Recipe: Baked Quinoa ‘n Cheese

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



Serves 2

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.





Shake Up Your Breakfast.

Let’s face it, mornings are super busy.  One of the top things I hear from my clients is that breakfast is hard to fit in.  I completely understand as I am a working mother of two – so I am always creating fast tricks to eat something quick and healthy for breakfast.  In working with MJ Tam, a busy mom, host of the on-line show, Chicagonista Live!, and lifestyle blogger, on healthy ways to get protein at breakfast – milk is a focus – as part of the National Milk Mustache “got milk?”® Campaign’s The Breakfast Project.   MJ is making great progress with balancing meals with high quality protein, whole grains, veggies and fruits – and bringing snacks with her on the go, too.

Here’s a simple breakfast trick – whip up a milkshake!  You can pair it with whole grain toast and nut butter and head out the door.  It’s tasty, quick and jammed-packed with calcium, vitamins A and D, potassium, as well as good quality protein (8 grams per cup). The best part is it’s portable – I pour my milkshake into a thermos and go!

Milkshake combos are endless.  Here are morning milkshakes you can whip up at home…no ice cream required (use frozen fruit instead).  For creamier milkshakes, use whole or 2 percent fat milk.


  • One cup milk + frozen cherries + handful semi-sweet chocolate chips + a mint leaf
  • One cup milk + frozen pineapple chunks + coconut (optional)
  • One cup milk + freshly brewed coffee, cooled, + a teaspoon vanilla + a drizzle of honey + handful of ice

Blend all these in your blender or Vitamix – on the “Frozen Dessert” setting.

If you have other milkshake ideas that you enjoy, let us know.  Shake up your breakfast today!


Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by the National Milk Mustache “got milk?”® Campaign. As always, all opinions are my own.