Friday, July 9, 2010

Foodie Friday: Hearty Berry and Cinnamon Quinoa with Toasted Walnuts

Photo courtesy of Michelle Loy. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. 

I fell in love with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) while I was in undergrad and had to make a quinoa pilaf for a food prep class.  It looked like birdseed, so I didn't know what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised by its slightly crunchy texture and hearty, nutty flavor.  This pseudocereal seed prevails as a powerhouse plant-based source of protein because it contains a healthful balance of all essential amino acids and is well-digested by the body.  Its protein profile makes it the perfect component in the vegetarian diet.  Quinoa is also an excellent plant source of iron, magnesium, folate, and managanese and a good source of fiber and copper.  Newer data also indicate that quinoa harbors a host of phytochemicals, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and phytosterols.  Because it's gluten-free, it also works well for those with celiac disease.

Quinoa's versatility has won me over.  It provides the perfect alternative for those who are a little bored with the brown rice or whole wheat couscous routine.  It works well in soups, salads, and for breakfast.  I also love the fact that you can actually cook it in a rice cooker. And like rice, it also freezes well, so you can cook ahead and store for future recipes.  So simple!  You can also find gluten-free noodles and other products made from quinoa that can sub for other gluten-containing foods.

If you're not sold on it yet because a dietitian's doing the sales pitch here, then trust my husband.  I introduced him to this a few years ago, and he finds it quite tasty!

Here's a delicious, warm, wholesome breakfast quinoa.  Try it, and let me know what you think.

Hearty Berry and Cinnamon Quinoa with Toasted Walnuts
{Print this recipe}
1 cup quinoa, rinsed (I used red quinoa in the photo above.)
2 cups water
1/2 cup 1% milk (You could use soy or almond milk, too.)
2 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed (You could also use other berries, such as blueberries.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 c chopped walnuts  (You could also use other nuts, such as pecans.)
4 teaspoons brown sugar or to taste (You could also use honey, agave, or maple syrup.)

1.  Rinse and drain quinoa through a fine mesh strainer thoroughly before cooking.  (This removes any remaining bitter-flavored saponins.)  Combine the water and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.  (If you have a rice cooker, that will work perfectly, too!)
2.  While the quinoa is simmering, toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat stirring frequently for about 2 minutes.
3.  After the quinoa is cooked, stir in the milk, blackberries, cinnamon, walnuts, and brown sugar. 
4.  Enjoy!

Serves: 4

Nutritional Info:
Calories: 345     Carbohydate: 44 g     Fat: 14.5 g     Saturated fat: 1 g     Monounsaturated fat: 1.4 g     Protein: 11 g     Cholesterol: 1.5 mg     Fiber: 15 g     Sugar: 10 g     Sodium:  30 mg
High in:  omega-3 (linolenic) fatty acid, riboflavin, vitamin B12, magnesium, and zinc


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