Product: Nature’s Earthly Choice Garden Vegetable Easy Quinoa – $3.99+
I’m a sucker for quinoa. There…I said it. It’s not only a fantastic whole grain, but it is packed with protein that this runner girl needs. For real. But…sometimes I don’t feel like doing all the seasoning, flavoring, and pairing on my own. Not that it’s difficult…I just sometimes don’t want to do it.
Thankfully, quinoa is becoming one of those products that is exploding on the market place. While in Minnesota last year for a race, I was browsing the gluten-free selections at the local Cub Foods near my grandpa’s home. Lo and behold, I discovered four different flavors of this easy quinoa in a box-type meal. Sort of like Rice-A-Roni…but made with quinoa and better ingredients (you know…like real, recognizable ingredients and no partially hydrogenated oils…and no gluten…no gluten!).
I, honestly, have been wanting to crack these boxes open for awhile now, but I’ve got a bit of a backlog in my gluten-free pantry. But…tonight, that all changed. My original plan for tonight was going to be tofu nuggets with carrot fries. The problem was…my tofu was no longer good. Dang it. So, I had to go to Plan B. I had no Plan B. So it was either thaw some gluten-free bread and make a vegan grilled cheese sandwich, or…dig around a little.
I knew these were up on a shelf and coming close to their sell by date. That being said…I now had a new plan for dinner. Plan B was now cooking up a box of the Nature’s Earthly Choice Garden Vegetable Easy Quinoa.
Easy…is putting it mildly. This is basically a meal that prepares itself. Honestly.
Took cook on the stove top, simply put 2 cups of water and the quinoa from the pouch inside the bag into a medium saucepan. Bring the contents to a vigorous boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Open the other pouch, which contains the seasoning mix, and add it to the water. Stir well. Continue to let it cook until the quinoa is tender but still chewy, and white spiral-like threads appear around each grain. Usually this is when the water is completely absorbed. This took about 15-20 minutes for me. Remove the pan from the heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Good to serve.
I made a quick honey-chili dipping sauce for my carrot fries that I roasted in the oven, and dished up this quinoa dish for myself and my roomie to enjoy for dinner. It’s a good thing she’s used to me doing stuff like this. Needless to say…we settled in to dinner and tucked our spoons into our bowls for tasting purposes.
All around, I’d say that Nature’s Earthly Choice does a decent job with this quinoa blend. You get chunks of vegetables (which were dehydrated in the seasoning pouch and include sun-dried tomatoes, carrots, celery, spinach, dehydrated bell pepper) throughout the quinoa itself, giving it a little color and a bit more depth of flavor. Which…it needs. While this was certainly a tasty dish, I found it to be a little on the bland side. The fact that this is a low sodium choice is a good thing, but a little touch of salt would have probably benefited this flavor immensely.
That being said, it was tasty and very filling.
My roommate and I split the box in half and made a meal of it. Even doing that, the calorie count for each of us was still under 300 calories.
A serving size of Nature’s Earthly Choice Garden Vegetable Easy Quinoa is about a cup, cooked. This will set you back only 150 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. There are only 260 mg of sodium in a serving. And with that, you also get 3 grams of fiber, only 3 grams of sugar, and a whopping 6 grams of protein. Awesome. This product is completely gluten-free.
So, I wasn’t as blown away by it as I anticipated, but it was still really good. And, for people who are minding what they eat, or trying to add less sodium to their dishes, this is a great way to do it. Plus you get additional nutritional goodness in the process. I’d buy it again, sure…but I might toss some tofu or a sauce with it, just to liven it up a little.
But…on the whole…not a bad product at all. Quinoa is one of my favorite grains for a reason. It’s nice to change it up from rice every now and again, yes? Why not do it with the nutritional powerhouse that is quinoa. And, make it easy on yourself…let Nature’s Earthly Choice dress it up and flavor it for you. Just cook and serve. Easy…and yummy.