Quinoa with Mushrooms, Leeks and Red Pepper

Since it’s still in the single digits in Baltimore, my body is still craving warm, comfort food. So tonight’s dinner was quinoa with sauteed vegetables. As a health food, quinoa is one of the best. Quinoa has been around for the past 3-4,000 years, primarily used in South America. Based on it’s looks, quinoa looks like a grain. But it’s actually considered to be a pseudo-grain, or a seed. It’s also gluten free, and you can easily substitute it for any recipe that calls for rice. Some other benefits of quinoa are:

  • High in protein, and is a complete protein-perfect for vegetarians and vegans
  • High in fiber
  • High is phosphorus, magnesium and iron
  • Quick to prepare, usually taking 15min only

You can mix quinoa with practically any vegetable, or even beans. Instead of rice and beans, try quinoa and beans. Delish. And my rule with meals is, the more veggies you can add, the better. Tonight I used mushrooms, leeks and red pepper. Leeks are not onions, but are similar in flavor. So, if you don’t have leeks on hand, or don’t want to experiment, you can use onions instead. Give them a shot, I think you’ll like them.

The other things that give this dish it’s flavors are garlic and white wine. If you don’t want to use white wine, substitute vegetable broth or chicken broth. To finish off the dish, I threw a handful of chopped walnuts on top. I originally found this recipe in Cooking Light and made modifications to better suit my needs.

After dinner, I often like to have a piece of dark chocolate. My favorite is Green and Blacks 85% dark chocolate. I just break off a small chunk, and then you have one chocolate bar for one week. You’re only taking in around 100 calories, but you are getting so many benefits. Dark chocolate for me is anything over 70%. I don’t know what the official percentage has to be, to be considered to be dark, but I like 70%. Dark chocolate is rich in flavanoids and can help lower insulin resistance, regulate your glucose, and lower your body’s inflammation which has been associated with diabetes and heart disease. For me, it also helps me to feel like I am getting a treat, which keeps me satisfied and not craving refined sugar. This positive info is not a free reign to eat as much dark chocolate as you would like. In large quantities, it’s still high in calories and fat.

The strange thing, is every time I have a piece of dark chocolate, I sneeze. It’s every single time. I finally learned what causes this. At first I thought I had an allergy, thank goodness I didn’t! What’s happening is called Autosomal dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst sysdrome. Or, the acronym is ACHOO. Hysterical. What happens is similar to when someone sneezes when looking at the sun. That’s never happened to me before though. They don’t really understand why this happens, just that ACHOO  affects 18-35%. For me, I’ll just keep a tissue nearby when I eat dark chocolate

Quinoa with Mushrooms, Leeks and Red Pepper (serves 4 as a main serving)


  • 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of mushrooms thinly sliced, or 2 packages of 8oz mushrooms- I like mixtures of shitake, portabello, button, etc.
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine (always choose a wine that you can drink after, I like semi-dry)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Black pepper, salt and parsley to taste
  1. 1. In a medium saucepan, heat broth and water until it boils. Stir in quinoa. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 min or until liquid is absorbed. This might take a few minutes more or less, so check to see that there are “holes” in the quinoa mixture and water is absorbed. When it’s cooked, keep the lid on and set aside
  2. Heat a saute pan to medium. Swirl olive oil around the pan and add the garlic and leeks. Cook for 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Add red pepper and cook for 3 more minutes
  4. Add mushrooms and wine and cook until mushrooms are tender
  5. Season veggies with salt, pepper and parsley to taste
  6. Place about 1 cup of quinoa in a bowl and top with another cup of mushroom mixture. Top with walnuts


  • 419kcal
  • 55g carbohydrate
  • 14g fat
  • 16g protein
  • 8g fiber


  • By Faith - on

    Cristina this sounds yummy! Some may find it odd but I enjoyed Quinoa for breakfast for quite some time. I only stopped when I started the paleo thing. I ate it as a hot cereal, cooked only with water then eaten with a dash of butter and fresh blueberries.

  • By fueledandfocused - on

    No, that’s not strange at all. I’ve definitely seen some yummy recipes including it as a hot breakfast. Even Brett enjoyed it, he just needed a bit more spice and added hot sauce. I liked it as is, but could always add more garlic 🙂

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