It can be difficult for alpha gals to get the protein they need after giving up mammalian meat and other products, but the one-two punch of poultry and a superfood can really help. Here are 10 deliciously healthy quinoa recipes with chicken that you'll want to try tonight!
The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. I consistently cite and link to expert sources, but nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice.
Alpha-gal sensitivities vary by person. You should understand your dietary restrictions and make any adjustments needed when using this site, directing any questions to your physician.
When I was growing up, I’d never heard of quinoa. The younger me probably wouldn’t have known how to pronounce it if I saw it listed as an ingredient in a recipe, and I definitely wouldn’t have mastered that word in a spelling bee. After all, there are a LOT of vowels!
So when it came to chicken dishes, my Mom – like most home-based chefs of the 1980s and 1990s – paired many of them with rice. But now that quinoa, a South American superfood, is a household name here in North America, I find myself regularly substituting this nutritious pseudo-grain for rice.
I hope these tips and a few of my favorite chicken and quinoa recipes will help you add quinoa to your alpha-gal friendly diet.
In This Article
Quinoa vs Rice
Both quinoa and rice are staples widely consumed around the world. While they are similar, they do have some differences.
One key difference between quinoa and rice is their nutritional value. Quinoa is frequently referred to as a superfood because it is a complete protein. That means it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs. This makes it an important food for alpha-gals who must abstain from mammalian meats, a popular source of complete protein. This plant-based protein is also a good option for vegetarians and vegans. In addition to protein, quinoa is also a good source of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, and thiamin (vitamin B1).
When comparing rice with quinoa, it’s important to consider the type of rice – white rice, brown rice, or wild rice. While each variety contains protein, rice is not a complete protein. And, while each type of rice contains fiber and nutrients, the amounts vary from those found in quinoa.
Other differences between quinoa and rice are their taste and texture. Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor and a light, fluffy texture, while rice is more neutral in flavor and can be either sticky or fluffy depending on the variety.
When it comes to whipping up a batch of quinoa, it tends to be much quicker than preparing rice. Quinoa is typically ready in 15 to 20 minutes, while rice can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to make depending on the variety.
Does Quinoa Have More Protein Than Chicken?
While quinoa is a good source of protein, especially for alpha gals who cannot eat many types of meat and anyone following a plant-based diet, it does not have as much protein as chicken.
One cup of cooked quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein, which is about the same amount of protein as a large egg.
In comparison, one cooked chicken thigh contains 13.5 grams of protein, and one cup of cooked boneless skinless chicken breast contains 43.4 grams of protein.
How to Cook Quinoa
You can easily whip up a batch of quinoa:
- in a rice cooker,
- on the stovetop,
- in a Crockpot or slow cooker, and
- in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker
Regardless of the kitchen appliance used, the general rule for fluffy, perfectly cooked quinoa is 2:1, liquid to grain. So for every cup of quinoa, use two cups of water, milk, or broth.
How to Cook Quinoa with Chicken Broth
Now that you know the basics of cooking quinoa, you may be wondering, “Can you cook quinoa in chicken broth?” The answer is YES! And when you use chicken broth instead of water, you infuse the quinoa with even more flavor. Simply use two parts of chicken broth for one part of dried quinoa and prepare per package instructions.
Can You Put Quinoa in Chicken Soup?
You bet! Quinoa has a stronger flavor and chewier texture than rice, but it works as a rice substitute in dishes like chicken and wild rice soup. To ensure you don’t under or overcook quinoa in soup, I recommend preparing it separately. You can either add the fully cooked quinoa to the soup just before serving to ensure it’s warmed or scoop the quinoa into bowls and ladle the hot soup over it.
Can You Use Quinoa Flakes to Bread Chicken?
Yep! Quinoa flakes are a fantastic, gluten-free alternative to breadcrumbs. Use the flakes straight out of the package or quickly pulse them in a food processor for a finer texture. Keep reading for a recipe that uses 1-½ cups of leftover quinoa to make kid-approved chicken tenders.
Quinoa Recipes with Chicken
From fast and easy-to-prepare quinoa bowls to hearty soups and filling casseroles, quinoa and chicken are a perfect pair. Here are some of my favorite quinoa recipes with chicken. Most are ready in less than 30 minutes, making meal prep a snap and helping you quickly serve a deliciously healthy weeknight meal.
Important Recipe Notes
Before you dig into these delicious quinoa recipes, alpha gals should note:
- Because the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports that most people with alpha-gal can tolerate “moderate, lean dairy,” some of the quinoa recipes below include cheese. If you are an alpha gal who avoids dairy, please make a dairy-free substitution.
- Alpha gals can safely substitute chicken broth for vegetable broth or water when cooking quinoa to plump up the protein in every bite.
1. Quinoa Chicken Bowl with Cilantro Lime Crema
This filling burrito bowl from Kid Tested Recipes adds marinated grilled chicken, black beans, and other traditional burrito ingredients to a bed of white quinoa before topping it with homemade jalapeno crema.
Sage Advice: If you are an alpha gal who avoids dairy, substitute vegan sour cream when you make the crema.
2. Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl
With slices of chicken, roasted cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves, these healthy quinoa bowls from Fresh Apron come together for a fast, easy, and delicious 30-minute meal.
Sage Advice: If you are an alpha gal who eats dairy, bite-sized pieces of fresh mozzarella are a great addition to this quinoa bowl.
3. Mediterranean Grain Bowl
Inspired by Panera’s Mediterranean grain bowl, this recipe from Drugstore Divas uses a prepared blend of quinoa and brown rice made according to the package directions. But you can use any combination of quinoa and rice (including no rice at all) to suit your taste.
Sage Advice: If you react to dairy products, be sure to use vegan feta.
4. Slow Cooker Barbeque Chicken Quinoa Chili
While it can be hard for some alpha gals to say goodbye to beef, especially in chili, this hearty crock pot chili recipe from I Heart Eating can help ease the pain. This filling, one-pot chili is perfect for busy weeknights – just put all of the ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning and forget about it.
5. Instant Pot Enchilada Quinoa Casserole
Another great “set it and forget it” recipe for a fast weeknight dinner is this Southwestern-style enchilada casserole from Operation $40K. Once you cook boneless chicken breast, quinoa, and the other ingredients in an Instant Pot, top it with diced avocado and fresh cilantro.
6. Southwestern Chicken and Quinoa Casserole
This one-pan casserole full of Southwestern flavors calls for ground turkey, but I am not a fan. There is something about it that always tastes a little too gamey. Since I use one pound of ground chicken instead, this easy Mexican quinoa casserole made the list.
7. Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash
This quinoa-stuffed acorn squash recipe from Herbs and Flour also calls for a pound of ground turkey, but I hope you’ll enjoy substituting ground chicken as much as I do in this healthy meal.
8. Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers
I also like to substitute ground chicken for ground turkey in this quinoa-stuffed bell pepper recipe from The Heirloom Pantry. If you are an alpha gal who is sensitive to dairy, be sure to replace the Greek yogurt and feta with plant-based alternatives.
9. Baked Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers
Looking for a clever way to use leftover quinoa? These quinoa-crusted chicken fingers from In the Kids Kitchen uses it in the breading of this classic comfort food and kid favorite.
10. Asian-Inspired Cashew Chicken with Quinoa
For a take-out food favorite made healthier at home, try this Asian-inspired cashew chicken recipe from The Soccer Mom Blog. You can pull it together in less than 30 minutes, and the candied cashews are even better than they sound.
Do You Like to Pair Quinoa with Chicken?
What’s your favorite quinoa recipe with chicken? Any tips to share about cooking quinoa with chicken? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.