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Quinoa Breakfast Bowl: A Fresh Start

July 13th, 2009

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

This is my new favorite weekend breakfast. A big bowl of nutty, warm quinoa, tenderly soaked in milk, fragranced with cinnamon and honey, and studded with toasted nuts and berries. If you’re unfamiliar with quinoa entirely–it is a supremely nutrient-packed grain that is most often found in Latin American cuisine. I tend to use it in the way I would rice or cous cous–cooked with lots of herbs and spices and topped off with fish (or prawns, or chicken) and vegetables. Like most grains, quinoa is pretty versatile, and you could easily play with flavor profiles.

I’d been meaning to make a breakfast porridge with quinoa for quite some time, and am so glad that I finally did. I was so pleased with my first experiment–on a Sunday morning–that I was eagerly waiting for the next weekend so that I could whip up another batch. This is the sort of breakfast that will make you feel satisfied in the way that you would after eating a big omelet, and also indulged–like you ate a warm, oaty scone. Quinoa is extremely filling, so this is a great meal to have before a long afternoon hike. Importantly, it’s cheap and easy. Many markets sell quinoa (which comes in a rusty red and light yellow color) in the bulk bins. I like to stock up on both kinds. I find that their taste does not vary greatly, but it’s fun to cook with different colors.

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

You could also make this with any nuts you choose–walnuts and hazelnuts would work beautifully. I’ve only made this with fresh blueberries and blackberries, but I imagine that dried fruits–cherries, figs–would be delectable as well.

I could go on and on about why I love this dish so much, but one of the last things I’ll say about it is that it’s perfect any time of year–cozy enough for a rainy winter day, and refreshing and light for a sunny summer morning.

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks
*in theory, this serves 4, but we tend to eat this between the two of us, so double or halve accordingly :)

1 cup of milk
1 cup of water
1 cup or red or yellow quinoa, rinsed
1 pint of mixed blackberries and blueberries
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (more to taste)
1/3 cup of chopped, toasted pecans
honey, to taste

1. Pour the milk, water and quinoa (stirring to combine) in a medium pot and bring the ingredients to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until 3/4ths of the liquid is absorbed by the grains.
3. Meanwhile, toast the nuts by spreading them on a cookie sheet and baking at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes.
4. When the quinoa is done, take the pot off of the heat and let it stand, with the cover on, for about five minutes.
5. Take the pecans out of the oven.
6. Pour in the blackberries, sprinkle with cinnamon and stir in the pecans. Next, add about a teaspoon of honey and stir to mix.
7. Scoop into bowls and serve with additional berries and honey for the table.

Musical Pairings: Peru Negro Sangre de un Don + Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

width=200I’d probably tried quinoa in any fashion when Kasey and I first started dating. Kasey would (and does) frequently prepare it as a side dish for many meals as a substitute for grains or rice. Prior to meeting Kasey, I had never so much as heard of this awesome grain. And if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend picking it up from your market: it is delicious, highly nutritious, easy to prepare and works as a great side or substitute for rice and other grains. However, I think I only realized quinoa’s true potential and versatility when visiting Peru in 2007 with my friend Angela. Quinoa originated in the Andes and was an extremely important food for the Incas. So while hiking the Inca trail, it was fitting that my group ate quinoa as a cereal-like side with dinner and again as a relatively sweet, tasty drinkable porridge for breakfast. For this reason, there could be no better pairing for this quinoa recipe than Peru Negro – Sangre de un Don. For the complete review, check out Musical Pairings‘s home. –Matthew


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11229168317354334361 RB

    That serious looks amazing. I've been looking for ways to cook Quinoa…glad we connected over Vook–even if just for this recipe!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Thanks, Rachel! I'm glad we connected through Vook, too. To all readers, I should point out that there is a factual error in my post–quinoa is grain-like, but is not in fact a true grain. Everything about it being highly nutritious is true, though :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14832973095631684128 Q.

    Wow – this looks so hearty and nutritious, like the sort of thing that could keep you going for hours and hours. I could stand to eat a few more of these breakfasts (and less of the icing-covered ones from Starbucks.) Thanks for the motivation:)

  • http://prettygreengirl.wordpress.com/ Janet

    Yum! I've made a quinoa porridge from Eating Well a few times (http://prettygreengirl.com/2009/04/14/passover-inspired-quinoa-porridge/)and really like it. I had a friend over once and served it with apple butter and homemade pecan butter. Yum!Samovar has one on their menu, I believe. I want to try it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07405593352652538890 Kara

    Red Quinoa is my FAVE. I was excited to see this post. I am a nursing mama and rely on it for my milk supply. Always looking for a new recipe to try with it. Would love to see what else you do with it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Q: I'm glad that this post is motivational! I know that it can be hard to try something 'healthy'–but you might be surprised at just how satisfying this is.Janet: your porridge looks yummy! I love the addition of the apples. I've made oatmeal with sauteed apples in the past and I love it! Kara: Quinoa is super diverse- and I am always coming up great recipes. One of my favorites is a pilaf of sorts, packed with fresh veggies and herbs. BTW, I had no idea until your comment that quinoa can actually increase your milk supply–it really is a powerhouse.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12992918908739085132 Lauren

    That looks like major comfort food! I'm adding quinoa to the shopping list. Always nice to have another GF option.I'm betting this would work with millet, too! Have some left over, and will have it doctored up like this tomorrow… :) Thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02211559777528646914 Katie

    This looks delicious! I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate whole grains into breakfast, so I will definitely be trying this out. This is perfect timing, too, because berry season is just beginning here in Michigan.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Lauren- I've actually never cooked with millet before–would love to hear how this recipe turns out with it!Katie – berry season has been in full swing in California, and I must say that I can never get enough. For this dish, the more, the merrier.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17446369779242559877 heidileon

    I'm looking forward to weekend too! (to try your quinoa)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07795596315329913917 Kevin

    Quinoa works really well for a breakfast like this!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05277697801687623913 Michelle

    This looks beyond delicious! I love quinoa and maybe this will actually motivate me to cook… haha.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Heidileon: I hope that your weekend comes fast :) Kevin: I'm glad you think so! I am looking forward to experimenting more.Michelle: This dish is so simple and nutritious that it's definitely worth the extra 15 minutes of your morning–particularly a Saturday morning!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04469271817410562544 JasonB

    as a gastric bypass patient (surgery 3-19-09) and having lost a whole person already, Quinoa is quickly becoming part of my protein dense diet. Rice and most other grains are a no-no after surgery, and i find quinoa to not only be supremely palatable, but very adaptable and easily prepared. I forget who said it, so credit can't be given…but I like my food like my women…cheap AND easy. Quinoa fits this bill completely. Thanks for the breakfast idea…as I was staring down a bowl of irish oats today (if you have not had steel cut oats…you must) thinking "I wish these had more protein" when I thought about cooking quinoa with milk to make a "porridge"…you beat me to it! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Hi Jason,First off, congrats on your successful surgery and a new start to life! Quinoa is extremely easy to prepare, and it's so nutritious (and delicious!). I hope you enjoy this recipe.