Slow Cooker Quinoa Southwest Casserole

Slow Cooker Southwest Quinoa Casserole

My kids are fairly fearless tasters of new foods. People often think I have some miracle cure because my son is Autistic and many people with Autism have food aversions or a small list of foods that they will eat. I am not talking about the children and adults with Severe Food Aversions which affects about 20-25% of the population.

My son went through his picky phase from about 2 years-old to 4 years-old. During that time though I never wavered in my resolve to continue to serve a wide variety of food to him even when all he wanted to eat was chicken nuggets, pizza and pasta. Right from the beginning we didn’t make it a battle but rather had a “No Thank You Helping” of about 1 Tablespoon. The kids could taste the food and if they didn’t like it they could say so. But, we continually told him and his sister that they could have one food they didn’t have to taste. My son’s food was and still is ricotta cheese or anything made with it. My daughter still doesn’t care for anything with big chunks of raw onions or onions she can see.

I also encouraged my children to try to explain why they did or did not like a food. I gave them a food vocabulary to draw on. Was it too sweet? The texture of the food? The spices used in the dish? Was the temperature of the food too hot or too cold? They both use all those terms now when critiquing my cooking, restaurant food and their own dishes. They talk about texture, mouth feel, what spices need to be added or taken away to change the flavor. When my four year-old could say, “I don’t care for mashed potatoes because of the texture,” we knew we were making progress in his and our understanding of his food preferences.

They have both been in the grocery store and kitchen with me since they were little. I would let them choose the sides with certain dishes by giving them choices of 2-4 things. They still love picking out meals and sides when they have the chance. It gives them power in their eating and chances to practice simple decision-making with the little things when they are young so later in life when the decisions become bigger they have learned to think for themselves.

My daughter has been a big help in making dinner lately. I read her the recipe for this and even she said that it just sounded too simple.


This was amazing! It had a bit of heat and tons of flavor. My son added extra Siracha to his serving but for the rest of us it was perfectly spiced.

The hardest part of this casserole is that although you dump everything in at once you can’t just leave it all day to cook. It needs to be stirred once or twice while cooking to keep the edges from overcooking and it only cooks 3 hours on high. Do not cook it on low or leave it all day. It will become mushy and yucky.

I served this dish with a side of green beans and a green side salad.


  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 1-2 large red pepper, large dice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (15 oz. ) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
  • 1 (16 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz.) can of tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated for serving if desired


  1. Place quinoa, pepper, onion, beans, tomatoes, and corn in bowl of slow cooker.
  2. In a bowl mix together tomato paste, stock and spices together until well combined.
  3. Pour mixture over quinoa mixture and stir well.
  4. Cook on high about 3 hours until quinoa is cooked through. Stir dish at least 2-3 times while cooking to avoid edges from burning. Do not over cook or cook dish on low. The quinoa will over cook and become mushy.
  5. Serve with grated sharp cheddar cheese if desired.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. What a yummy dish, but what a wonderful way to work with your children! I love your way and the rules you have come up with, letting them chose things and the 1 Tbs. rule! Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. koolaidmoms says:

      Thank you! It’s not always been easy but he has lost his fears of most foods.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is awesome! wow what a huge accomplishment!


  2. Daisy9979 says:

    I love this recipe and love the story about your fearless eaters. I think it’s good for kids to try different foods and to explain what they like or don’t like about it rather than just not eating because it looks weird. I was not a fearless eater as a kid but I’m trying to be one as an adult 🙂 I think I might be trying out this recipe this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. koolaidmoms says:

      I also was not a fearless taster. I didn’t try broccoli until college! I became this way so my kids wouldn’t be like me. I still struggle with it but try really hard to fight the old habits sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry I clicked on your last comment and then it was lost! so really amazing job with your son!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like this recipe. Never found quinoa very interesting. It’s good that you kept the food serving varied and balanced 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. koolaidmoms says:

      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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