Vietnamese Inspired Quinoa Bowl

Guys, I’m not one to outright brag. But I just created my absolute greatest recipe ever. EVER!

Let me give some back story. I recently became rather obsessed with Vietnamese food after visiting an MSG and gluten free Vietnamese spot near Nick’s apartment. As I became more familiar with the cuisine, I realized that many Vietnamese dishes – like bun noodle dishes and pho – are naturally gluten free. Since I don’t have to worry about cross contamination, I started frequenting other Vietnamese restaurants too.

Like the enthusiastic home chef that I am, I began thinking about the flavor profile when I wasn’t actually eating the food. I started researching the most common ingredients in Vietnamese dishes with the intent to create my own versions.

I’ve been making a lot of new recipes from my fellow healthy food bloggers lately and as a result, I have a refrigerator full of leftovers and odds and ends. When it came time to make dinner tonight, I pulled everything out and assessed the situation:


I had some quinoa, a couple slices of meatloaf, cilantro, chopped red pepper, half a carrot, half a lime, garlic, and a small piece of ginger. This is when I got really excited. I can totally make this into something Vietnamese! How you may ask? Well, with the help of these trusty friends:

20130615-191706.jpgThat’s fish sauce, coconut aminos, and coconut oil, basking in the heavenly glow they so fully deserve.

I started by sauteing the garlic and ginger in the coconut oil. After a couple minutes, I grated the carrot into the skillet and mixed everything around before mixing in the red pepper, cut into thin slices.


This is where the fun begins! After a minute or two I drizzled in a few large dashes of coconut aminos and a couple small dashes of fish sauce and stirred to coat the veggies. Things are starting to smell Vietnamese in this kitchen! Continue to stir frequently until veggies are tender-crisp.

Next, I cut a slice of meatloaf and crumbled it into the skillet.


I allowed the meatloaf to warm up a little bit, but didn’t wait very long before I added the quinoa. The meat is already cooked and you don’t want it getting too dry!

IMG_1950Finally, stir in half of the cilantro! Let the flavors marinate together for a minute before you taste and adjust accordingly. Mine was a little dry, so I added a small amount of extra coconut oil.

IMG_1959Dinner is served! Top with the remaining cilantro and lime wedges (if desired). My only regret about this dish is not making enough. Since I was using leftovers I made just one serving – had I made two I definitely would have finished both in one sitting!

Vietnamese Quinoa Bowl

(Serves 2)

1 and 3/4 cup cooked quinoa

2 slices leftover meatloaf (or 1/3 lb. cooked, seasoned ground beef)

2 tablespoon coconut oil

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch piece ginger, grated

1 carrot, shredded

1/2 large red pepper, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon coconut aminos or tamari, more to taste

1/2 teaspoon fish sauce, more to taste

3 tablespoons cilantro (fresh coriander), chopped

lime wedges (optional)

Note: When I made this dish, I did not measure out the coconut aminos or fish sauce, but simply drizzled them into the skillet. I have therefore made my best conservative estimation for the recipe. Fish sauce in particular has a very intense flavor, so it’s better to start small and add more after giving it a taste! Also, if you are using leftovers like I did, don’t get too caught up on having the exact right amount of the ingredients. Use what you have and you can adjust the seasoning accordingly at the end!

Saute the garlic and ginger in the coconut oil over medium high heat, turning down to medium once it becomes highly aromatic. Add the grated carrot and red pepper, stirring frequently. After one minute, add the coconut aminos and fish sauce, continuing to stir.

When the vegetables are tender-crisp, add the crumbled meatloaf or cooked ground beef and stir. When the meat is warmed stir in the quinoa. Continue to stir-fry for one to two minutes before mixing in 1 and 1/2 tablespoons cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve topped with remaining cilantro and lime wedges (if desired).

I’ve shared this recipe with this week’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.