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Lemon Herb Quinoa with Asparagus







The following recipe (in my mind, it has SUMMER written all over it!) comes from the brand new book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide Quinoa Cookbook (Penguin, 2012) by The Bikini Chef herself, Susan Irby. Hopefully this recipe (and the gorgeous photo) will inspire you to try this not-so-common grain. If you make it, please send a shot of yourself (or friends and family) enjoying it.

Asparagus’ slightly bitter flavor is the perfect balance for tart lemon, sweet cilantro, and earthy quinoa.  Not only is this dish flavorful, it’s super healthy for you too.  Packed with antioxidants from asparagus, vitamin C, and the centerpiece of this dish ~ quinoa.  Quinoa is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids, is naturally gluten-free, and is high in fiber.  Add chopped grilled chicken to this recipe for extra protein. 

Makes 4 cups

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes


4 cups water

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

3 medium asparagus spears, stems trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons chopped white onion

¼ cup chopped red bell pepper

¼ cup chopped yellow bell pepper

2 teaspoons fine lemon zest

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Fill a medium mixing bowl with ice and add about 2 cups of water or enough to cover ice.  Set aside.

2. Fill a medium stockpot or saucepan halfway with water.  Place on high heat until boiling.  Add ½ teaspoon sea salt to the boiling water.  Quickly add asparagus pieces and boil for only a few seconds, about 15 seconds.  Quickly drain and transfer asparagus to the ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Drain thoroughly and set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine quinoa, white onion, and remaining 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer (or low).  Simmer for 15 minutes or until almost all liquid has been absorbed.  Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add asparagus, bell peppers, lemon zest, lemon juice, cilantro leaves, remaining teaspoon of salt, and black pepper to quinoa.  Stir well and serve in 1 cup servings, or as a side dish, serve in ½ cup servings.

Serving size: 1 cup as an entree

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 185

Carbohydrates: 34 g

Fat: 3 g

Fiber: 4 g

Protein: 7 g

Source: The Complete Idiot’s Guide Quinoa Cookbook (Penguin, 2012) by Susan Irby The Bikini Chef. To learn more about Susan, click here  

Do you eat quinoa? How do you like to prepare it?

About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized and award-winning health and nutrition expert, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books. An avid walker, she loves motivating others to #moveitorloseit. A book lover, she recently earned a certificate in children’s literature from Stony Brook Southampton and is currently working on several young adult novels. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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