Love tacos but want to save money?
Or, maybe meatless meals are your jam?
This flavorful quinoa taco “meat” is just the thing! No, quinoa doesn’t have the exact same texture as meat. However, it’s a complete protein! That means it has an adequate proportion of 9 essential amino acids our bodies need. Red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy are some other examples of single-source complete proteins.
A Little Bit About Quinoa
Quinoa, although often called a grain, is actually a seed. Both seeds and grains should be soaked in an acidic medium before eating to make them easier to digest. If you’ve tried quinoa before yet ended up with a stomach ache, read why soaking helps prevent that here.
Properly prepared quinoa is a nutritious and versatile food, especially if cooked in bone broth like I recommend, below!
3 Reasons To Use Quinoa Taco Meat
In addition to breakfasts, baked goods, a gluten-free binder for meatloaf or meatballs, and salads, you can use it to make a flavorful and nourishing taco filling. Need convincing? Read on!
#1 — Quinoa Taco Meat Is Economical
Quinoa is a very economical protein source. It doesn’t have as much protein as a chicken breast, for example, yet paired with other protein sources in your meal it provides excellent nutrition. Try adding beans to your quinoa tacos for an extra boost of protein.
I buy organic quinoa for about $3.00/lb for about 3-1/2 dry cups. Since quinoa triples in volume when cooked, this means I get around 10-1/2 cups for a mere $3.00 in the end. If you buy in bulk, your cost is likely even less per pound!
Compare that to the cost of organic meat per pound and you’ll see quite a difference! Also, using quinoa in meat-based casseroles, soups, and stews helps stretch your meat farther. A meatless meal now and then helps save money, too, and this quinoa taco meat is a great option.
#2 — Quinoa Taco Meat Is Freezer-Friendly
If freezer or batch cooking is how your household survives, quinoa taco meat is perfect for quickly getting your freezer stocked.
Soak your quinoa overnight while you’re asleep! The next day, cooking your quinoa takes very little time. It cooks in a mere 4 minutes in the Instant Pot! In addition, using an Instant Pot frees up room on your stove for other foods you’re prepping for the freezer.
To reheat, simply add the quinoa with a bit of water to a saucepan and heat through. Or use your Instant Pot to reheat — follow Wardee’s simple and clever tips here.
#3 — Quinoa Taco Meat Is Trim Healthy Mama-Friendly
Quinoa is a wonderful THM:E food! If you have trouble with grains such as oats or rice, quinoa is a great carb fuel source for THM. Just be sure to keep your total serving to 3/4 cup maximum.
Since quinoa is higher in carbohydrates, you’ll need to keep your added fats to a minimum as per plan guidelines.
Here’s some great ways to eat this quinoa taco meat on THM:
Tacos with Wonder Wraps as taco shells. These are made with psyllium husk and egg whites and can be seasoned however you like (see the original THM plan book or the revised plan book for the recipe). Top with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, a small dab of sour cream (or use non-fat Greek yogurt), and fresh salsa. Depending on the size of your Wonder Wrap, you should be able to fit 1/4 cup of quinoa taco meat in one taco. That means 3 yummy tacos in this E meal! If you’re also including beans, cut back the quinoa taco meat to 1/2 cup total.
Taco salad! Put all your favorite THM:E friendly taco toppings on a big bed of dark, leafy greens. Sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt plus Raw Fermented Hot Pepper Sauce makes a spicy, metabolism-revving dressing.
Taco egg scramble, bake, or muffins. Add plenty of non-starchy veggies like peppers, onions, and tomatoes, quinoa taco meat, and whisked egg whites for a quick, tasty THM:E breakfast. Just be mindful of the added fat in your skillet or the rest of your meal to stay within plan guidelines.
Use Quinoa Taco Meat Anywhere!
Any recipe that calls for taco meat is a good candidate for this flavorful, nourishing quinoa taco meat. Add it to chilis, taco bakes, nachos, or anywhere you’re craving taco flavor.
I’ve included how we season our quinoa taco meat below, but feel free to use your own favorite taco seasoning, to taste, instead. My son doesn’t like cumin so I leave that out for him.
Finally, you can also add salsa to spice it up. However, those who avoid nightshades will appreciate the tomato-free taco filling below!
Chipotle-Lime Quinoa Taco Meat (THM:E meatless meal!)
Love tacos but on a budget? Maybe meatless meals are your jam? Say hello to Chipotle-Lime Quinoa Taco Meat for kids, vegans, and Trim Healthy Mamas alike! A complete protein, quinoa easily stands in for ground beef in a pinch, especially when laden with your favorite toppings (cheese, sour cream, & black beans, anyone?) and enjoyed in Mexican-inspired dishes like taco salad or stuffed peppers!
- 6 cups soaked and cooked quinoa if cooking in broth for THM:E meals use fat-free broth
- 2/3 cups pure water
- 1 tablespoon paprika powder
- 2-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons cut, dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cacao powder optional
- 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon chipotle powder to taste
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
Whether cooked quinoa is cold or still hot, simply mix it together with the water, spices, and lime juice until well combined.
If seasoned quinoa is cold, simply add it to a saucepan along with a small amount of water. Heat over low to medium heat until warmed through. Watch carefully and stir frequently to prevent sticking or burning.
Serve immediately, or allow to cool and package for the freezer.
To reheat frozen quinoa, follow the same instructions for chilled quinoa, above.
*I follow this method for soaking and cooking quinoa in my Instant Pot. It's easy and works perfectly every time!
How will you use this quinoa taco meat?
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Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer says
TIP: I use red quinoa (or sometimes black quinoa) so that it visually looks similar to ground meat.