This vegetarian-friendly southwestern quinoa is the perfect meatless meal that is still protein-rich and filling! Made with lots of beans, vegetables, herbs, and spices, this quinoa dish is full of essential nutrients to keep you healthy and active. And it’s all plant-based!
This dish is easy, healthy, and perfect for the whole family! It can be enjoyed as the main dish with sides like green salads, fruit, vegetables, whole grain bread, etc. Or, take this to get-togethers as a side salad! It’s versatile, delicious, and nutritious!
While I love meat and poultry, I do like to include at least one meatless meal a week just to give us some balance and variety. I definitely need my protein though, which is why I love this southwestern quinoa as a good protein-rich meal. Quinoa and black beans are good sources of protein, as well as other important nutrients. The protein along with the sweet potato, and other vegetables create a filling and satisfying meal!
Is Quinoa Healthy?
Quinoa is very healthy and I love including it in my diet as a more nutritious replacement for rice and as a plant-based protein. While quinoa is usually referred to as a grain because we eat it like a grain, it’s actually a pseudo-grain. Quinoa is a seed, which explains why it’s so high in protein. The plant itself is actually more like spinach or beetroot. What are the health benefits of quinoa?
- Plant-based source of protein and amino acids: Quinoa is actually a great source of protein. In one cup of cooked quinoa, there’s about 8 grams of protein. It also is rich in amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Specifically, quinoa is a good source of lysine. Lysine is an amino acid that is essential for growth and development because it is required for the synthesis of protein.
- High in fiber: as of right now there is no form of “refined quinoa”. You don’t see white, enriched quinoa on the shelves, it’s just quinoa. Because we can get it in its original form, as an ancient grain, quinoa is high in fiber. In one cup of quinoa, you get about 15% of your daily need for fiber. That’s huge!
- Unlike other grains like rice and corn, quinoa is a great source of antioxidants, particularly Vitamin E, which helps prevent heart disease, cancers, and eye problems.
- High in manganese: in one cup of quinoa, we get about 27% of our daily recommended intake of manganese. Manganese is required for growth and metabolism and works alongside most of the enzymes in our body.
- High in Iron: quinoa is a great source of iron, which is important for a host of processes in the body. Iron is especially important for menstruating women.
- Good source of folate: folate is critical for the growth and development of the fetus in the womb.
With such a large list of important health benefits, how can you not go grab a big bag of quinoa right now?! I like buying my quinoa from Costco because I can get a large bag that lasts a long time for us.
How to Make Quinoa
Compared to rice, quinoa is actually pretty fast to make! The first thing you want to do is rinse the quinoa really well. This helps get rid of the bitter taste and smell that quinoa is known for. Honestly, sometimes I skip this step because I don’t want to take the time, but it’s definitely a good practice to rinse it!
Next, add the quinoa to a pot and add water. Quinoa requires a 1:2 ratio of seed to water (1 cup quinoa/2 cups water). Bring the quinoa to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.
Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Technically, you’re supposed to let it sit for another 10 minutes, but I usually skip this step!
Enjoy this delicious southwestern quinoa!
- 1 cup quinoa uncooked
- 2 cups water
- 1 sweet potato peeled
- ½ red bell pepper
- ¼ onion
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1½ cups black beans
- 1 cup corn
- 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp oregano
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- optional topping: sour cream
- Combine the quinoa and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Chop the onion, poblano pepper, sweet potato, and red pepper.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet pan. Add the onion and poblano pepper and saute until fragrant. Add the sweet potato and cook for about 10 minutes until it starts to become more tender. It's okay if it's not fully cooked by the end of the 10 minutes.
- Add the black beans, red pepper, corn, cilantro, salt, cumin, and oregano. Stir everything together. Continue cooking until the sweet potato is tender.
- Add the cooked quinoa and stir.
- Remove from the heat and add 1 Tbsp olive oil and the lime juice. Stir to mix well.
- Serve with additional cilantro and sour cream, or over a bed of kale.