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10.23.2012

Quinoa Spinach Mac n' Cheese


I am not a big fan of recipe contests. I've entered in two. The first one was these Fried Cherry Cheesecake Bites for OXO's Cherry Recipe Contest. I won. A big prize too, $500 worth of OXO loot. My kitchen is well stocked now! Then I entered these Black Bean and Lime Crusted Fish Nuggets into a Beanitos Recipe Contest. It was close... but I didn't win.

NOW I am working on contest #3. I have complete anxiety before entering something to be judged. It's hard for me!! This contest is a for Hannafords (My local grocery chain). They are running a contest for healthy kid foods. They must include a veggie or a fruit. The winner gets $1000 to Hannafords. That's a months worth of grocery's for this hungry family of 5!!!

So I set to it. What is the first kid friendly meal that comes to mind?




Mac n' Cheese. Have you ever met a kid or adult that does not go crazy for ooey gooey macaroni and cheese?

If you answered yes to that question. WHO? Seriously name them. Because I don't believe you. If you say YOU don't like it... well then I'm not so sure we can be friends anymore... It's just wrong. You must love macaroni and cheese!



To healthify it a tad. Instead of using pasta I went with Quinoa. Why you ask? Well Quinoa is full of so many great things like fiber and protein. Then I tossed in some spinach. One thing I know from being a mom of 3. 2 of which are picky boys. You smother anything in cheese and they will eat it. I assure you. Spinach is your friend. You just need to sneak it in on the kids!

Other than those two small changes it's a traditional macaroni and cheese topped with bread crumbs and baked.



My husband who was a once proclaimed quinoa hater.... was floored by how good this was. He actually said I should nix pasta from our mac n' cheese from now on!

Win for mama!!

So I figure since this was such a family hit here.... it must be a winner right? Why not enter it into the Hannaford contest.

Let me know what you think! Enjoy :)



Quinoa Spinach Mac n' Cheese

3 cups cooked quinoa (cooked according to package directions)
3 tbs of unsalted butter
3 tbs of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Few dashes freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
4 additional tsp of butter
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan add 3 tbs butter and flour to the pan over medium heat. Whisk continuously until a paste forms. Whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium/high bring to a boil whisking the whole time. Stir nutmeg, salt and cheddar cheese.  When cheese sauce is smooth remove from heat.

In a large bowl mix quinoa, cheese sauce and spinach together.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Transfer into a casserole dish.

In a small bowl mix butter  and bread crumbs together. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Bake on 350 until bubbly. About 20 minutes. 

Remove from oven and enjoy!

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55 comments:

  1. I think I'd love this! It's got everything I enjoy eating. :)

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  2. Mac and cheese is always a winner with our kids too. Ok, so I have never tried quinoa...I'm thinking it's about time:-) Good luck in the competition. My fingers are crossed for you!!!

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    1. Try quinoa!! Get on the band wagon. Sooooo good.

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  3. I'm very much intrigued by this recipe! Might have to try!

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  4. Good luck! I've entered a few, and I've been lucky to do pretty well. I'm not very competitive and I have TONS of recipes (as well do) just ready to go, so it's just a fun thing to do in my spare moments of the day.
    This looks amazing! I love quinoa, total staple in my house.

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  5. Michelle W says: Ok, in the first sentence of instructions you say: Mix 3 Tbs of and flour (I'm assuming you mean butter). Anyways, this looks YUM! For dairy free, and gluten free (and even vegan), I'm using coconut milk, Earth Balance soy-free vegan butter, Daiya vegan (and soy-free)cheese, nutritional yeast instead of parm cheese, crushed rice krispies cereal or gf bread crumbs instead of the panko. Will try this, thanks! YUM!!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it should have said butter. I fixed the post. Thanks for catching it!

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  6. how many servings? 4

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  7. Seriously....I'm just going to find your house and invite myself over for dinner. This looks delicious!!! Another winner girl!

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  8. I really have to give this whole quinoa thing a go. I keep telling myself to try it already but always shy away for some reason. But if the hubster says that you can have mac and cheese with no mac and just quinoa - that's a raving review if I ever heard one!

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    1. Really you haven't had it either?! It's so good and versatile. Use it in place of pasta or rice.... or even like oatmeal. It's awesome!

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  9. I love your healthy twist, and I agree, mac 'n' cheese can't help but be a hit! Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Anna! It stills packs some calories. But for the kids that's not a bad thing.... skinny as rails!

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  10. Can you freeze some of it and use later?

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    1. In an airtight freezer container I don't see why not. Though I have not tried it with this recipe.

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  11. WOW!! That looks unbelievable!! And I have a feeling it tastes even better than it looks!!

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  12. I love macaroni and cheese; this is such a healthy alternative! I'm wondering if it would work with kale and spinach (only because that's what we have in the house at the moment)

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    1. Absolutely! Though I would cooking the kale first. It's tougher than spinach. Or remove all the stems.

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  13. I'm almost positive that this will definitely be created in my kitchen this weekend. I'm loving all the components!

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  14. I love mac and cheese and this sounds absolutely wonderful, Carrie! I love that you swapped out the pasta for quinoa and what a golden delicious crust you achieved on top! I'm featuring this post as part of Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution) and thanks for making me drool!

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  15. Just pinned this so I can make it! It looks delicious!

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  16. Made this for dinner tonight! The flavor is amazing!! Though, I'm curious if I did something wrong...is the consistency supposed to be similar to grits?

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    1. Being a northerner... I have never had grits! Have you ever had quinoa before? These meal won't have the same texture as macaroni and cheese as quinoa is a whole grain and not as soft/starchy as pasta. Also.... did you cook the quinoa first?

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    2. It was my first time having quinoa. It was just a little..idk... more fluid than mac? Grits are kind of like oatmeal. I didn't have any whole milk on hand and had to use fat free.

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    3. hmmm.... sounds like your quinoa may have had too much liquid. When you cook the quinoa. When it's done it would be like rice or couscous. This casserole would be much like a cheesy rice dish.

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  17. I made this last night and have already eaten the leftovers twice today... I'm convincing myself it's healthy though and trying to ignore all the butter and cheese.

    (ps. I forgot to rinse my quinoa am I going to die?)

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    1. Hahaha no you won't die! If you don't rinse it you can get little pieces of grit and sometimes it has a bitter taste to it if you do not rinse. But guessing from the fact you have eaten it a few times... your quinoa was probably pretty clean!

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    2. I was very excited to learn that you can purchased prewashed quinoa. I was making it much less often than I'd like because I'd make a huge mess of my kitchen trying to rinse the quinoa...
      This recipe looks awesome I can't wait to try it!!

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  18. Going to make this today.Thank you Carrie.

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  19. Do you think you could substitute gluten free all purpose flour for the regular flour?
    Ali

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  20. Do you think you could substitute gluten free all purpose flour for the regular flour?
    Ali

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    1. Hi Alison, You most certainly could!

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  21. This is so ridiculously delicious! I ate an entire helping before it ever got to the oven! I did 1/3 cheddar, 1/3 fat free cottage cheese and 1/3 parmesan. Do you think you could use bleu cheese in this? We are suckers for it at my house! Thank you so much! AMAZING!

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    1. So happy to hear you liked it! Blue cheese YES! Great idea. I might have to try it with a little buffalo chicken in addition to it.

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  22. I used gruyere, parm, and mild cheddar without spinach since I'm allergic :((( I had a lot of leftover precooked quinoa so this was great! I also used olive oil instead of butter for the top. I think next time I'll get some sundried tomatoes to mix in!

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    1. I'm not the only one allergic to spinach! :)

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  23. I was really excited when I first saw the headline for this recipe but I am confused why you would use quinoa a gluten free powerhouse and then contaminate it with flour and bread crumbs? You have such a great idea why not broaden it to reach a wider generally more restricted audience by taking out the breadcrumbs and using a rice flour? Gluten free kids are picky eaters too...

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    1. I understand your point. However I bake and cook for MY family. We are not gluten free. I use quinoa because we are a vegetarian home it's a great protein for my kids. This is easily adaptable with gluten free bread crumbs and gluten free flours... If that's not good enough... then visit a gluten free blog, there are so many great ones out there.

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  24. So, did you win the contest? Looks delicious, I am going to try this.

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  25. This looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing!!!

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  26. This is such a delicious and easy recipe. I have made it twice since I found it and even my very picky husband eats it. It is my new comfort food go-to.

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  27. I just made this for my son and husband using red quinoa and adding broccoli, with asiago instead of the parmesan. It was a hit! Mac n cheese is my son's favorite of course, and now I can feel better about making it for him! Thanks so much for this recipe!!

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  28. forgive my ignorance - but i'm preparing to make this dish for thanksgiving and i could be dense - but do you mean cook 3 cups of quinoa - or that i want 3 cups of cooked quinoa (in that case how much dry quinoa is that?) thanks!

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  29. Omg, my very first time trying quinoa, and it's SO good!! I love it!

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  30. Omg, my very first time trying quinoa, and it's SO good!! I love it!

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I love your comments and any feedback. Please let me know what you think!