by | May 30, 2014 | 26 comments

Have you ever heard the phrase “complete protein” and wondered what it meant?  If so, you’re in luck, because for Foodie Friday, I’m going to briefly explain, then give you a recipe featuring one of my favorite complete proteins!

what is a complete protein

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and there are 20 amino acids that can combine to form different types of protein.  Our bodies can actually manufacture 11 of those amino acids, so the other 9 are called “essential amino acids.”  We must get these essential amino acids from our food (or supplements) to survive.  If any food has all 9 essential amino acids, it is called a complete protein.

This Greatist article cites several vegetarian complete proteins, including quinoa, soy, hemp, chia, and even rice and beans), and also points out that you don’t really need to worry about complete proteins too much.  However, it’s still nice to know that you’re getting all the amino acids your body needs – so load up on these delicious foods!

Quinoa is one of my favorites, and I already have several recipes featuring quinoa on my blog. Check out:

And today you get one more!  I made this in Colorado, and will definitely be making it again.  It’s a quick way to pack in your veggies and your protein, and it’s a crowd-pleaser, too!  So next time you’re tight on time but want a tasty and nutritious, protein-packed meal, try this one out!

30 minute mexican quinoa skillet.jpg

30-Minute Mexican Quinoa Skillet

30-Minute Mexican Quinoa Skillet

by Megan Lyons

Prep Time: 10

Cook Time: 20

Keywords: saute entree low-carb nut-free soy-free vegetarian gluten-free vegetables eggs quinoa cauliflower

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cups cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups spinach, packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup salsa


1.Chop all your vegetables into bite-sized pieces.

2.Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and seasoned salt, and sauté until onion begins to soften.

3.Add chopped cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, cumin, and garlic powder, and sauté another 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.

4.Add in cooked quinoa, beans, spinach, and cherry tomatoes, and sauté until heated through.

5.Add salsa and stir until combined.

6.Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, fry each egg separately.

7.Remove quinoa dish from heat and divide onto 4 plates. Top each plate with a fried egg and serve!

Each serving contains 317 calories, 10g fat, 41g carbs, and 18g protein.

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So tell me in the comments … Do you like quinoa?  Did you know the definition of a complete protein before today?  What is your favorite protein source?


  1. Amy @ The Little Honey Bee

    We have blogging vibes – I talked about complete protein on Wednesday 🙂 I love how you do step-by-step photos for your recipes… definitely learning from this!

    • lindsay

      and i talked about it a few weeks ago. WOOHOO! You two COMPLETE me. 😉

      • Megan Lyons

        While I certainly didn’t mean to “copy,” if there were ever two bloggers I’d want to be like, you two would be top of my list! 🙂

        • lindsay

          oh you didn’t copy at all! great minds think alike! xxoo

    • Megan Lyons

      Thank you, friend! I like doing step-by-step photos for readers’ benefit, but also for mine – so I remember what I did. haha!!

  2. Davida @ The Healthy Maven

    Ah good to know my quinoa consumption is worthwhile! My tummy has been wacko all week and I’ve been eating quinoa for breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner! For some reason it seems to settle it and now I can feel better knowing i’m getting complete protein 🙂 I always learn something new from you!

    • Megan Lyons

      Glad you learned something, Davida! Sorry your tummy has been upset – must be the stress from the ebook! So soon!

  3. Kat

    great post girlie – aminos and complete proteins are SO important!

  4. Carmy

    I’ve been meaning to try quinoa for a while now (as it’s always been advertised as healthily and etc) but never got the chance.

    • Megan Lyons

      I hope you try it, Carmy! It’s delicious, easy, and healthy – three of my favorite qualities!

  5. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

    I’m all about my Aminos! They are a noticeable help with muscle building and recovery when I’m lifting heavy.

    This looks so good! You know I love that #yolkporn. 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      As I told you on Twitter, the #yolkporn was purely for the pictures … I went back and flipped the egg over and cooked it through afterwards. Oops – bad food blogger!!

  6. Alisha @ Alisha's Appetite

    Love quinoa salads! I know that quinoa is considered a “complete protein” but it’s nice to know that we don’t really even have to worry about it too much. No need to stress!

  7. Michael Anderson

    I’ve mentioned before that I LOVE quinoa … but my family is less enamored due to the texture and aftertaste. I have found a couple of recipes the boys like, but Lisa just can’t do it 🙂

    There are only three quinoa meals for me … breakfast, lunch and dinner 🙂

    Crap, too many smileys again! 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      Aftertaste?!? I get that there may be a funky texture for quinoa (it doesn’t bother me!), but I’ve never even thought of it having an aftertaste! Are you rinsing it before cooking to get off the saponins?

      • Michael Anderson

        Same here – even by itself I don’t feel there is an aftertaste, so I am wondering if it reacts with Lisa in some way …

        The first time I cooked it I didn’t rinse and it was funky, washing it makes it one of my favorite things to eat.

  8. Bre & Ree

    I do like quinoa, although I don’t eat it very often=( Thank you for sharing this recipe, it looks delicious and is great inspiration for eating more quinoa. Have a great weekend!

    • Megan Lyons

      Hope it inspires you to make some more quinoa, Bre! I like making it on Sundays and having it in Tupperwares for the week!

  9. Arman @ thebigmansworld

    I swear my body is weird- I love quinoa but it tends to give me stomach pain sometimes- it’s hit and miss! Cheers for the information- I knew rice and beans together formed one but not quinoa- always a wealth of knowledge, my brusselS sprout.

    • Megan Lyons

      I don’t think your body is weird – different things react to different people in very different ways! At least you know quinoa isn’t right for you. I’m sure the answer is yes, but it’s worth a check – did you rinse it to remove the saponins first?

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Megan Lyons Headshot

Hi! I'm Megan Lyons,

the voice behind The Lyons’ Share. I love all things health, wellness, and fitness-related, and I hope to share some of my passion with you. Thanks for stopping by!
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