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Maple + Spice Pumpkin Pecan Breakfast Quinoa

Maple + Spice Pumpkin Pecan Breakfast Quinoa

t this point I think most people are pretty well acquainted with quinoa. This seed (yes, seed!) has transitioned from trendy and obscure to widely known and generally loved by those who have tried it. Quinoa is a blank canvas, easily taking on flavors and pairing well with essentially any foods it is served with. It has by far been solely enjoyed as a savory dish. But, because quinoa is so good at soaking up other flavors, it’s excellent when made as a sweet dish too! It is the same idea as bread or rice made into a pudding; a neutral starch made sweet.

ecause it is autumn time here, it seemed natural to prepare a sweet quinoa with some of the most fall-y flavors; pumpkin, maple, pecans, and spices. This quinoa is like fall’s greatest hits, all in one bowl. It is warming, satisfying, comforting, and will give you the energy you need to get your day started. You can almost think of this like oatmeal, but with more texture.

his breakfast quinoa is both delicious and quite nutrient dense. One serving has 27g protein (!), 65g carbs, 15g fat, and 6g fiber. Cooking the quinoa in milk and finishing with Greek yogurt provides lots of muscle building protein. Everything in here is a real food, culminating in a nourishing breakfast bowl. And not to mention, you are getting some veggies in first thing in the morning with the pumpkin!

umpkin seems to be everywhere right now. You can find nearly anything you want with pumpkin or pumpkin spice flavor or scent at the store this time of year. Most foods with “pumpkin” flavor actually have little to no real pumpkin in them. When most people think of what pumpkin tastes like, they are really imagining the spices and sweetness of maple syrup or molasses that traditionally enhance and compliment pumpkin. Pumpkin itself does have a mild flavor, and these other flavors can overpower it. Regardless, pumpkin spice flavored foods are warmly welcomed come the cooler weather of autumn.

This quinoa has both pumpkin flavor and nutritive benefits of real pumpkin. Beta-carotene is the pigment that gives pumpkin its bright orange color. This pigment is a powerful antioxidant that can protect the body from harmful, oxidizing free radicals. Choosing a diet with lots of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables can help lower risk of diseases over your lifetime. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. This vitamin is important for good eye and skin health, immune function, and more. Pumpkin and other orange colored fruits and veggies provide lots of health promoting beta-carotene, so make sure to include them in your regular diet. 

know sweet quinoa or quinoa for breakfast may be new to you, but I really hope you give this a try! It is creamy, warmly spiced, and perfect for a chilly fall morning. With great nutrition and flavor, this breakfast quinoa is a perfect fit in a healthful, whole foods diet!

Maple + Spice Pumpkin Pecan Breakfast Quinoa
Makes 2 servings
 
Quinoa
½ cup quinoa
2 cups low fat milk
2 cinnamon sticks (~3” long each)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. coarse/kosher salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
½ cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup non fat Greek yogurt
2 tbs. toasted pecans, chopped
1 tbs. maple syrup
 
Pecan topping
2 tbs. toasted pecans, chopped
1 tbs. maple syrup
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch salt
 
If you are starting with raw pecans, you can toast them for about 5 minutes in an oven set at 325°F. Watch carefully as they cook as nuts can quickly go from raw to toasted to burnt.

Heat a medium (~4 quart) pot on medium heat. Add quinoa and cinnamon sticks. Frequently stir or toss the quinoa to make sure it heats and toasts evenly. It should make little popping noises. Toast for 2-3 minutes, or until more golden in color and fragrant. You can skip this step if you want, but toasting the quinoa creates great depth of flavor.
 
Add to the pot the milk, salt, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer. Watch the pan closely as milk tends to foam up. Adjust heat as needed to maintain a steady simmer. Stir frequently to prevent the milk from scorching.
 
While quinoa is cooking, make the pecan topping by simply combining all the ingredients in a little bowl.
 
Cook quinoa for about 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the cinnamon sticks. Turn heat to low and add in the ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, pumpkin, pecans, Greek yogurt, and maple syrup. Mix well until everything is evenly combined.
 
Serve breakfast quinoa with the pecan topping. Mmm! Extras can be stored in the fridge for a few days.

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