Sunday, May 11, 2008

Creamy quinoa with banana, cinnamon and almonds

I’m in love!

Well, not just sneakingly with Bret from Flight of the Conchords but another foreign import.

Quinoa is a seedy/grain with when cooked is soft yet yields a subtle crunch. I have previously explored red and white quinoa in savoury recipes such as stuffed artichokes and a simple pilaf but thanks to a recent post from fellow quinoa-lover Heidi at 101 cookbooks I realised it was time to explore what this grain could offer with a little sweetness.

There is a delightful evolution that occurs through the sharing of recipes. Heidi’s starting point was a quinoa berry breakfast featured in Dr John La Puma's “Chef MD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine”, which she shared with us as her version of a warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa recipe. Being the opposite of blackberry season in this part of the world I changed the fruit, nuts, sweetener and milk to what was on hand. The method is the same, yet each combination creates another possibility of flavours.

The second star to this mighty breakfast (or healthy dessert) is a little cassia bark. I’ve always preferred the flavour of the bark found in my favourite Asian grocery store, over the dusty, milder quills of cinnamon from the supermarket. The tougher, gutsier cassia is easily grated with a microplane or grater, so sprinkling is over this cereal is dead easy. Cassia lifts this dish onto an even higher plane, not just in taste but also in health benefits. Latest research shows this versatile herb not only eases digestive upsets but is very promising in lowering blood glucose in diabetes as well as neutralising a few rogue triglycerides.

I see no need for 1% or low fat milk as the original recipe calls for. Basically you are diluting your white fluid of choice 50:50 with water, which inherently renders it lower in fat. Soy milk, if you are not allergic to it, is a pleasant way to get a dose of phyto-oestrogens (a preventer, rather than promoter of breast cancer as it has often been mis-reported), rice or oat milk would do but only resort to cows milk if you lack imagination or resources. While keeping to the original quantities there is one other variation, this made a hearty breakfast for 2 rather than 4 and kept us going all day! Every mouthful was met with mutual groans of joy. This is my new favourite cereal for breakfast, making it a great gluten-free and dairy-free way to start the days

Tip: Always wash your quinoa before using it. If you don’t the bitter residue left on the grain will make you wonder why people rave about this rather expensive addition to the pantry.

Creamy quinoa with bananas, cinnamon and almonds

1 cup soy, or other milk of your choice
1 cup water
1 cup quinoa (red or white, it doesn’t matter which but I made this with red quinoa because it looks so pretty) rinsed well
1/2 – 1 tsp cassia bark or cinnamon, try grating it yourself for freshness
a handful of almonds, cut into slivers with a sharp knife
1 banana
a drizzle of maple syrup

Combine the milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. While doing this if you have a gas cook top, warm a heat diffuser mat on another burner. Once boiling stir well, cover and transfer the pan to the heat mat (if not just turn the heat down to low). Simmer for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add slices of banana and a generous sprinkle of cassia/cinnamon, stir through the quinoa, turn the heat off and leave the pan covered for another 5 minutes. Meantime, toast the slivered almonds in a hot pan until they begin to turn brown. Shake frequently and remember to remove from the pan from the heat the moment the almonds are done to prevent burning.

Spoon the quinoa into the bowls, garnish with another slice of banana, toasted almonds and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Take a deep breath and dive in!

This week’s Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Laurie at Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska. Check out her site in a couple of days to see the full round up of herb and vegetable recipes from around the globe.

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Blogger Laurie Constantino said...

This looks tasty and healthy, the ideal combination. I completely agree with you about cassia vs. cinnamon.

11:59 am  
Blogger John L said...

So glad you liked my Quinoa breakfast from my new book...Heidi's photos make it even better.
You might also like Quinoa for lunch:Roasted Winter Vegetables with Cranberry Studded Quinoa appears on our website free, plus the Lifetime TV segment I did:
And keep up the good work in recipe sharing!
John La Puma, MD

12:16 pm  
Anonymous Great Big Veg Challenge said...

is Cassia Bark the same as cinammon or related?

4:22 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

If you click the link you find even more about cassia. It is a relative to cinnamon.

4:27 pm  
Blogger Kalyn said...

Very interesting, and I'm realizing I didn't really know the difference between cassia and cinnamon. Quinoa is one of the things I haven't cooked with much, and I'm going to start experimenting with it more.

10:54 pm  
Blogger MyThreeDaughters said...

This is the only recipe I have tried.

2:06 pm  

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