Warming and Healthy Quinoa

Happy New Year!

I thought it would be good to start the new year with something healthy.
Don’t worry it wont last long, I like my sugary treats too much to become a full time health fanatic. However, some so called super foods have successfully found their way in to my kitchen and gluten free quinoa is one of them (though it is not as photogenic as I’d like it to be…).

I discovered it as a breakfast option when I had the pleasure of visiting an Ayurvedic health spa in Germany. They were quite peculiar about their food in this spa, for example eating desserts before mains, but every morning they served us what they called “warm muesli”. I think it is better described as warm quinoa porridge but either way I very much enjoyed it. It is very filling – quinoa being high in protein helps with that – and as it is made with cinnamon, coconut and vanilla it is really tasty too.

On my last day I asked the kitchen for the recipe and was told that it’s often made up as they go along by adding different fruit, compote or even jam depending on what’s available. But the main principle is cooking quinoa with desiccated coconut and adding flavour with cinnamon, vanilla extract and fruit. In the spa they usually used agave syrup to sweeten the quinoa but when I don’t have that at hand I find that maple syrup works very well too. I recommend using red quinoa in my recipe as I find it has a slightly nuttier flavour but any quinoa would work in the same way.

This bowl of warming vanilla flavoured comfort food makes for a nice brunch on a cold and grey winter morning.

For one very generous portion – or two small ones – you’ll need:

  •  1/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 2 plums – or any other fresh fruit you fancy (I found apricots worked well too)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • maple or agave syrup to taste 

Put the quinoa, coconut and cinnamon stick in a saucepan on the stove and cover with 1 cup of boiling water and leave to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. You may find that you need to add a little more water as the quinoa cooks and absorbs the water. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want the quinoa to burn to the bottom of the pan as the water has dried up!

Cut the plums (or other fruit) into small pieces and add to simmering quinoa for the last 10 minutes along with the vanilla essence.

Please note, that if you are using a soft fruit such as mango or berries and you don’t want them going too soft/ falling apart, you may want to cook them for less than 10 minutes so maybe add them for only the last 5 minutes.

The quinoa will need about 30 minutes in total to be cooked through – you want a risotto like texture, with the quinoa soft and the water (or at least most of it) absorbed.

Add agave or maple syrup to sweeten and enjoy!


2 thoughts on “Warming and Healthy Quinoa

  1. Yum! Have made this the last few mornings, initially with more curiosity than anticipation… And was surprised to discover it is delicious. I only had plain quinoa, but browned it slightly in a hot pan befor adding the water as I find it makes it more nutty. For fruit I used nectarines which are currently in season down here, and then finished with maple syrup.
    Thanks for this light and nutrious recipe. Love it!

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