I have to admit, I am not impressed with my pictures for this recipe. They do not do it justice, and it makes me sad. I am really still so new in photography and learning how to work with my camera and lighting and composition and staging. I put a lot of effort into my pictures and these ones weren’t my best that’s for sure!
BUT! Because the recipe is just so darn delicious and I reaaaaaallly wanted to share it with you all, I’m posting my not-so-great pics anyway!
I stumbled upon this Quinoa Mac & Cheese recipe a while back while pinteresting my night away. It is adapted off a great blog Moni Meals ! Monica, from Moni Meals is a healthy chef, fitness trainer, and competitive athlete, so I’ve had great fun perusing her site and checking out all the wonderful recipes!
This recipe really caught my eye as I pretty much grew up on macaroni and cheese as a kid, but nowadays wouldn’t think of touching it! Regular mac and cheese isn’t the best nutritionally. It’s full of processed cheese powder, coloring additives, preservatives, and white pasta. I think now as things have changed in the food industry with the attempt healthier options, there may be some updated versions of packaged mac and cheese out there, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up that it is genuinealy “good for you”.
This recipe however, IS! It is made with quinoa, a wonderful ancient grain that is high in protein (this dish has a whopping 16g of protein per serving!!) and safe for those with Celiacs or gluten intolerance. It’s a great source of long lasting energy, and all-in-all a wonderful whole food! The quinoa takes the place of pasta and I must say it does a mighty fine job as a stand in.
The dish is also speckled with vegetables that picky eaters won’t even notice, I promise you! The almond milk and the cheese give the dish a rich and cheesy texture, but with the use of partly skimmed mozzarella, the calories and total fat content stay on the lower side!
A pinch of salt and a little seasoning brings the whole dish together. I gobbled this one up with a nice big side salad and topped it with some salsa and a tad of sour cream! Yum! It was a perfect filling dish for a cold day, and a dish I would most certainly recommend as “kid-friendly”… and you thought you’d never get your kid to eat QUINOA!
I adapted Monica’s recipe (see hers here) a bit to fit my own personal tastes, and I always have some precooked quinoa in the fridge so my version of the recipe used pre-cooked quinoa. You can always cook up a batch in a rice cooker and then make this meal afterwards!
1 medium leek white and pale green parts halved and sliced (about 1 cup)
½ cup diced tomato
2 cups pre cooked quinoa
pinch of salt
a few grinds of seasoning salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1½ cups grated cheese, I used a mix of part-skim mozzarella and cheddar cheese
Whole-wheat bread crumbs for topping (optional, to keep this dish GF omit this ingredient)
Heat oil in med. saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, leek and tomatoes (or bell peppers-or any veggies you want really); cover and cook 5 mins or until tender. Stir in cooked quinoa, and heat, uncovered, 3-4 mins.
Add salt and the Seasoning Salt.
Remove from heat and let stand 5 mins.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 13×9 inch dish with cooking spray. Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and cheese (if you feel you need more cheese, add here.) Stir very well and let some of the cheese melt. (Will seem a little “soupy,” do not worry, it will all mold together.)
Transfer to prepared baking dish and if using bread crumbs, add now. You can also sprinkle a bit more cheese on now if you prefer for topping.
Bake 25-35 mins, (or until browned around edges.)
Garnish with what you wish – some ideas: salsa, scallions, sour cream!