Monday, March 2, 2015

Quinoa & Blackened Tilapia Bowl

We all want to eat healthier, but it's hard, right? So many "healthy" recipes are full of ingredients you've never heard of, and you want a meal the family will still eat. So how do you do it?

Often the answer comes down to swapping out traditional ingredients for healthier alternatives.

Mexican food is a favorite, but it's often not particularly healthy. But with a few modifications it can be. That is the idea behind the quinoa and blackened tilapia bowl. It's truthfully a cross between blackened tilapia (a favorite dish in our family) and a Mexican bowl, swapping out the rice for the healthier quinoa.

If you're not familiar with quinoa, it's a type of seed that has minimal flavor in and of itself (similar to rice), and is kind of spongy in texture. Sometimes it tastes kind of nutty, but mostly it's rather bland. Thankfully it easily takes on the flavors that surround it, and it's incredibly filling. I can only eat a small amount before I'm stuffed. Why eat it anyway? It's high in protein and fiber, which makes it a healthier alternative to many types of rice.

This meal really has four parts: the blackened tilapia (which requires a rub), the quinoa prep, a lighter version of guacamole, and bowl assembly.

2-4 tilapia fillets
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups chicken broth
1 can corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tomato, diced
¼ cup cilantro

Rub Ingredients
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Light Guacamole Ingredients
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Greek yogurt
1 large avocado
1 garlic clove
1 chipotle pepper
1½ Tbsp lime juice (or one squeezed lime)
½ jalapeno, seeded and diced
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Prepare the quinoa by rinsing 1 cup of uncooked quinoa in a strainer. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with  2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cook covered for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for five minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa. This will make 3 cups cooked quinoa.
  2. Next, prepare the light guacamole by combining all the guacamole ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the tilapia rub by combining the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle the rub over each piece of tilapia and lightly press. Cook the tilapia in a pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side. You can also cover the fish which can help lock in some moisture.
  4. Prepare the bowls by placing quinoa on the bottom. Add the beans, corn, tomato and cilantro. Lay a tilapia filet on top and add the light guacamole as desired.
The dish is an interesting combination of textures, spices and heat. The quinoa takes on the flavors of the bowl ingredients. The blackened tilapia can be rather spicy so the cool guacamole creates a nice balance. It's definitely a healthy dish that's packed with flavor and color. 

One thing to be careful of is to not overload the bowl with quinoa. It is deceptively filling. It seems so small, like it couldn't possibly fill you up, but it will. Let the other ingredients and flavors take the dominant role.


Masshole Mommy said...

That sounds delicious. I can't wait to try this.

2justByou said...

Sounds good! Nice that you added the quinoa. I've been trying to add that to the menu more lately.

Jillian@FoodFolksandFun said...

Yum, this is my type of dinner!

Janet Krugel said...

I need to make this soon!

Integrated Learning Strategies said...

This looks amazing! I am going to add it to my menu. I started eating a lot of tailapia for awhile because it was so good for you then I got tired of my recipe so I'll try this one to get me eating it again. Looks delicious!

Heather Jones said...

We like tilapia. Used to eat it for years and ate too much, I kinda got sick of it. But we started eating it again last week. Looks like a great recipe.

MikiHope said...

Tilapia is one of the few fish I will eat. I never tried it this way but I do like Mexican so I probably would love it. Still trying to convince myself to make the quinoa that is in my pantry--maybe I will try it with this dish!

mail4rosey said...

I've never made tilapia, crazy, right? My DIL just loves it though and I've already sent her the link to the post. :)

Erica S ( said...

I love quinoa - great idea to do up a Mexican bowl!

Stephanie Keeping said...

Can't wait to make this. My family will love it!

Crystal said...

We've been eating fish more frequently and trying to cut back on things like red meat. This sounds just delightful.

Emily Glover said...

I'm not a big fan of fish but my husband is and he would love this! I'll have to give him the recipe for next time I'm out of town and he cooks fish!

Emily Thompson said...

we are super into quinoa right now!! I use it in place of all rice now... this sounds yummy!!

Britney Mills said...

Yum! This sounds so amazing! I love tilapia and quinoa is probably great with it!

Stephanie Pass said...

My husband just loves Tilapia. He'd flip for this. I need to make it soon!

Cathy Mini said...

Wowza this sounds amazing! Pinning for later so I can make it this weekend! Thanks!!

Yvonne [Tried and Tasty] said...

I'm a huge seafood fan, so this is right up my alley!

Maddi'sMommy said...

I just realized I haven't made fish in a while, this is the perfect excuse!

Mistee Dawn said...

This looks so good. I will have to make it for my husband, he loves tilapia.

Savory Experiments said...

What a great and healthy option. We love fish in our house. Pinning!

Aimee @ Like Mother Like Daughter said...

This sounds absolutely amazing. I love tilapia, but haven't tried it blackened.

JaimeLovesStuff said...

That looks delicious! I hate that I am allergic to fish- but I will definitely make this with chicken. Yummy!

Caitlin Fore said...

YUM!!! This sounds and looks like a super great recipe!! I will have to try this one out!

Tiffany at The House Down the Lane said...

I love Tipalia! We eat it about once a week, so I'm thrilled to have found a new recipe for it. Thanks for sharing with us the Merry Monday Link Party! Hope to see you again on Sunday night for another rockin' party! :0)

Alayna said...

That looks fantastic. I'm a big fan of rice bowl/burrito bowls but never thought to use fish in them. Thanks for sharing with us at the #homeMattersParty link party