I Eat Plants: Cooking with Quinoa

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Fall is an amazing time of year.  Not only are the leaves pretty and the air crisp, it’s my favorite time for food.

I know, hardly unique, but there you are.

Fall brings all kinds of beautiful produce.  It’s  great time of year to be a vegan!  I know I love potatoes and hearty leafy greens and beets and squash and I’m even starting to like things like cauliflower.  There’s no lack of veggies to try in the fall, but then there is that age old question that vegans hate.

Where do you get your protein?

I’m going to gloss over the fact that there’s protein in almost every food and that most Americans tend to consume far more protein than they actually need, and talk about foods that are a little higher in protein than others.

The standard vegan proteins (processed meat substitutes not withstanding) are tofu, tempeh, and seitan.  Beans are also an important protein source.  Often overlooked however, are grains and seeds.  Whole grains and seeds are often high in protein, and one of the stars is quinoa .

Quinoa lends itself to a number of preparations, from salads to pilafs to casseroles, and to being turned from a side dish to a main dish.  I love red quinoa, with its vibrant color adding a little something to my plate.

One of the easiest ways to turn quinoa into a main dish meal is to combine it with a soft, binding food like potato or sweet potato and shape it into patties or a loaf.  Quinoa can easily be made into a veggie burger, a “meatball,” a croquette, or any number of foods beyond just a pile of cooked quinoa (though there’s nothing wrong with that!).

Preparing quinoa is simple.  Make sure to rinse the quinoa under running water before cooking to remove any saponin, and then add to a covered pot with equal amounts of water or broth; add salt if using water.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, letting the quinoa cook covered for about 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.

You don’t have to make it fancy, but if you’re looking to try out new plant-based main dishes and are afraid you’ll miss out on your protein requirements, give these quinoa croquettes a try!

These tasty bites can be used in so many ways!

These tasty bites can be used in so many ways!

 

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About Author

I Eat Plants columnist Jodie Deignan went vegetarian in 2004 and fully committed to veganism in 2007. By day she’s a psychiatric nurse practitioner and by night she spends a lot of time cooking delicious vegan food for herself and her friends. She’s a bit of a picky eater, with a special distaste for mushrooms, seaweed, raw tomatoes, and eggplant, though she’s discovered along the way she’s a little more open-minded than she once thought. She blogs at The Picky Vegan.

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