Loaded with protein, fiber, and valuable minerals like iron, it’s no surprise quinoa has been deemed a “superfood.” Technically quinoa is a seed, but it’s easy and quick to prepare like a grain. With its high nutritional value, quinoa is a food item all endurance athletes should have on their plates. Keep a large batch of cooked quinoa around to heat up like oatmeal, incorporate into yogurt parfaits, sauté with vegetables, or try some of these crafty cooked quinoa recipes.
Boost your favorite pancakes with protein and texture by adding quinoa to the mix. Add 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1 egg white and 2 tablespoons milk or almond milk, to your prepared pancake mix. Optional: Add chopped nuts, dried fruit and/or fresh berries to the mix with the quinoa. Pancakes may take an additional 30–60 seconds per side to cook.
Adding quinoa to an egg scramble is the perfect go-to breakfast or quick post-workout recovery meal. Chop 2 cups of veggies (broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, squash and/or onions) and sauté in a small amount of oil until they start to soften. In a bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, 4 egg whites and 1 cup cooked quinoa. Add to the veggie mixture and scramble until eggs are cooked through. Also try adding beans, cheese, salsa or avocado.
Make over meatloaf, by adding chopped veggies and substituting quinoa for the breadcrumbs, for a moist and flavorful meal. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté half of a diced yellow onion, 1 diced carrot and 1 diced bell pepper. In a large bowl, combine the sautéed veggies with 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Gently fold in 20 ounces 93% lean ground turkey and form into a loaf on the baking sheet. Bake for 35–40 minutes.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Quinoa, almond butter and egg whites pack a protein punch in these crave-worthy cookies. Athletes with allergies will also appreciate that they are grain free. Whip up a batch for snacking, or wrap in foil for long training ride fuel. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. In a large bowl thoroughly combine 1 cup salted room temperature almond butter, 1 egg, 2 egg whites, ½ cup maple sugar (or brown sugar), 1 teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Gently mix in 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1 cup dark chocolate chips and ½ cup chopped toasted almonds (optional). Drop 12 1.5-tablespoon-sized balls onto the baking sheet and flatten half way with a spoon. Bake 8–10 minutes—cookies will appear slightly underdone. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.
Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif., and the co-founder of Harmony Bar. A former professional XTERRA triathlete, Cerra now races for Twenty16 Women’s Professional Cycling Team.