As much as I love cooking, I do also love having a delicious meal which doesn’t take that long to prepare. Some days, you just don’t have the time, or simply don’t feel like spending that much time in the kitchen. In the past, my go-to for an easy dish would probably have been cheese quesadillas; or a salad, which doesn’t always feel like a full meal. But not anymore. Oh, no. For I have discovered the truly most wonderful dish of all: the quinoa bowl. I had a quinoa bowl at every meal yesterday (testing out recipes for you 😉 ) and I kid you not, I was actually literally sighing with delight at how delicious these are. And the best thing about quinoa bowls? There are about a billion different variations. You can add just about anything to a bowl of quinoa and it will taste fantastic. Here are my simple guidelines to making your own tasty bowl: 1. Activate your quinoa: Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, in their cookbook The Art of Eating Well, recommend you “activate” your quinoa by soaking it overnight (or for eight hours, during your work day, for example) with an acidic medium such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp for eery 250ml of liquid). Why? According to them,
“Soaking increases the nutrients available and makes them easier to digest by helping to neutralise the negative effects of too much physic acid and other anti-nutrients.”
Soak in double the volume of water, the acidic medium and a little salt. Rinse before cooking. (If activated, cook about twelve minutes in the same volume of water or stock). 2. Include both cooked and raw vegetables: The lovely thing about a quinoa bowl is the variety of ingredients you can use to create it. I like to include some kind of roasted vegetable, such as butternut squash, sweet potato or carrots, for example, as well as some type of wilted green (spinach or kale) and a bunch of raw veggies (tomato, cucumber, radish, mushroom and AVOCADO of course). Choose your favorites – or whatever you’ve got on hand, really – and mix it all up. – Note – You can add a touch of fruit to your quinoa bowl as well: pomegranate seeds are a lovely addition. 3. Extra protein: Quinoa is already quite high in protein for a pseudo cereal, and full of essential amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. However, for a high-protein meal, you could add a number of things to your quinoa bowl, such as:
- eggs: poached or soft-boiled
- legumes: think chickpeas or beans, for example
- fish: I added some leftover steamed trout to one of mine, it was delicious. Other ideas: salmon, tuna or steamed cod flakes.
- dairy: being French, I absolutely love dairy products! Why not add in a spoonful of greek yoghurt or some soft, crumbly cheese, like feta or goat’s cheese?
4. Add an easy dressing: I just sprinkle some lemon and tahini dressing over my quinoa bowls, or squeeze a little lemon juice – or just mix my runny egg yolk into the quinoa…Mmm… Here’s a perfect recipe for lemon tahini dressing from Real Simple. No need to make it complicated, just tahini, fresh lemon juice and zest, olive oil and salt and pepper. 5. Make big batches: Making a quinoa bowl is easy and relatively little time-consuming if you prepare your ingredients in advance. On a Sunday, roast a big batch of veg, cook a big batch of quinoa, and then reserve in a tupperware or Mason jar for use later on during the week! This makes eating on the go much easier as well: a little preparation when you’ve got a spare minute can save you time for the rest of the week!
Here are two versions of my own quinoa bowls for inspiration. Making another tonight, just cause I can! My first bowl contains roasted butternut squash with mixed herbs and pine nuts, wilted spinach, raw radish, tomato slices, avocado and steamed trout. I added in some lemon juice before eating it. Really satisfying and kept me full for hours!
My second bowl is vegetarian: still using some butternut squash and pine nuts (I love the combination), as well as radish slices, for the strong crisp taste. I also included some raw green peppers, wilted paprika curly kale, a soft-boiled egg and pomegranate seeds. Believe it or not, the pomegranate actually brought the entire dish together: it was absolutely delicious and I can’t wait for you all to try it! (or to eat it again for that matter)
What are your quinoa bowl combinations?