Southwest Chipotle Quinoa and Black Beans


I can remember the days when I believed that “healthy” dishes had to be placed in a category completely separate from “delicious” and “richly flavorful” dishes.

It was a tough way of thinking because it meant that when I was going for the “delicious” and “richly flavorful” dishes, there was that really small voice in the back of my mind that said “this isn’t good for me” and therefore “I probably shouldn’t be eating this.”

My thinking has changed completely since those days (and I’m so much happier for it), especially after discovering several secrets to cooking nutrient-rich, plant-based, “healthy” recipes that also taste indulgent and full of flavor.

One big secret, which I used in this Southwest Chipotle Quinoa and Black Beans, is definitely the kitchen spice rack.


Seasonings and dried herbs are an easy, antioxidant-filled, cholesterol-free, fat-free, calorie-free way to add tons of tasty flavor to dishes.

(Bonus: you can always feel good about investing in seasonings since they last several months (forever!) when stored in a cool, dry, shaded spot.)


And this dish does have lots of rich, Southwestern, smoky flavor.

There’s hearty richness from black beans, and a bit of heat from chipotle pepper that’s balanced with a hint of sweetness from honey and sweet corn.

It’s a nutrition-filled “healthy” vegan dish that fits squarely in the “delicious” and “richly flavorful” categories too!

Here is the complete, printable recipe:

Southwest Chipotle Quinoa and Black Beans
Nutrition Information
  • Serving size: 4
  • Calories: 339
  • Fat: 13.3g
  • Saturated fat: 1.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 0mg
  • Sugar: 7.8g
  • Fiber: 7.9g
  • Protein: 10.7g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
Recipe type: Vegan (a clean, whole recipe)
Citric acid (from lime) - burns fat, boosts metabolism
Fiber (from black beans, sweet corn) - regulates and slows feelings of hunger,
rids the body of toxins
Folate (from zucchini) - supports a healthy-fuctioning heart, boosts brain function
Iron - (from black beans, quinoa) energizes the body and builds strong nails and
thick, healthy hair
Lutein (from sweet corn) - supports sharp, clear vision
Magnesium (from black beans) - increases energy levels, supports metabolism
Manganese (from zucchini) - an antioxidant that promotes a strong immune system,
builds strong and healthy bones, promotes high energy levels, and improves memory
Potassium (from zucchini) - maintains hydrated, smooth, supple skin
Protein - (from black beans, quinoa) builds collagen for smooth and youthful skin,
helps body feel fuller for longer

Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep: 13 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes

Yield: 4 main dish servings

Difficulty: Easy
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 small organic zucchini, diced
  • ¾ cup organic sweet corn kernels (frozen or fresh from the cob (and boiled or grilled))
  • 7 ounces organic black beans, thoroughly drained and rinsed
  • ½ chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon organic honey (or substitute agave)
  • 1 lime
  • Salt
  1. Add the quinoa and two cups of water to a saucepan. Season with salt. Add all of the seasonings including garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, and bay leaf. Stir until well combined. Bring water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring often, until all of the water is absorbed, about 10-12 minutes (there should not be any water remaining in the pot). At this point, the quinoa should be cooked (the quinoa is cooked when the spiral germ becomes visible around the grains.) Remove saucepan from heat and set aside (also remove the bay leaf and discard it).
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook until softened, about 2 minutes more. Add the black beans, corn, and chipotle and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Add the honey, season well with salt, and stir until well combined.
  3. Pour the black bean mixture into the saucepan containing the cooked quinoa. Add the juice of one lime and season with salt. Stir until well combined. Serve while still hot.

And for the step-by-step:


Begin with these ingredients.


Drain and thoroughly rinse some black beans.

chopping onion

Slice both ends off of the onion, cut it in half, and peel off the skin.

Then place one half flat-side-down on the cutting board and dice it up.


Next, chop both ends off of a zucchini and cut it in half.

Place each half flat-side-down on the cutting board and dice up each half.


Grab a boiled or grilled corn cob and hold it upright (stem-side-down) in a mixing bowl.

Then cut vertically down the cob, slicing off the corn kernels so that they fall into the bowl.

Time Saver: for a faster preparation, just use frozen sweet corn kernels instead.


Then grab one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.

Here’s what this ingredient looks like – – it’s a key to adding a really rich, smoky flavor to the recipe.

Cut it in half and use your knife to scrape out and discard all of the seeds, which are extremely spicy.


Then dice it up.

Use about half of one chipotle for medium heat.

And start with just a quarter of one pepper if you’d like the dish to be mild.

(You can always taste the dish at the end of cooking and add a bit more chipotle if you’d like more spiciness).


Then squeeze all of the juice from one lime.

(The lime is actually a key ingredient, adding yet another yummy, acidic contrast that complements the spicy chipotle and sweet corn).


Next, grab all of these seasonings from your spice rack.

Add a cup of quinoa and two cups of water to a saucepan.

Then toss in a pinch of salt and the tasty seasonings : garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, and a bay leaf.

Stir until everything is well combined, bring the water to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer.

Allow the quinoa to cook, stirring often, until all of the water is absorbed (there shouldn’t be any water remaining in the pot when the quinoa is cooked).

You’ll see that the quinoa is ready when the spiral germ becomes visible around the grains.

Then remove the saucepan from the heat (remember to take out the bay leaf and discard it!), and set the quinoa aside for the moment.


Meanwhile, as the quinoa is cooking away, heat a bit of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook until it’s softened.


Add the zucchini and cook a couple of minutes more.


Then toss in the black beans, corn (fresh from the cob or still frozen), and chipotle pepper and cook until everything is heated through.

Next, add a bit of honey for a little sweetness (it’s another key ingredient, since it’s such a yummy contrast to the spicy chipotle).

Or substitute: agave works perfectly in place of the honey.

Season everything well with salt and stir it all up.

Then pour the black bean mixture into the saucepan containing the cooked quinoa.

Add the fresh lime juice, season with salt, and stir until everything is well combined.


Then serve up this dish while it’s still hot!

The Mexican- and Southwest-inspired flavors in this recipe are so addictive.


The black beans taste rich and hearty, and the quinoa really soaks up all of the yummy seasonings.

Toss in freshness from the zucchini, plus sweetness from the corn and honey, plus smoky heat from the chipotle, plus tartness from the lime, and it all adds up to heaps of full, scrumptious flavor.


This one also holds up well and tastes great as leftovers heated up the following day, so I love to make extra!





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  1. September 3, 2014 / 7:53 am

    Can’t say quinoa is not one of my favourite new ingredients to work with 😀
    Got to try your recipe, it looks awesome!

    Choc Chip Uru

  2. September 3, 2014 / 9:15 am

    I am making this as soon as possible. It looks like a perfect pack-for-work one bowl lunch. So excited! Thanks!

  3. September 3, 2014 / 10:20 pm

    Now I have a recipe for all the quiona I just bought, yay!

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      September 4, 2014 / 8:14 am

      Perfect timing! Enjoy 🙂

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      September 5, 2014 / 9:06 am

      Thanks so much 🙂 That cajun cauliflower sounds amazing too!

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