Almond Milk Quinoa Breakfast with Fresh Fruit and Toasted Pecans

QuinoaBreakfast_WM-3-by Meeta K. Wolff

“Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk” - Michael Pollan, Rule 36

I instantly cringe as I remember eating bowls of Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms as a growing child all those years ago. Although my mum was particular about our meals and paid attention to eating well and healthy, somehow this did not apply to breakfast. Growing up in the early 80s we were subjected to the common, popular TV commercials - bright, gaudy and colorful. The cereal commercials always had my brother and I proverbially eating out of their bowls. My mother, usually strict and alert, snapped, crackled and popped with our selection of breakfast cereals.

I am currently reading Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules - An Eater’s Manual” and find myself both nodding in agreement (“Have a glass of wine with dinner”) and snickering at being caught (“Stop eating before you are full”). There are quite a few rules that I would like to underlie in thick red marker, one of them:

“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”

A rule I actually learnt when I first moved to Germany. Although there will be arguments by some researchers on how effective this rule is, I have personally found that starting the day on a high note with a tasty and healthy breakfast really adds a solid basis to my day. There are days when I will miss or skip lunch depending on my workload so it is often vital that I breakfast well.

QuinoaBreakfast_WM-6 by Meeta K. Wolff QuinoaBreakfast_WM-4-by Meeta K. Wolff

Staying away from the sugar-loaded cereal available on the supermarket shelves, I often make my own granola or muesli that both Soeren and I enjoy with lots of fruit and yogurt. For the sake of convenience I do have ready made muesli from my organic store, with no added sugar, additives or coloring, in the pantry for those days when the homemade granola jar is empty. We add our drizzle of maple syrup or honey when sweetening is required. As long as it does not snap, crackle or pop I can live with it.

This winter however, we discovered the sweeter side of quinoa, a grain I have loved using in salads, and savory dishes in the past. I was craving porridge on a cold winter day but my pantry was on an all time low - I was out of oats, spelt flakes and amaranth. Finding 1/2 a packet of tri-color organic quinoa, I decided to create a breakfast out of it. At first I was thinking on the basis of a savory dish, much like eggs benedict, with spinach and poached eggs but both Soeren and I were really craving a sweet breakfast - well ... a porridge.

QuinoaBreakfast_WM-5-by Meeta K. Wolff

A sweet quinoa breakfast porridge using almond milk and fresh fruit, a drizzle of maple syrup was the way to go. I was keen on experiencing how my favorite grain would taste with sweeter ingredients. The concept of quinoa porridge is not a new one, as I found out while Googling it for this post.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not actually a true grain but rather a plant related to chard and spinach. Although the leaves of this plant are edible, the sweet, nutty seeds harvest all the attention. Well it’s easy to see why: Quinoa is versatile, being used in breakfasts, pilafs, muffins and everything in between. The are protein-packed and work fantastically in hot cereal, dinner salads, and sweet puddings. There is a darker side to Quinoa though.

Being a gluten free “miracle grain” it has garnered a lot of attention and over the past years the demand of this “grain” has increased immensely. Jenn over at Jenn’s Cuisine talks about the conflicts and problems that are arising from the large demands on Quinoa and the consequences that follow. It’s a fantastic article helping us understand and maybe make us wiser consumers.

 QuinoaBreakfast_WM-1-by Meeta K. Wolff

For us at home, quinoa is not everyday food. We are lucky not to have any dietary issues and can use the other wide varieties of grains available. Quinoa, is treated as a luxury item in our household and we’ll indulge in it infrequently.

In Food Rules, Michael Pollan reminds us to “Pay more, eat less.” Perhaps the most unwelcome advice of them all and a rule that will aggravate some of us making us think how can we possibly pay more for food. It’s a rule I have followed for myself over several years and the idea behind the rule is worth looking into deeper. Fact is better food, which measured by taste or nutritional quality will often cost more, as they have been grown or raised less intensively and with more care. As shameful as it is, many in the western world cannot afford to eat well, but most of us can. Those of us who can afford to eat well ... should be encouraged to do so.

So instead of eating cheaper priced steaks 4 times a week we should limit ourselves to eating less meat during the week, and when we do go buy our steaks we should pay more for really good quality meat where we know the origins of the animal and that the meat comes from certified farms (organic or not). Basically, know what you are putting in your mouth!

Which brings me back to quinoa: know what the consequences are, make wise choices and pay more for quality rather than quantity. I am not preaching … it’s want I remind myself everyday.

 

Recipe: Almond Milk Quinoa Breakfast with Fresh Fruit, Cinnamon, Pecans and Maple Syrup

Printable version of recipe here

QuinoaBreakfast_WM-3-by Meeta K. Wolff

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 200g quinoa, rinsed well
  • 400 ml almond milk + more for pouring over cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1 cinnamon stick + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon for sprinkling
  • 120g pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • Fresh fruit, I used a berry mix, banana and mango chunks
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, optional

Method:

  1. Combine quinoa, almond milk, cinnamon stick and vanilla seeds and the pod in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 15 minutes until most of the the milk has been absorbed and the quinoa can be fluffed with a fork. Remove and discard cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pod.
  2. Divide quinoa into bowls then sprinkle with ground cinnamon, cover with fresh fruit, pecans, and a few extra splashes of almond milk. Drizzle maple syrup and serve warm.

Note: Try this with your favorite kind of milk: soy, coconut, low-fat etc. I also love adding different spices like cardamom or nutmeg or fruit for a variation on flavors.


Verdict

QuinoaBreakfast_WM-2-by Meeta K. Wolff

This is a soothing kind of breakfast. I’ve been in the need of a soothing repose and have been working hard on training my knee with a lot of intensive Physiotherapy, which usually leaves me exhausted and frazzled. The quinoa breakfast fortifies my day and I start on a good solid basis. It also is a reward for the hard work. It keeps my energy level and spirits up throughout the day. Almond milk, fruit, nuts and the slight sweetness of maple syrup.

To quote Michael Pollan again “Eat Food” ... and this is food!

Amsterdam2013-SIDEBAR-WorkshopBadgeI am very delighted that the Food Styling and Photography Workshop I will be holding in Amsterdam this Fall with Simone van den Berg and Sandy Neumann is almost sold out! We have the last few slots available.

If you have been wanting to improve your photography and styling skills this is the workshop for you! We’ve put together a great programme … find out all the details and register to secure your slot.

 

 

 

 

You might like these breakfast ideas from WFLH:

GranolaBarsBerryPistachio02framed2 7181266929_68ef772a17_b AmaranthGranola 03 framed[3]
Granola Bars - Four Grain Very Berry Pistachio Nut Granola - Tropical Fruit, Nut and Spelt Flakes Nutty Amaranth Granola with Fresh Berries


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2012 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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32 comments:

  1. Like you, I hate cereals that are sweetened or flavored. I only eat old-fashioned cereals like rolled oat, millet flakes, etc... to which I add nuts, seeds, dried and fresh fruits, honey, milk and lemon juice.

    This is a great recipe and great breakfast treat!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. I do sin sometime but on the whole I love my good nutritious breakfasts. Try this ... you'll love it.

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  2. This looks absolutely beautiful. I cook with quinoa a lot because my boyfriend loves the high protein content (as if all the meat he eats isn't enough!) and we love the texture and flavour. I tend to have it cold as cereal but this hot bowl looks wonderfully comforting and nourishing.

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    1. It really is. It would make a lovely dessert cold too.

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  3. Hi Meeta,

    I have to agree both with you and Michael Polan: a good breakfast is how everyone should start the day. And the possibilities are enormous, wether the weather is cold or warm, we can basically have different breakfast options for each day of the week. As for quality of ingredients, I also agree: in my home we rarely eat steak, but when we do it's always the best we can find. Of course it is expensive, but since we don't eat it every day (nor even every week!!) we can actually afford to pay the best quality meat. And this goes for everything else: we try to shop at the local market where producers sell mostly biological products. Some of them are still the same since I started going there as a child, with my grandma. We also grow some herbs at home as well as small fruits (mostly berries).

    I believe we really have to take a deep breath and start thinking about what we eat, how we eat it and how that affects the ecosystem we live in: quinoa is absolutely wonderful but should not be taken for granted as an every-day food. If it's not local and in season, it's not everyday food - at least is how I see it and it's a rule that a try to follow whenever shopping for groceries.

    Your quinoa breakfast must be delicious, will definitely give it a go. Have you ever considered a workshop in Portugal? :)

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    1. Portugal is a very attractive place and I'd love to do a workshop there. Just need some contacts. Your thoughts and feedback is very valuable and I think it is important to have a change in our mindset to the way we think, buy and eat our food. Thanks for your great comment.

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  4. A good breakfast is a "must" for me. Without that nourishment in the morning, I find myself dragging (and then bingeing!) later in the day. Quinoa is something we eat often, but I still haven't tried it at breakfast. That needs to change.

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    1. Oh I am sure you will love this kind of breakfast. Looking forward to what you come up with it.

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  5. Pay more, eat less. That must be strictly American because in France I find that vegetables and fruits bought fresh and local at the market cost less than the equivalent at the supermarket. And are not expensive (well, more costly than years ago but...) if one does buy local, fresh and seasonal.

    That said, breakfast is my least healthy meal of the day. And when it comes to quinoa, which I love, I don't cook with it or eat it enough. Maybe I should. I love your homemade cereals.

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    1. Yes that is one of the great things about living here. Hope you try this Jamie you'll love it.

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  6. Meeta!! What an insightful article! Loved reading it and you are so right when you quoted " Pay more and eat less". I have been following this rule for quite sometime now myself..Lovely breakfast recipe !

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    1. Thanks so much Ami. It's good to know that people embrace this way of thinking more openly.

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  7. I agree with you completely. I never thought of quinoa for breakfast though. I'll have to give it a try!

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    1. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think.

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  8. Oh yes, I cringe thinking of all the bowls of fruit loops colored milk I had when I was growing up.

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    1. LOL! Good to know there were others like me.

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  9. That is a beautiful morning bowl of goodness. Thankfully quinoa is easily available here in CA and has become our fav grain.
    I wish I could take one of your classes. Love your photography! You should have one in US:)

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    1. I hope I can make my way to the US one day and give a workshop there. It is on my to do list. Thanks for your comment.

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  10. Quinoa is so delicious, especially in the morning as porridge. I love Michael Pollan's books and I'm doing a much more active job to making sure I know where my food comes from and what the animals are being fed and how they are treated. It is worth spending the extra dollar for quality food and as you mentioned "pay more and eat less".

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    1. Great feedback. I really believe if we all play this role it will also force bigger companies to think differently.

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  11. I never thought quinoa would look so good for breakfast, I usually reserve this as pilaf or alternative to rice. They look really delicious, and give oaty granola a good run for money!

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  12. Hello everyone, I can't help but cringe at the "pay more, eat less" thought process here, even though I feel like I'm lucky enough to be able to do so. What are we telling our friends who are not as blessed as we are? I understand, and live, the concept of eating a rich, expensive steak only once every two weeks, but what should we tell the ladies who make half of what we do? Should they never enjoy a steak? I don't know, something about this seems sanctimonious, or smug, to me.

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    1. Hi Michelle, Thanks for your valuable feedback and thoughts. There was a reason I did not go into the aspect of what you mention here because that is a whole other post. It's not being sanctimonious but basically one should nourish and feed themselves the best way their budget allows them to.

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  13. I'm one of those guilty parents who fed my kids Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms in the 80's ... back then, anything artificial was seen as "better" than natural! My kids are the parents now, and they (thankfully) do the opposite, and even gave me Michael Pollan to read (The Omnivores Dilema.) I've long turned away from Wonder Bread and all those artificial foods after a past health scare, and I bless bloggers like you who think of such creative and healthy meals. I enjoy eating a lot more now than the tv dinners we had thirty years ago!

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    1. Sarah, thank you for this lovely comment. I will take all the blessing I can get. So glad you like this ... I do sin every now and then but eating good healthy meal more often than not makes up for it. ;o)

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  14. I must admit I too have fallen victim to Crunch Berries and other crap for my kids. But ideas like this one changed it. It was a good couple years for them lol. But those days are gone. Great share!

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  15. “Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk” - Michael Pollan, Rule 36

    this made me laugh outloud!
    I had a room mate who only had ONE food rule
    "Never eat anything that won't decompose in a compost pile"
    this sounds obvious, until you realize how many things DON'T get eaten by worms and bacteria! Need proof - put in some Mcdonalds french fries, a marshmellow and a poptart, they last forever.

    I love the quinoa breakfast and even tho I don't love porridge for breakfast I bet this will be a great comfort dinner for one

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    1. I am loving that rule and talked in great length with a friend about it. It's all we need to know really. Awesome.

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta