Weekly Meal Plan: Quinoa, the Supergrain!

In keeping with our Detox/Healthy January theme, this week’s Weekly Meal Plan is all about Quinoa!  I actually have 2 other side-themes: Chickpeas and Cauliflower, but the star is Quinoa.  I have created 3 delicious recipes using Quinoa here.  Each will give you different textures and flavors, but use simple ingredients consistently in all recipes.  That means less waste and easy prep!

If you already make Quinoa at home, then you likely know how amazing it.  Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is actually an edible seed.  The Incas referred to it as the “mother of all grains” thousands of years back and believed it to be sacred.  It started to become really trendy around the world a handful of years ago.  Today we see it show up in a lot of new recipes and it has moved from being a specialty food item, to a mainstream grocery store item.  I started to cook with quinoa 2 years ago and use it in place of rice or pasta in a variety of dishes.  It is gluten-free, so I love that benefit as I look to reduce/cut gluten from my diet.

Quinoa is Packed with Health Benefits

There are so many health benefits with quinoa.  First, it is high in protein, which makes it a great addition to any vegetarian dish.  1 Cup of Cooked quinoa has 8g of complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.  Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains – did you know that?  Fiber is of course, important for digestion, but also helps reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol and lower glucose levels.

Quinoa contains Iron, the antioxidant Manganese and Lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.  It also is rich in magnesium, which promotes healthy blood sugar control and helps with detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.  Last, but not least, Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2), which improves energy metabolism.  It is seriously a Superfood!

On this week’s menu…3 delicious and really healthy, no-guilt recipes that are low in calories and fat, gluten-free, and full of flavor!  The recipes this week serve 2 people, but are large portions, so you can easily portion them out for 2 adults + 2 small kids.  If you have older kids in the house or a household of 5+, then simply double the recipes.

Quinoa Mushroom Risotto & Cauliflower Steaks

The first dinner on the menu is a creamy Parmesan Quinoa Mushroom Risotto with Cauliflower Steaks.  They are perfectly seasoned and roasted in the oven.  This risotto recipe uses broth instead of wine to cook and thicken, while focusing just on the flavors from the garlic, parmesan, and mushrooms.  I also swapped the heavy cream for low fat milk and you will not miss any of the flavor, I promise!

The quinoa soaks up the broth just as rice does so you make it the same way.  Ladle in the liquid small amounts at a time, each time stirring and allowing it to absorb, then adding more until it is perfectly cooked and creamy.  The Cauliflower is seasoned with chili powder, cumin, and oregano.  It’s sturdy enough to stay in its “steak” slice as it roasts in the oven, releasing its natural sugars for delicious caramelization.  Truly amazing flavor!  For more details on Quinoa Risotto with Cauliflower Steaks, CLICK HERE or scroll down for the recipe. Enjoy!

Garbanzo & Black Bean Cakes with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce & Lemon Quinoa Salad

Garbanzo & Black Bean Cakes are the next recipe on our menu!  They have a light and flavorful Lemon Quinoa Salad topped with a Cucumber Yogurt Sauce that is delicious.  I love the contrast of warm food with a cool sauce and these bean cakes with cucumber yogurt sauce are just up my alley!

The cakes are loaded with Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas) and Black Beans so you get this crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture. They are salty and hearty. Combined with the tangy and cool yogurt sauce that gives you a touch of crunch from the cucumbers, each bite is heaven! These cakes are baked rather than fried, so you get just as much flavor without all the fat. But of course, you can fry them if you prefer. Finally the Quinoa Salad is light and fresh with a simple lemon dressing, fresh red pepper, and scallions for a peppery bite. Amazing and good for you!

This dish is Vegetarian, but because of the flour used as a binder, it is not Gluten-Free.  However, simply substitute the flour for a gluten-free alternative like almond flour, rice flour, or more parmesan cheese!  For more details on this Garbanzo & Black Bean Cakes with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce and Quinoa Salad, CLICK HERE or scroll down for the recipe.

Creamy Cajun Beans & Cauliflower over Quinoa

I love spice and this Creamy Cajun Beans and Cauliflower over Quinoa are great because you can spice-it up or down as much as you want!  When you are trying to watch your calorie intake and increase the amount of water that you drink, adding spice to any recipe helps.  The spicier the dish, the more thirsty you get, the more water you drink, the fuller you feel, the less food you stuff in your mouth 🙂  At least, that’s how it goes for me.

The cajun flavors and healthy garbanzo beans, black beans, cauliflower, and mushrooms make this a hearty, creamy, and delicious dish.  The creaminess comes from creating a roux and then using low fat milk and broth, no fattening/high-calorie heavy cream here!  Serve this over our star supergrain, Quinoa and you will fall in love!  For more details on this Creamy Cajun Beans and Cauliflower over Quinoa, CLICK HERE or scroll down for the recipe.

I hope you try these wonderful Quinoa recipes and are well on your way to feeling healthy after the holidays again!

Quinoa Recipe Week Shopping List!

Here is the shopping list for all three delicious recipes in this week's meal plan.  These Quinoa recipes give you different cuisines, textures, and flavors, but use simple ingredients consistently in all recipes, which means less waste and easy prep!  For any item on the shopping list with an * you can purchase the smallest pack size possible as you only need a small amount.  Be sure to check your pantry and fridge before shopping!

Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 10 oz White Button Mushrooms
  • 8 scallions green onions
  • 1 Head of garlic
  • 1 Large Head of Cauliflower
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Small Cucumber
  • Small bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Eggs*
  • 1 % Milk*
  • 3/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 32 oz Vegetable Broth
  • 15 oz Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 15 oz Can Black Beans
  • 3 cups Uncooked Quinoa
  • All Purpose Flour*
  • Chili Powder*
  • Ground Cumin*
  • Dried Oregano*
  • Garlic Powder* eliminate if using a Prepared Cajun Seasoning Mix
  • Smoked Paprika* eliminate if using a Prepared Cajun Seasoning Mix
  • Onion Powder* eliminate if using a Prepared Cajun Seasoning Mix
  • Ground Cayene Pepper* eliminate if using a Prepared Cajun Seasoning Mix
  • Salt*
  • Ground Pepper*
  • Coconut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil*

Instructions

  1. Shop for these items and begin prepping them on the weekend before.

Quinoa Week Recipes - Prep-Ahead Instructions

These are the steps that you can do ahead to make cooking and meals easier during week nights!  I like to prep-ahead on Sunday mornings and put all ingredients for each recipe in baggies or storage containers in 3 larger Recipe Bowls or in different sections of the fridge, so I can just grab the ingredients for each all together.

Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 10 oz White Button Mushrooms
  • 8 scallions green onions
  • 1 Head of garlic
  • 1 Large Head of Cauliflower
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 15 oz Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 15 oz Can Black Beans
  • 2 cups Uncooked Quinoa

Cajun Seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp Chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayene or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Mushrooms:  Clean with a paper towel (not with water) and then slice the entire package of mushrooms.  Rough chop 1 cup of the mushrooms and place in baggie for the Risotto recipe.  Place the rest of the sliced mushrooms in a storage bag or container for the Creamy Cajun Recipe.  Place all in the fridge.

  2. Scallions: Finely slice 4 scallions separating the whites from the greens.  Place the whites and the greens in separate baggies for the Risotto Recipe.  Slice 2 scallions separating the whites from the greens. Place in separate baggies for the Bean Cakes and Quinoa Salad Meal.  Finally, slice another 2 scallions and place in baggie for the Creamy Cajun Recipe.

  3. Mince 2 cloves of garlic, split in half and place in baggies or storage containers for 2 recipes: 1) the Risotto and 2) the Garbanzo and Black Bean Cakes (you can actually just put the garlic in the same baggie/container with the beans in the step below as they all go into the food processor together)

  4. Prepare the Cauliflower: Cut off any excess stem hanging down and green leaves, but DO NOT remove the core, as this is needed to hold the "steaks" together during roasting.  Slice the Cauliflower in 3/4 inch slices.  You should end up with 2 ends and 3-4 large inside "steak" slices.  With the 2 end slices, break them up into small bite-size florets and place those in a baggie for the Creamy Cajun recipe.  Place the Cauliflower "steak" slices in another baggie for the Risotto and Cauli Steak Recipe.

  5. Dice a quarter of the red pepper and place in baggie for the Bean Cake and Quinoa Salad Recipe.

  6. Drain and Rinse the Garbanzo beans and Black beans.  Split both in half and place half combined in 1 baggie for the bean cake Recipe and half combined in another baggie for the Creamy Cajun Recipe.

  7. OPTIONAL PREP: If you really want to save time, you can make the quinoa ahead, though I like to make it on meal night, since it is such low maintenance while it cooks.  You will use it cold for the Bean Cake with Quinoa Salad recipe.  You will need to reheat it for serving with the Creamy Cajun Recipe.  To make the quinoa for 2 recipes (not the Risotto), rinse 2 cups quinoa under warm water in a strainer. Add to 3.75 cups water and a pinch of salt in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed. After 20 minutes, turn off heat, move to a cool location or fridge and let sit covered while cooling.

  8. Make the Cajun Seasoning, if you have not purchase a pre-mixed seasoning.  In a small bowl, mix all of the Cajun seasoning ingredients. Store in a baggie or storage container in a dry place.

Quinoa Mushroom Risotto & Cauliflower Steaks

This is a Creamy Parmesan Quinoa Mushroom Risotto recipe with garlic, parmesan, and mushrooms. I swapped the heavy cream for low fat milk and you will not miss any of the flavor, I promise! The quinoa soaks up the broth just as rice does so you make it the same way until it becomes creamy deliciousness.  Paired with the hearty Cauliflower steak spiced with Cumin, Chili Powder, and Garlic, this is the perfect meal!  Gluten Free and Vegetarian.

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Calories 456 kcal
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

Quinoa Mushroom Risotto

  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup White Button Mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 Scallions, thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 3 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1/2 cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano, dried

Cauliflower Steaks

  • 3-4 Cauliflower Steak Slices
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Preheat 3 cups of vegetable broth in a small pot.  This will be used for making the Quinoa Risotto.

  2. Prepare the ingredients for the Quinoa...Slice and then rough shop 1 cup of mushrooms.  Slice 4 scallions separating the whites from the greens.  Mince 1 clove of garlic.

Make Quinoa Mushroom Risotto

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under warm water 2 times.

  2. In a preheated saute pan, saute with 1 tsp Coconut Oil, the mushrooms and the scallion whites.  Saute for 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms are seared and reduced in size by half.  Remove the mushroom mixture from the pan and set aside.

  3. To the same pan the mushrooms were cooked in, add the garlic and half of the scallion greens for 1-2 minutes.  Add the quinoa and a few ladles of hot broth to cover the quinoa.  Cook until broth is absorbed, stir frequently.  Ladle more broth into the quinoa, another 1/2 cup at a time allowing it to absorb.  Continue this until quinoa is fully cooked, about 20 minutes. 

    Pouring broth into quinoa in a pan for this Creamy Parmesan Mushroom Quinoa Risotto. This recipe has the traditional garlic flavor in the background and the nuttiness from the  Parmesan combined with the meaty earthy flavor of the mushrooms.  The quinoa soaks up the broth just as rice does so you make it the same way until it becomes creamy deliciousness.  This recipe is Gluten Free and Vegetarian.
  4. Last, add the remaining scallion greens (save a teaspoon for garnish) and the mushrooms and stir to combine.  Add the parmesan and stir to combine.  Serve and enjoy!

    This is a Creamy Parmesan Quinoa Mushroom Risotto in a pan on the stove is a recipe with garlic, parmesan, and mushrooms. I swapped the heavy cream for low fat milk and you will not miss any of the flavor, I promise! The quinoa soaks up the broth just as rice does so you make it the same way until it becomes creamy deliciousness.

Make the Cauliflower Steaks

  1. For Roasting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For grilling, get the grill going!

  2. Make the spice mixture by placing all spices and the salt in a small bowl and stirring to combine.
  3. Place the cauliflower steaks on a large sheet pan and brush each side with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Then sprinkle each steak with a healthy amount of the spice mixture.  
  4. For Roasting in the oven...roast for about 15 minutes until you get a nice browned outside.

    For Grilling, you will only need about 8-10 minutes. Once you get some nice charring on one side (about 5-6 minutes), flip the steaks gently and then cook for another few minutes - but remove from heat before it gets too soft or mushy.

  5. That's it! Pair with the Quinoa Risotto and enjoy!

Chickpea & Black Bean Cakes with Quinoa Salad

Garbanzo & Black Bean Cakes with a light and flavorful Lemon Quinoa Salad and Yogurt Sauce is a delicious vegetarian meal!  I love the contrast of warm food with a cool sauce and these bean cakes with cucumber yogurt sauce are just up my alley! The cakes are loaded with Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas) and Black Beans so you get this crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture. They are salty and hearty. Combined with the tangy and cool yogurt sauce that gives you a touch of crunch from the cucumbers, each bite is heaven! These cakes are baked rather than fried because I think you get just as much flavor without all the fat. But of course, you can fry them if you prefer. Finally the Quinoa Salad is light and fresh with a simple lemon dressing, fresh red pepper, and scallions for a peppery bite. Amazing and good for you!

Course Main Course
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

Chickpea and Black Bean Cakes

  • 1/2 can Chickpeas 15oz can
  • 1/2 can Black Beans 15oz can
  • 1/4 cup Parsley, flat leaf
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Pepper
  • 1 Egg, whites only
  • 2 Tbls All-purpose White Flour
  • 2 Tbls Parmesan, grated
  • 2 Scallion, white only thinly sliced

Quinoa Lemon Salad

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 1/4 Red Pepper, diced
  • 1/2 Zest from 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 Lemon, juice from half lemon
  • 2 Scallion, greens only finely sliced
  • Salt and Ground Pepper to taste

Lemon Cucumber Yogurt

  • 1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Tbls Cucumber, finely diced
  • 1/2 Zest from 1 Lemon
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • Dash Ground Pepper

Instructions

Cook and Cool Quinoa

  1. This can be made 1-3 days in advance.  Rinse 1 cup quinoa under warm water in a strainer.  Add to 2 cups water and a pinch of salt in a sauce pot.  Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, turn off heat, move to a cool location or fridge and let sit covered while cooling.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Chickpea and Black Bean Cakes

  1. Drain the chickpeas and the black beans and rinse.  Rough chop the parsley.  Rough chop the garlic clove.  Thinly slice the scallions and keep the greens separated for the Quinoa Salad.  The whites to be used for the cakes.

  2. Add the beans, parsley, and garlic to a food processor and pulse to grind together.  

  3. Scoop the bean mixture into a bowl and mix with the cumin, egg white, 2 Tbls flour, scallion, and 2 Tbls parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.  Form into 4 balls.  

  4. Place the balls on baking sheet rubbed with Olive Oil.  Press each down into a round cake.  Bake in oven for 10 minutes then flip and bake another 10 minutes.

  5. Bean cakes should be lightly browned on both sides when done.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

  1. Finely dice the cucumber and add it to the yogurt in a small bowl.  Zest the lemon and split the zest with half for the yogurt and half for the quinoa salad.  Mix the lemon zest, add salt and pepper.

Make Quinoa Salad

  1. Dice the red pepper.  Then in a bowl, combine the cooled Quinoa, red pepper, sliced scallion greens, remaining lemon zest, juice of half the lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

Plate

  1. Place the Quinoa salad on plate, then top with bean cakes.  Spoon the cucumber yogurt sauce over the top.  Enjoy!

Creamy Cajun Beans and Cauliflower over Quinoa

I love spice and this Creamy Cajun Beans and Cauliflower over Quinoa recipe is great because you can spice-it up or down as much as you want!  The cajun flavors and healthy garbanzo beans, black beans, cauliflower, and mushrooms make this a hearty, creamy, and delicious dish.  The creaminess comes from creating a roux and then using low fat milk and broth, no fattening/high-calorie heavy cream here!  Serve this over our star supergrain, Quinoa and you will fall in love!

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 490 kcal
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/4 Head Cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup Vegetable Broth
  • 1/2 can Garbanzo beans 15oz can
  • 1/2 can Black beans 15oz can
  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 3 Tbls All Purpose Flour
  • Coconut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cajun Seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp Chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayene or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper

Instructions

Make Quinoa

  1. Rinse 1 cup of uncooked quinoa in a strainer with warm water.

  2. Add to sauce pot with 2 cups water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce to a light simmer.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, turn off heat, but keep covered until ready to serve.

Make Cajun Seasoning

  1. Of course, you can use a Cajun Seasoning Mix if you have one that you love.  But if not, then in a small bowl, mix all of the Cajun seasoning ingredients.  Set aside for later.

Make Creamy Cajun Beans and Cauliflower

  1. Break apart about 2 cups of cauliflower florets into bite-size pieces.  Slice the scallions.  Slice the mushrooms.  Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and black beans.  

  2. To a preheated pan on high heat, add a tsp coconut oil, mushrooms, cauliflower, and scallions (save some of the greens for garnish).  Turn heat down to medium and saute the vegetables for 4-5 minutes until seared and starting to soften.  

    Cauliflower and mushrooms cooking in skillet for this Creamy Cajun Cauliflower and Beans Recipe served over Quinoa.
  3. Add the garbanzo and black beans, as well as a tablespoon of the cajun seasoning. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes.  Sprinkle 2 Tbls of all purpose flour over the cauliflower and mushrooms in the pan and stir to combine.

    Cauliflower and mushrooms cooking in skillet with flour added for this Creamy Cajun Cauliflower and Beans Recipe served over Quinoa.
  4. Add 1/2 cup low-fat milk and stir.  Then add the brother and stir.  Cook on medium-low until sauce has thickened.  

  5. Taste for seasoning and add more cajun seasoning as needed.

Plate

  1. Loosen the quinoa with a fork and then place some on each plate.  Top with the Creamy Cajun Beans and Cauliflower.  Garnish with scallions.

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