My family loves mac ‘n cheese, but they are picky about what kind. I have made both home-made and boxed versions. I am always trying to doctor it up with ‘nutrition boosts’ like high fiber pasta, pureed beans, flax seeds and veggies. Today, I am using quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), the pop star of grains – as it’s a perfect protein source and jam-packed with iron, fiber – and it’s gluten-free – for those that need to steer clear of this wheat protein.
So what is quinoa? It’s a versatile, ancient grain which originated from the Andes Mountains of South America and was among one of the staple grains (with corn and potatoes) of the Incan civilization. It’s simple to make, too. Just add a liquid like water or low-sodium broth and allow it to simmer until all the water is absorbed. It expands before your eyes.
The beauty of quinoa is that it mixes and matches well with other grains, nuts, beans, veggies and fruit. You can add it to salads, soups, chili, casseroles and smoothies. Whether sweet or savory, quinoa pops in your mouth!
In this recipe, I use Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese*. (For a lower fat version, you can use Cabot’s Sharp Light Cheddar.) This sharp cheddar imparts a unique and distinct flavor, as well as hardy mouthfeel, to the dish.
Baked Quinoa ‘n Cheese
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
1 1/4 cup water
1/8 cup golden flaxseed, ground
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup milk, 1 percent fat
1 cup Cabot “Seriously Sharp” cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the rinsed quinoa in a pot with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Then simmer and cover until liquid is dissolved and quinoa is expanded and fluffy.
Place the remaining 1/4 cup of water and the flax seed, mustard, milk and cheese in a blender. Puree on high for 3 – 4 minutes until mixture thickens.
Mix cheese sauce into cooked quinoa in the pot. Transfer to ramekins and top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with tomatoes before serving.
Nutritional Information (per 1/2 cup serving): Calories: 455, Total Fat 17 g, Saturated Fat: 6 g, Cholesterol 28 mg, Sodium 311 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 54 g, Dietary Fiber: 8g, Sugar 13 g, Pro: 22 g
Enjoy evolving your eating today!
*Disclosure: I am a proud supporter and member of the Cabot Cheese Board, however all opinions are my own.