Does anyone else have the problem where they hoard random food items and then end up with a cabinet full of random things and nothing they actually want to eat at that moment? I do it all the time and then I end up with tons of obscure ingredients I don’t know what to do with. I tend to get overwhelmed when I start having too many things or my surroundings start to get cluttered. Thus, I’ve decided when I’m at the store I’m only going to buy vegetables and the super basics to force me to use up my extra food that’s been at the back of the cabinet!

It’s going well so far, but I still have lots to use up! On the bright side, I’ve spent way less on groceries and I’ve stopped shopping with meals for the next week in mind when I go, always settling on only buying missing items from a recipe I already have in mind.

I ended up with a jar filled with red quinoa. I think I decided I was going to try to like quinoa again this summer and bought it for some recipe. I’ve had a bunch of it sitting around since then. The first thing I made with it were these Spicy Sweet Potato and Red Quinoa Burgers (vegan and gluten free) from the Stacie Michelle blog. They were pretty yummy, but then I forgot about the last two in the fridge and when I discovered them again they had grown some new friends to keep them company. Oops. Hence the need for the using up of all the things!

I have a love of nachos, so I decided to turn the quinoa into a nacho accompaniment. Inspired by this recipe for Red Quinoa tacos, I created my own version. The original recipe there called for taco seasoning and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t have at the moment. I did a quick Google of what’s in taco seasoning and then just threw a bunch of stuff together that seemed right because I didn’t have a lot of that stuff either. I even used one of the jalapenos that’s still growing on my balcony (not for much longer)!

This vegan taco meat actually came out so good I made it twice! I threw it on top of some nachos with homemade vegan cheese sauce and voila! The second time I added some kidney beans to it. Delicious! I left it out the second time and my flatmate swooped in and ate some in the middle of the night saying it was so good she couldn’t help herself, so it’s been officially approved!

Red Quinoa Taco Meat (Gluten-free)

Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 servings


  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno de-seeded and chopped very small or minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 2-3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • water as needed
  • salt to taste


  • Rinse dry quinoa under water well for one minute. This helps remove any bitter taste.
  • Bring water and quinoa to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes until all water is absorbed. Set aside off the heat for 5 minutes; uncover and fluff with a fork.
  • While quinoa is cooking, heat oil in a big frying pan on high. Add chopped onion, pepper and jalepeno and turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until slightely softened, 3-5 minutes, then add garlic, stir and saute again for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add dried cumin, paprika, coriander and oregano, stir and simmer for 30 seconds.
  • Add tomato paste, stir and simmer again.
  • Add the finished quinoa and a few tablespoons of water if it starts burning.
  • Simmer until everything is well combined and the flavors have meshed, about 3-4 minutes
  • Serve in tacos, burritos, on top of nachos on salads or eat alone, the possibilities are endless!