Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the tag “Quinoa”

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Pesto Quinoa

Pesto quinoa stuffed mushrooms 2

This post is about the delicious stuffed portobello mushrooms I made. The pesto gave the quinoa a rich flavor, while the avocado added a buttery texture to the dish. The quinoa complemented the flavor of the filling mushrooms. Read on for a recipe which promises not to disappoint  (unlike my fashion sense or spelling skills, which let me down fairly often).

Pesto quinoa stuffed mushrooms

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Pesto Quinoa:


1 cup of quinoa

2 cups of water

2 tsp of olive oil

4 portobello mushroom caps, rinsed, patted dry, and stems removed

salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste (for the mushrooms)

2 tbsp of pesto

1 tomato, diced

1/2 an avocado, halved and diced

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder


1- Add the quinoa and water to a pot. I set the heat to medium and waited until the water was boiling before turning the heat down to medium-low and letting the quinoa simmer for about 20 minutes until the water was absorbed.

2- While you are waiting for the quinoa to finish and after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes, then add olive oil to a frying pan and let it heat over medium heat. Add the mushrooms when the pan is hot. Sprinkle the spices on as the mushrooms begin to cook. Turn them when they start to brown on one side (about 5-7 minutes). Let them cook for another 5-7 minutes on the other side. Take them off the heat when they’re tender.

3- Add all of the rest of the ingredients to the quinoa when it is finished. Stir it and let it sit to let the flavors combine.

4- When all layers are finished and prepped, start by placing all of your mushrooms with the tops facing down. Fill each with quinoa mixture and finally top with the extra avocado pieces (if desired). Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Southwestern Cilantro-Lime Corn Salad Served with Quinoa

southwestern corn salad

Life is like being on a seesaw: constantly moving, changing, striving for balance, and hopefully smiling the whole time it’s happening. There is that moment where the person on the other side of the seesaw is on the same level with you, but usually it’s just for an instant and it can be hard to maintain it.

At times, I feel like I have trouble balancing all of the different parts of my life. There are so many things I’m interested in, that at times I feel like I’m pulled in so many directions. Not to mention, being preoccupied with work and feeling the stresses of everyday life. It almost feels like a wave is crashing down on me, during those times where I’m going full speed, trying to do it all, but not doing much successfully. As Publius Syrus once said, “He who chases two hares will catch neither.” I find this quote very applicable to my life.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I need to make time for the things that are the most important: spending time with loved ones, exercising, and enjoying some of my other passions (especially cooking, eating, and reading). There isn’t enough time in life (or each day) to waste and you won’t have to waste any if you choose to make this salad dish for dinner as it’s a 15 minute meal.

Southwestern Cilantro-Lime Corn Salad with Cumin Quinoa: 

*Serves 3-4

Ingredients for the cilantro-lime corn salad:

1 can of black beans, rinsed thoroughly

1 cup of organic sweet corn, (I used frozen corn)

1 tomato, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

1/2 an avocado, halved and diced

1 tbsp of fresh cilantro, sliced finely

1 garlic clove, minced

1 lime, juiced

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder

Ingredients for the cumin-spiced quinoa: 

1 cup of quinoa, rinsed

1-2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp of cumin

1/4 tsp of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder


1- After rinsing the beans add them to a small pot with the corn and heat over low heat until the mixture is warm (and the corn is thawed). Remove from the heat and add to the serving bowl of your choice. Also add in the rest of the ingredients at this time. Stir well and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

2- To make the quinoa, add the rinsed quinoa to a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce the heat to medium-low once it begins to boil. After about 12 minutes of simmering, the quinoa should be soft and all of the water should be absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and serve the corn salad on top of the quinoa or mix the two together. Either way will be a delicious meal.

Feel free to post any quick-cooking recipes below. I’m always looking for tasty weeknight-friendly meals.

Quinoa with Kale and a Balsamic Dressing

kale quinoa
To feed my growing quinoa addiction, I made quinoa with kale and baby bella mushrooms. At first bite, I felt the texture of the slightly still crisp curly kale, the softness of the mushrooms, and the roundness of the cooked quinoa seeds. The flavors of garlic and the hearty baby bella mushrooms mingled on my tongue, but I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing flavor-wise. Don’t get me wrong, this vegan dish was good, but it just didn’t have that quality that makes a recipe great. I had a little bit of leftover balsamic vinegar dressing I’d made for that night’s salad, just sitting on the table. On a whim, I drizzled a little bit of dressing over the steaming quinoa and took a bite. There it was, that flavor combination I hungered for. And so, this kale and quinoa salad topped with balsamic vinaigrette was born. Read on for the recipe.
Ingredients for quinoa with kale and baby bella mushrooms: 
1 cup of quinoa
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, diced
2 handfuls of kale, sliced into about 1-2 inch pieces
1 cup of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/4 tsp of garlic powder, pepper, and red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the balsamic dressing: 
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1/2 tsp of oregano flakes
1/4 cup of olive oil
Add the quinoa to a sauce pan with two cups of water. Heat over medium-high heat. When it begins to boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer over medium-low until all of the water is absorbed. While the quinoa is cooking, chop all of the vegetables.
 Heat olive oil in a frying pan. When the pan is hot, add the onion. Let the onion cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the diced garlic. When the garlic begins to brown around the edges, add the portobello mushroom slices and the kale. Stir in the spices at this time also.
As the veggies are cooking, make the dressing. Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing except for the olive oil. Whisk the ingredients together, then very SLOWLY add the olive oil as you continue to whisk.
When the quinoa is done, add the other half tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the vegetables. Mix well. Finish by drizzling the balsamic vinaigrette over the quinoa.
What do you like to pair with quinoa? Feel free to post any of your favorite quinoa recipes below!

Guacamole Inspired Quinoa

quinoa guacamole dinner

Avocados are ever present in my diet and for me, a dish with avocado in it is never a disappointment. Hence guacamole-inspired quinoa. This protein packed recipe, is also full of other necessary vitamins, such as vitamin C (thanks to the bell pepper pieces and tomatoes), vitamin A (from the tomatoes), and B-complex vitamins (from the avocado). Avocado adds a creamy texture and a dose of heart-healthy fats. Overall, this dish tasted reminiscent of guacamole, but with much more substance.

Ingredients for guacamole-inspired quinoa: 

*Serves 3-4 people

1 cup of quinoa

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, diced

1/2 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of pepper and garlic powder

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup of diced tomato

1/4 cup of organic bell peppers diced

1 jalapeno diced

1 avocado, diced

1 tbsp of fresh cilantro, sliced


1- Add the quinoa to two cups of water and heat over medium high heat. When the quinoa begins to boil, lower the heat to medium low.

2- Meanwhile dice all of the vegetables. Then heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion to the pan and let it cook for 3-5 minutes before adding the garlic. When the garlic begins to brown, take the pan off the heat.

3- When the quinoa is done, add the extra virgin olive oil, spices, and lemon juice. Stir well and then add the rest of the veggies, including the onion mixture. Finally, add the cilantro. Enjoy!

If you have any favorite avocado inspired recipes, please share!

Quinoa and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers 2

Just about ready for some panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Then these peppers are ready to go into the oven!

As I was surfing Pinterest the other day, I saw a picture of a creamy quinoa and chicken casserole. Immediately I thought of all of the other ways I could use quinoa. While this protein powerhouse is good on its own, I’ve also seen it used in cookies, granola, breakfast cereals, and even brownies. I certainly don’t think adding quinoa to other recipes would do any harm, since it is both healthy and versatile. I decided that it was time to step out of my quinoa comfort zone to create something a little bit different. That’s when quinoa stuffed peppers were born. All the tasty extras that go into stuffed peppers are what make them special. I didn’t skimp on flavor. These bright yellow bell peppers were filled with garlic flavored spinach, diced sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, buttery pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. I topped them off with some crispy Italian-seasoned panko bread crumbs, a little bit more parmesan, and warm tomato sauce. Sorry for all you vegans out there, but this is a vegetarian dish. There is a brilliant recipe on Somer’s blog, Vedged Out, for homemade vegan mozzarella. I suppose you could always use that if you are the mood for this filling stuffed vegetable dish. Read on for the recipe.

stuffed peppers 3

Ingredients for sun-dried tomato stuffed peppers: 

*Serves 3

2/3 cup of quinoa

3 organic bell peppers

1/2 tbsp of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, diced

2 handfuls of spinach, washed

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, and thyme

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup parmesan cheese + a little bit more for sprinkling

1 – 2 tbsp of pine nuts

1-2 tbsp of fresh basil, chopped

bread crumbs for sprinkling (optional, if you are GF, you could always use GF bread crumbs or eliminate them entirely)

1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce, warmed


1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then add the quinoa to a pot over medium heat with 1 and 1/3 cup of water. Cook until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft.

2- Cut out the stem and seeds of the pepper by cutting a circle around the stem of the pepper. Remove the stem and shake out any extra seeds. Put the three peppers face down in a loaf pan. Bake them for about 15 minutes while the quinoa is cooking.

3- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Then add the slices of garlic to the pan. When the edges of the garlic begin to brown, throw in the spinach. Let the spinach soften.

4- When the quinoa is finished cooking, stir in the spices and extra virgin olive oil. Then add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Mix well.

5- After you’ve taken the peppers out of the oven, flip them over in the loaf pan. Drain any excess water. Then, stuff the peppers with the quinoa mixture. Careful not to burn your fingers as they are hot. I stuffed mine using an ice cream scoop (this helped me avoid the huge mess that would have come from using a normal teaspoon). Top with Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs and a bit more parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes.

6- Heat sauce to serve with the peppers after they come out of the oven. Slice the peppers in half and enjoy!

If you’re in the mood for another Italian dinner recipe, I also made the lasagna soup recipe Move Eat Create linked to. Her blog is fabulous by the way (if you haven’t checked it out yet). I’ve bookmarked the recipe and it is definitely one I will make again (and again). Do you have any favorite Italian recipes that are staples in your diet?

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