The Foodie Physician: Recipe Resuscitation: Quinoa Fried "Rice"
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Recipe Resuscitation: Quinoa Fried "Rice"

Protein-packed quinoa replaces white rice in this healthier version of the classic Chinese restaurant dish.  Quinoa is a gluten-free whole grain that provides a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber to boost the nutrition of this recipe.



Fried rice holds a special place in my heart.  The year after I graduated from college and was living on my own for the first time, it was the first dish I learned to make.  I pretty much ate nothing but fried rice for a year.  It was fast, easy, convenient and most importantly, cheap! 



The problem is that when you order fried rice in restaurants, it’s usually not so healthy.  It’s made with white rice and can be loaded with fat and sodium with just a meager amount of vegetables.  I wanted to perform a recipe resuscitation and make a healthier version of this Chinese restaurant staple.  Instead of white rice, I use nutrient-packed quinoa.  White rice is refined, meaning it’s had most of its nutrients, including fiber, stripped away in the milling process.  Quinoa, on the other hand, is a whole grain and a nutritional powerhouse (CLICK HERE to read more).  It’s packed with protein and provides a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber.  This combination will leave you feeling full and satisfied for a long time as opposed to the quick rush you get with white rice that leaves you feeling hungry soon after.  To read more about this, CLICK HERE.  




To up the nutrition even more, I like to make my fried rice with eggs and lots of veggies, depending on what I have in my fridge or freezer.  Use a variety of different colored vegetables to maximize the nutrients.  This time I used a combination of broccoli, peas and carrots but you can experiment with your favorite vegetables.  Mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers and edamame are some other great options.  You can use fresh or frozen vegetables.  Frozen vegetables are picked and frozen at their peak so they remain nutrient-rich. 

Eggs provide protein as well as several important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  You can also add some diced tofu, chicken or shrimp and this side dish easily becomes a main course.




Restaurant fried rice can sometime be drenched in oil but when you make it at home you can control the amount of oil used.  You don’t need to use much if you use ingredients that have lots of flavor.  Also, to keep the sodium in check, I use reduced sodium soy sauce (or tamari, which is gluten-free) and adjust the seasoning to taste.




Day-old quinoa works best in this dish because the grains will be slightly dried out.  If you use freshly cooked quinoa, your fried “rice” will end up being gummy.  So plan ahead and make a batch of quinoa the night before.  Or if you make it fresh, spread it out on a tray and let in cool in the refrigerator or freezer for a few hours before making the rest of the dish.    
  



Quinoa Fried “Rice”
Makes 4 servings


Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3 teaspoons safflower, peanut or other neutral-flavored oil, divided
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 scallions, sliced (whites and greens separated) plus extra for garnish
1 ½ cups chopped carrots, broccoli and peas (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
½ teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)


Directions:
Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups water and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cover.  Cook 10-15 minutes until done.  Cool the quinoa, ideally overnight in the refrigerator. 

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a wok over medium high heat.  Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork and add them to the pan.  Season them with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until firm.  Break the egg up into pieces with a spatula and transfer it to a plate. 

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the wok.  Add the garlic, ginger and scallion whites and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.  Add the vegetables and cook a few minutes, stirring often, until crisp tender.  Add the cooled quinoa and stir to combine. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, scallion greens and cooked egg and stir to combine well.  Garnish with scallion greens.     


One serving: Calories 278; Fat 9.9g (Sat 1.7g); Protein 11.4g; Carb 36.1g; Fiber 5.3g; Sodium 354mg





42 comments :

  1. So very much agreed with you on the fast/easy/convenient/cheap nature of fried rice. :P I love how delicious this looks! <3 I've been meaning to make quinoa and have been procrastinating, so I will...um, stop that and probably make this later in the week. :P

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    1. Haha, thanks Farrah! I usually make a big batch and freeze it- saves a lot of time later!

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  2. Love this take on traditional fried rice! I like quinoa better than rice so this sounds amazing!

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  3. I love to make fried rice because it's a nice way to use up the vegetables that may be starting to look "sad" in my fridge- thanks for sharing a healthier version!

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    1. I agree, it's a great way to clean out your fridge :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. This looks delicious! I love fried rice but agree it is not the healthiest dish! Love this healthy version!

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  5. My pantry is overflowing with quinoa... I'll definitely be making this with stir-fry this week!

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    1. Great idea! It's the perfect accompaniment to stir-fry.

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  6. Mmm, I love quinoa fried rice! I like to top mine with some kimchi, too. Such an easy, healthy, and tasty meal! Happy Monday :)

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    1. Wow, great idea! I'm sure the kimchi adds quite a pop of flavor!

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  7. Knew I would love this recipe as soon as you told me you were making it! Fabulous makeover. Pinning now!

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    1. So glad you like it! Thanks for stopping by, Jessica!

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  8. Gorgeous! This looks like the perfect makeover! YUM!

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  9. That looks really good! I found your blog through a fellow blogger and I am glad I did! Even though I don't practice anymore, even I am medical graduate from India and now totally obsessed with cooking/baking! :)

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    1. It's great to "meet" you, Manali! Sounds like we have a lot in common :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Oh I love this! Bookmarking for sure. I'm not "always" in love with quinoa, but this is a perfect way to spice it up. Great idea!

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    1. Thanks, Regan! This is a great recipe for anyone who's unsure about quinoa. It's full of flavor and it really does taste like fried rice!

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  11. This looks amazing! I agree that restaurant fried rice is loaded with oil, this healthy quinoa fried rice is much better. I like what you said about quinoa making people feel full longer instead of hungry soon after like white rice - I'll be picking up a bag of quinoa next time I'm at the grocery store to try this! Pinned!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Sarah! Please let me know how it goes if you try the recipe!

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  12. Love this lightened-up version of fried rice! I still need to try make the dish with quinoa.

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  13. I no joke had this on my mind after seeing it on instagram AND my facebook feed at work....it looks even better on here! Never thought you could use quinoa instead! you're photos are epic! Pinning!

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    1. Thanks, Arman! Quinoa is a great substitute for rice in this dish!

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  14. Beautiful pictures! I love that you lightened this up. Fried rice is one of my guilty pleasures!

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    1. Thanks so much, Kelley! It doesn't have to be a "guilty" pleasure anymore if you make this version! :)

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  15. I love quinoa fried rice and have it quite often at our home. While I use onions, garlic and ginger too - I've never added sesame oil to it - gotta try that next time!

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    1. That's great, Shashi! I love the flavor that sesame oil adds. Hope you like it :)

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  16. Absolute yes to this recipe. I love the beautiful photos and all the yumminess in that bowl.

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  17. Love this idea for a fried rice! Definitely trying it :)

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Lyuba! I hope you like it :)

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  18. This sounds really nice. I have changed my own fried rice recipe over the years to adapt it to make it healthier. I use wholegrain brown basmati rice with mine, which means that it doesn't go stodgy, gives it a nutty flavour, and gives it a nutritional punch. I put lots of veg in it, carrots, celery, bean sprouts if I have them, lots of onions or sometimes leeks, plus things that I have in the fridge or freezer, such as peas. I cook it in a minimum of oil, and instead of omelet, I pour the eggs over it at the end, and stir it into the rice, and gives it a lovely texture. I always make a huge batch because it freezes wonderfully, and you just thaw it out for a quick easy meal.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Karla! I Your veggie combinations sound great and I love that you make enough to freeze for later. Such a great idea!

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  19. Thank you for this recipe inspiration! I made it Paleo by subbing in ghee and Coconut Aminos and omitting the sesame oil. I've been disappointed with Paleo recipes for quinoa and was very excited to try yours. It's fabulous and you're fabulous! Thanks again! --VRK

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment, it means a lot to me!

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  20. Wow! looking so colorful. I like this recipe. Thanks for sharing.
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  21. Looks great,but have you any suggestions for an egg-free version for those with dairy allergies? Thanks!

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