A grain cultivated in high-altitude areas, quinoa packs a nutritious punch. It's a good source of protein, dietary fiber, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and numerous other vitamins and minerals. According to researchers at Purdue University, the Incan armies would march for days, fueled only by "war balls" -- a combination of quinoa and fat. Cooking quinoa in a slow-cooker along with meats, vegetables, fruits and legumes allows you to provide your family with nutritious meals, with very little effort.
Vegetarian Soups and Stews
Quinoa makes a wonderful addition to almost any slow-cooker vegetarian soup or stew. For recipes with beans, such as vegetarian chili or lentil soup, use 1/2 cup quinoa for every four to six servings. For vegetable soups, use 3/4 cup quinoa for every four to six servings. If your original recipe does not call for either rice or quinoa, make sure to add enough water or broth for the quinoa to absorb. Use at least 4 cups of liquid for thicker chili and stews and at least 6 cups of liquid for soups.
Chicken with Quinoa Soup
Chicken quinoa soup works well in any season. For the liquid, use a combination of chicken broth and water. If you're preparing this meal for adults only, add some dry white wine. Add chicken thighs or breasts, quinoa, onions, and whatever fresh or frozen vegetables you have on hand to the slow-cooker. In the summer, try corn, carrots, green beans and peas. For a winter version, use turnips, cabbage and broccoli. Season your soup with thyme, and serve it alongside a crisp green salad with light ranch dressing.
Beef Stew with Quinoa
As an alternative to beef-barley stew, make beef stew with quinoa in the slow-cooker. Because the quinoa will naturally thicken the stew, there is no need to add flour, cornstarch, arrowroot or another thickening agent. The basic ingredients are stew beef, quinoa, beef broth, tomato paste, carrots, mushrooms, onion and garlic. If you want, add potatoes and turnips. Season the stew with salt, pepper and thyme or cumin.
Cook your quinoa in the slow-cooker overnight for a delicious, hot breakfast. For the liquid, use water or try a combination of water and orange juice or soy milk. Add dried fruits such as apricots, dates, raisins and cranberries. For an additional protein source, add nuts, such as Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans or almonds. Serve the quinoa with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.