August 21, 2014
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This quinoa mac and cheese has all the creamy goodness of the original recipe, with the added health benefits of quinoa.
It’s a great main course for a meatless meal, side dish for dinner, or hot lunch to pack to school the next day- and with this recipe, I’ll show you how to serve it for all three.
Healthy Quinoa Mac and Cheese
With all of its wonderful health benefits, I wanted to use quinoa in a way my family would love, and what better recipe to start with than a mac and cheese-style dish!?
Not only is this dish full of creamy, cheesy flavor, but each 1-cup serving of quinoa is a complete protein, high in iron and fiber, and makes a great alternative to regular rice or pasta.
Here’s what you’ll need to turn quinoa into a cozy mac and cheese:
- Carrots: the secret behind the golden yellow color and adds a dose of vitamin A to each serving.
- Milk: regular or your favorite unflavored non-dairy alternative.
- Dijon mustard: adds a kick of flavor.
- Salt: brings out the other ingredients.
- Quinoa: our star ingredient for this recipe.
- Shredded Cheddar: the cheese for mac & cheese.
The ingredient measurements and more detailed cooking directions are in the printable recipe card below.
How to Make Quinoa Mac and Cheese
This recipe is just as simple to make as the original, but you will need a blender or immersion blender to achieve the perfectly smooth sauce.
Preheat the oven to 375F and prepare the quinoa according to the package directions.
Peel and dice the carrots before steaming them on the stovetop for 15 minutes or until tender. Transfer the carrots to a blender with milk, mustard, and salt. Blend until smooth.
- Mix and bake
Mix the cooked quinoa with the cheese and carrot mixture in a large bowl. Transfer to the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly.
- Extra step
Top with additional cheese and serve immediately.
What to Serve With It
All that’s left to discuss is balancing this dish into a full meal! I’ll sear a couple of chicken breasts for extra protein and serve it with roasted broccolini or my infamous Everyday Side Salad.
You could also make this a meatless meal with veggies or salad, but either way, you can rest assured that everyone will leave the table feeling full and satisfied.
How to Pack it for Lunch
So, let’s talk about how to pack leftover quinoa mac and cheese for lunch!
- Start by preheating your thermos with boiling water.
- Meanwhile, add the quinoa mac and cheese to a microwave-safe dish and stir in 2 tablespoons of milk. Reheat until HOT (you shouldn’t be able to taste it).
- Carefully drain the water and fill it with the quinoa mac and cheese. Top with lid and seal.
Whether you pack it for lunch, serve it as a side or make it a meal, I’m sure your family will love this cheese quinoa “mac”!
Quinoa Mac & Cheese
- 3 medium carrots peeled, washed, and diced
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups cooked quinoa about 1 ½ cups uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese + extra for topping optional
- Preheat the oven to 375F and lightly coat the baking dish with cooking spray.
- Steam the carrots in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
- Place the cooked carrots, milk, Dijon mustard, and salt into a blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. Add a little more milk if needed (carrot size can vary), but the texture should be smooth, not liquid.
- In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, cheese, and carrot puree until combined. Transfer into a medium baking dish.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly. If desired, top with additional shredded cheese and serve immediately.
I’ve made rice mac & cheese, but quinoa is an even better idea!
Could I substitute chicken broth instead of milk, or is this just for vegans?
I never thought about using Quinoa like this. My children will love you! Could i substitute anything for the carrots?
omit the carrots and add more cheese. but you really can’t taste them..