The Way


Quinoa with Shiitakes and Leeks for Better Immunity

By Travis Metzger /

Quinoa with Shiitakes and Leeks for Better Immunity

The recipes on The Way are intended as an East meets West look at food and its relationship to health and nutrition. Food is powerful, and every bite can either greatly benefit your system or effectively work against it. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, nutrition is tremendously healing in nature and remarkably adaptable to individual needs. Based on 3,000 years of study, TCM seeks to treat the whole person rather than just the symptom to support and strengthen your body and your energy, or Qi.

The human body has an impressive defense mechanism known as the immune system. Your lifestyle can affect how well your immune system can protect you from bacteria, injuries, poor diet, overwork, lack of exercise and sleep, and even emotions and social habits. 

In Chinese theory your immune system is called your Wei qi. It needs to be supplied with air, water, exercise, and nutritious food to ensure that external forces do not cause illnesses or impair the body’s ability to heal itself.

While we pay more attention to the health of our immune system during the winter — cold and flu season, anyone? — it’s vital that it’s given attention continually, as we’re susceptible to viruses and infections year round. 

Good nutrition is essential to a strong immune system.  You can help protect yourself against illness and boost your immunity by including foods that are filled with nutrient-rich energy in your diet. 

Quinoa is one of the world’s most popular health foods - gluten free, it contains all nine essential amino acids and is packed with protein. Shiitake mushrooms support the spleen and strengthen your qi.  Mushrooms are a good source of germanium, an element that improves cellular oxygenation and enhances immunity.  The silky smooth bell pepper vinaigrette brings balance to the dish and when paired with the quinoa, leeks, and goat cheese, you’ve got an immunity strengthening crowd pleaser on your hands!

Chinese Medicine Benefit: 


 Strengthens Yang and Qi

Shiitake mushroom

Strengthens Qi and Spleen


Promotes Qi circulation, Counteracts cold


Strengthens lung and spleen, promotes Qi circulation, removes toxins

Chicken stock

 Strengthens spleen, tonifies Qi

Roasted red peppers 

Counteracts cold

Dijon mustard
Strengthens lung, Promotes Qi circulation
Red wine vinegar Promotes Qi circulation, counteracts cold, removes toxins




 Ingredients                            Garlic


Quinoa with Roasted Leeks, Shiitakes, Goat Cheese and a Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette


red pepper vinaigrette

Serving size

Prep Time / Cook Time
15 minutes / 30 minutes

Ingredients (quinoa)
1 C quinoa
1 1/2 C shiitake mushroom
1 1/2 C leeks
2 cloves garlic
1/2 C goat cheese
1 ½ - 2 C chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients (roasted red pepper vinaigrette)
2-3 roasted red peppers
1-2 cloves garlic
1 T dijon mustard
¼-½ C red wine vinegar depending on acidity level you like
½-¾ C canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse quinoa and simmer with chicken stock until stock is absorbed, season with salt and pepper

Roast shiitakes and leeks with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Add minced garlic 75% through the roasting process, stir a bit and continue roasting being careful not to burn the garlic.

Roasted red pepper vinaigrette - blend peppers, garlic, mustard, S&P and vinegar until smooth then slowly add the oil while the blender is running.


Travis Metzger is a Minneapolis-based chef and co-founder of DAO Labs. An avid health enthusiast, he’s juiced and eaten his way to health, combining his passion for fresh ingredients with flavors that make the palate sing. He combines his training at the New England Culinary Institute with his frequent travels to and throughout Asia to create recipes for The Way and DAO Labs that bridge the culinary aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine to the western diet and ingredient options. Travis can be reached at

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