Comfort Food - Refreshed

December 12, 2012

A healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square in NYC, Kelly Dupuis believes in eating foods without labels (an ear of corn, a ripe tomato). As a proponent of plant-based diets, she eschews packaged substitutes offering a quick fix. For Kelly, it's all about cooking from scratch. In her weekly column, Comfort Food - Refreshed, Kelly doesn't just adapt her favorite comfort foods to her plant-strong lifestyle, she reimagines them in original recipes with a wink to the past.

This week: Kelly stirs her way to a sunshine-bright bowl of Creamy Quinoa Breakfast Pudding.

quinoa pudding
Photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest


By now, everyone under the healthy-eating sun has heard of the complete protein with the funny name called quinoa. It's pronounced keen-wah. But please, do not worry if you’ve asked it for by the name of kin-NO-uh. I’ve had more customers call it kin-NO-uh than not, so it’s really okay. Whatever you call it, it's delicious -- in a pilaf, in a salad, in a rice dish, or even as a breakfast treat. (More on that in a moment!) But the big, big deal about quinoa is its outstanding nutritional value. First off, it’s a complete protein. What does that it mean? Well, quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids, which means your body knows exactly what to do with it. Quinoa is also packed with fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller longer. Not to mention all the calcium it contains, and the fact that it’s gluten free. Folks that avoid products with gluten (like wheatberries, traditional pasta, and farro) often think of quinoa as their go-to grain. (I am taking liberties with the word grain here; quinoa is technically a seed. But it's considered a whole grain in the cooking realm.) Quinoa is truly a standout product. And it’s something I eat at least a couple times a week. As soon as I learned how to cook it, I was all over it. But my cooking it properly didn’t happen the first time around. Oh no. Here’s a little story.

I knew I needed 2 cups of cooking liquid to 1 cup of quinoa. So I brought to a boil 2 cups of vegetable stock. Thought to myself, “Here’s a way to impart more flavor into quinoa, Kelly! You’re so smart.” Then I added the quinoa, reduced the heat to low, and simmered it for 15 minutes until all the liquid had absorbed. It was light and fluffy and looked perfect. Then I tried it. It was awful. Bitter, almost sour, and overall just funky. And not in a pleasant way. What had happened? What had I done wrong? I looked at the package again. Oh. “Add 1 cup rinsed quinoa,” it said. Shoot. Rinsing was that important? Turns out that it is.

Quinoa produces a naturally bitter coating called saponin to keep the bugs away. It’s not toxic to humans, but it tastes awful. So I hate to think of all the people who aren’t rinsing their quinoa out there and getting turned off by it unnecessarily. Folks: Rinse your quinoa! Even if it says that it’s pre-rinsed, I tend to rinse it anyway just for a minute in a fine sieve. There's no reason to soak it; just rinse it. And you, too, will come to love quinoa. Red, white, black, rainbow -- whatever kind you prefer! Though, to me, the taste is very similar across the board. Do a taste test of your own at home to determine if buying the more expensive brands are worth it. For my Creamy Quinoa Breakfast Pudding, I use the good old-fashioned plain white quinoa.

This time of year, I crave those warm breakfasts that fill up my belly and sustain me throughout the morning. Now, we know how big of a fan I am of oats. But quinoa holds up exceptionally well in your morning porridge, too. Morning porridge is a pretty old timey phrase, but this recipe is bursting with newness. First, I simmer the quinoa for a while in a mixture of alternative milk and water, stirring it often to help release the starches (like you would a risotto), until it really breaks down and the grains "burst," in a sense. Next, I add flavorings like cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla, and loads of golden raisins and nuts. At the end, I add just a touch of citrus to balance the sweetness with a bit of tang. This pudding is rich, creamy, and hearty. I like it best served warm, but if you cool it down, it’s perfect as a midafternoon snack. Time to get keen on quinoa!

Creamy Quinoa Breakfast Pudding

Serves 4

1 cup quinoa, well rinsed in a fine sieve
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups unsweetened alternative milk
2/3 cups water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Juice of one orange
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

In the NYC area? Stop by for cooking advice!

Do you need help with maintaining a healthy diet? Drop by WFM Columbus Circle or WFM Union Square to chat with me about this recipe and plant-strong cooking tips. I'll be preparing this quinoa pudding on Saturday, December 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at our Union Square store.

If you're not in the area, send me a direct message or add your comments or questions below.

Like this post? See Kelly's topic from last week: Spinach, Pine Nut and Olive Stuffed Mushrooms.

Kelly Dupuis is a healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square who delights in transforming comfort classics into deliciously satisfying and fun plant-based dishes.

kelly dupuis

2 Comments Add a Comment
  • Sj

    Sarah Jane says: We've been looking for a good quinoa porridge for the crockpot. I'll have to adapt and give this a try!

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • Kelly_009

    Kelly Jane says: Hey Sarah Jane: in the crockpot would work as well! Maybe on low to start out? Hope you've tried this and enjoyed!

    about 1 year ago

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