Product: Nature’s Earthly Choice Mushroom & Vegetable Medley Easy Quinoa – $3.99+
By now…many of you know that I am obsessed with quinoa. I mean…obsessed with it. It is always in my pantry, ready for me to cook up, fluff up, and serve in a variety of ways. It is so versatile and can be used not only in cooking, but in baking too. This ancient grain is a protein powerhouse, something that I love about it. And it cooks up quicker than rice…and is way better for you too.
But…sometimes I just need something easy for dinner. Something I can just throw on the stove and not have to do anything else too. That’s when Nature’s Earthly Choice steps in with their handy-dandy boxes of Easy Quinoa. I picked up all four varieties that were available last year when I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Why? Because I had never seen this item before in any of my grocery stores (a few of my natural food stores now carry these) and…it was quinoa. QUINOA!!
Yes…that did say last year. I was in Minnesota to run a race and spend time with my family…and as a reward for doing so well on my run…I picked up some items I had never seen before. Or even heard of for that matter. These little boxes of quinoa goodness were just some of what ventured home in my luggage. As I have tried two of the four varieties so far, you will recall that one was a hit and one was a miss. So…the other night as I was prepping to head out for a fun run with my running group in Louisville, I needed something easy to make and easy on the stomach.
I pulled one of the Easy Quinoa boxes out of the pantry and hoped for the best. My selection: Mushroom & Vegetable Medley.
Sounded appetizing enough. I love mushrooms. I love veggies. I love quinoa. Had to be something to it, right?
Cooking this up takes about 20-25 minutes total. Something I didn’t consider when I thought I would be reaching for something quick. I sort of missed my group run and ended up running it on my own…by myself. Ah well.
As I was saying, once the water is boiling, the rest is easy. But you do need to account for the time it takes to bring the water to a boil. In a saucepan, add 2 cups of water and the pouch of quinoa and bring it to a vigorous boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the vegetable and seasoning packet. Give it a good stir so that everything blends together well. And then you just let the quinoa cook until it is tender and chewy (white spiral threads appear around each grain) and all the water is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and give this mixture a good fluffing with a fork.
Dish into bowls and settle in to eat. My roommate and I split the box between the two of us…but there are 3.5 servings per box. With this already being mentioned, I might as well hit you up with the down and dirty nutritional facts. One serving will provide your body with 160 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. The sodium content for something that comes from a box is very low, topping off at 230 mg per serving. You get 3 grams of fiber and an amazing protein hit of 6 grams. Awesome.
Every ingredient is something that I recognize. These include: quinoa, potato starch, onion powder, mushroom extract, dry milk, salt, yeast extracts, sugar, olive oil, soybean oil, garlic, tomato powder, glucose syrup, maltodextrin, celery flakes, spices, natural flavorings, citric acid.
So…how does this concoction of quinoa and dried veggies and spices taste? Better than I thought it would. The entire time it was cooking, I kept thinking that it smelled like chicken noodle soup…or some soup of that respect. It had a really great taste to it though. The onion and the spices really shine. I didn’t really get the mushroom flavor, but I’m sure it was blended in there. What mattered was how good it was. It had this savory, slightly salty flavor in each bite. The quinoa was cooked to perfection. And the flecks of veggies throughout the mix rehydrated really well when added to the water and allowed to cook into the quinoa. Everything just worked together really well and provided a distinct, and delicious flavor.
You could easily bulk this up into a main dish by adding a protein of choice (for me…tofu…for others, perhaps chicken, shrimp, beef or pork). Or…adding some sauteed vegetables or even some potato might really turn up the volume. The possibilities are endless…and that’s what is so great about Nature’s Earthly Choice Easy Quinoa. And, while the Sundried Tomato Florentine is still my favorite, this one is definitely a close second. I only have one more variety to try…and I’m really looking forward to it.
Search for these at your local grocery stores and/or natural food stores. Cook up a delicious protein-filled side or meal in no time flat. Yep…it really can be that simple.