Eating healthy can seem like an insurmountable task some days – not only is it tough to give up every food indulgence in one fell swoop, but at the end of a long day it can seem so much easier to order takeout than to throw together a healthy meal, especially if it involves unfamiliar or unwieldy ingredients.

So instead of trying to follow all good eating rules at once, why not try to swap out one or two ingredients with turbo-healthy replacements that prepare just as quickly and easily? Today’s swap out – trade rice or starch for quinoa! Despite having a weird name, quinoa is a fabulously healthy grain packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s an easy substitute for rice or potatoes in a meal with multiple side dishes, or it can create a meal in itself when combined with beans, tofu, or meat.

Basic Quinoa Recipe

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups cold water
Optional: 1/2 tsp salt

1. Soak the quinoa for 15 min in a saucepan or stock pot.
3. Rinse the quinoa well in a colander or strainer. Drain all excess water off.
4. Move quinoa to the pan and add water and salt, if using.
5. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 min
7. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit five minutes

Quinoa-Vegetable Soup (from allrecipes.com)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2/3 cup quinoa
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 (15 ounce) cans chicken broth
3 1/2 cups water
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 head cabbage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Stir in the quinoa, carrot, celery, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, until lightly browned, stirring frequently.
2. Pour in the chicken broth, water, tomatoes, and cabbage. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the quinoa and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley before servings.

Sesame-Tofu Quinoa (from Cooking Light)

8  ounces  extra-firm tofu, drained
1  teaspoon  olive oil
1  tablespoon  sesame seeds
1  cup  uncooked quinoa
1 1/2  cups  Vegetable Stock or water
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/2  cup  chopped green onions
1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
1/8  teaspoon  black pepper

Place tofu on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels; let stand 20 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add tofu and seeds; sauté 3 minutes. Remove tofu mixture from pan. Add quinoa to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add stock and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Place in a large bowl. Add tofu mixture, green onions, soy sauce, and pepper; toss.

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