strikes!
ADD IT TO AN OMELET
Skip the whole-grain toast as your omelet’s companion. Instead, add some leftover quinoa to your omelet, along with some sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and goat cheese. The ancient grain adds an unexpected flavor and texture twist, a welcome change if you eat omelets regularly throughout the week. Quinoa, one of the best carbs for weight loss, is higher in protein than any other grain and packs plenty of heart-healthy, unsaturated fats and satiating fiber, making it a smart addition to your morning meal.
USE IT INSTEAD OF BREADCRUMBS
Believe it or not, quinoa makes an awesome breadcrumb substitute in things like meatloaf, meatballs, and chicken nuggets. Not to mention, the calcium and magnesium rich-grain easily ups the nutritional value of any dish 10-fold. We’re huge fans of blogger Creme de la Crumb’s recipe for Quinoa Chicken Nuggets. They’re extremely crispy, wholesome and delicious—a total must-try!
TURN IT INTO CEREAL
Kick your sugary cereal to the curb and fill your bowl with some leftover quinoa instead. For some added flavor, top it with some fresh berries, milk, and cinnamon, a powerful blood-sugar balancing spice that’s likely in your cabinet right now. This morning concoction can be enjoyed warm in the winter or cold in spring and summer—it’s delicious either way.
ADD IT TO SOUPS OR CHILLI
Chili is a wintertime staple—and we’re totally okay with that because there are so many ways to make it: white chili, spicy chili, pumpkin chili, the list could go on and on. To keep your creative culinary juices flowing and save some cash, use leftover cooked quinoa instead of ground beef or turkey next time you make a batch. Mix in the desired amount 15 minutes before the pot needs to come off the stove. Just as easily, you can also throw quinoa into any other soup recipes you love. Vegetable Quinoa soup? Sure! Chicken Quinoa Soup? Go for it! The options are endless.
MIX IT WITH OATS
You know what’s better than a bowl of oatmeal? An oatmeal-quinoa combo. After preparing your oats like you usually do, mix in a few spoonfuls of leftover quinoa. Top off the mixture with some nuts, fruit, a light drizzle of honey or any other healthy toppings for a wholesome and filling meal your waistline and taste buds are sure to love.
MAKE FRIED RICE
Indulging in some Chinese take-out and a chick flick is my idea of a great Friday night, but the calories, sugar and salt in my favorite dishes prevent me from ordering in on the reg. Instead, I whip up homemade versions of my favorite cheat meal myself. In fact, I recently whipped up a drool-worthy fried rice recipe that was perfect for using the extra quinoa chillin’ in my fridge. To make a batch, sautée finely chopped onions, zucchini and carrots in olive oil over high heat. Once soft, add some chopped scallions, garlic, ginger and a low-sodium teriyaki sauce to the pan. (We like Soy Vay’s Veri Veri Teriyaki Low Sodium.) Then, add an egg and scramble the mixture. Once cooked through, toss in some leftover quinoa and cook until warm.
FOLD IT INTO BATTER
You should know by now that cakes aren’t healthy. But there are ways they make them healthier, and adding some cooked quinoa to the batter is one of them. Though the grain’s fiber and protein won’t totally negate your sweet treat’s high sugar count, it will help to slow your body’s absorption of the sugar, which will help ward off extreme blood sugar spikes, that can leave your body craving more food.
USE IT AS A SALAD TOPPER
In lieu of fatty croutons or a nutrient-stripped dinner roll, sprinkle a quarter-cup of cold quinoa over your salad. It adds a hearty, nutty flavor and a subtle crunch that will keep your tastebuds happy and some extra fiber that will keep hunger at bay hours after you’ve put fork to mouth.
MAKE A STUFFED PEPPER
For a simple Mexican-inspired meal for one, stuff a few heaping spoonfuls of quinoa into a bell pepper along with some corn kernels, black beans, diced tomatoes, shredded pepper jack cheese, cumin, garlic powder and dried cilantro. Pop it in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and voila! You’ve got yourself a healthy and delicious meal.
HAVE AN ITALIAN FEAST
Mix a serving of leftover quinoa with some chopped peppers, onions, marinara sauce and cottage cheese. After the mixture is well combined, spoon into a ramekin or two and top with some goat cheese. Bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown. From the first slice of the knife to the first bite, this entire process will take you less than 25 minutes. Can’t beat that!
USE IT IN A PARFET
Instead of using a sugar-filled granola or cereal to lend some crunch to your Greek yogurt parfait, swap in some leftover quinoa. After you’ve spooned the grain into the bottom of a bowl, top with your yogurt and fruit of choice and a light drizzle of honey.
THROW IT IN A SMOOTHIE
To boost the staying power of your post-workout smoothie, add some quinoa. It’s chock full of the carbs and protein your tired muscles need to refuel and repair themselves. We’ve found that frozen berries, banana, quinoa, Greek yogurt, and honey make for a filling and refreshing combination. We’re also big fans of these 25 other weight loss smoothies—check ‘em out for some additional blender inspiration.
ADD IT TO GUAC
We came across the creative Guacamole Quinoa recipe pictured above on the food blog Foxes Love Lemons a while back and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to share it. Finally, that day has come! Basically, all you do is whip up guac like you normally would and then add in some chopped mango and quinoa for some extra texture, flavor and staying power, but definitely click on the link above for the full recipe—and combine it with one of our ETNT-approved healthy chips.
TRY HOMEMADE TRUFFLES
It may seem hard to believe, but your leftover quinoa may be just the cure for your next sweet tooth attack—when combined with a few other pantry staples, that is. See those drool-worthy truffles pictured above? They’re filled with the ancient grain! Here’s how to make ‘em: Grab 1/3 cup of leftover quinoa and zap it in the microwave until it’s warm. Then, throw 16 whole, pitted dates into a food processor until they form a ball. Remove the mixture from the machine and add a ½ cup of almonds and pulse until finely minced. Next, combine the quinoa, dates, minced almonds, ⅓ cup natural peanut butter and ½ cup of dark chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Shape into 24 1-inch balls and roll each in some unsweetened coconut flakes to create a crunchy coating. Place on a dish, refrigerate until set, then dig in and enjoy! Each “truffle” has just 55 calories—a far cry from the traditional candy which can carry up to 200 calories a pop! For even more amazing recipes that can fulfill all of your indulgent food desires, check out these 30 guilt-free snacks for your biggest cravings.