Nutritious superfood quinoa is the star of this creamy, coconut milk-based pudding that tastes like a cross between rice pudding and tapioca.
I’m quickly discovering that January is a month of multiple personalities when it comes to food blogging. First of all, after a holiday season filled with rich, indulgent foods, everyone is resolute to start off the year on a healthy foot. Thus, enter the lightened up, nutritious recipes. Then there’s the fact that January is one of the coldest months, so everyone is craving comfort food via their effortless crock pots. With Super Bowl right around the corner, some folks are trying to plan out their game-watching (or at least their commercial-watching) appetizers and snacks. And finally, Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, so that means decadent desserts and lots and lots of chocolate!
So before I delve into football-friendly fare and recipes incorporating hearts and effusive amounts of butter, I thought I’d squeeze in a sweet treat that’s actually wholesome and comforting at the same time. And since that covers most, but not quite all, of the January food blogging bases, I suppose you could also eat this dish while watching a football game. 😉
Have you jumped on the quinoa bandwagon yet? This gluten-free, high fiber, complete protein of a grain has become mainstream and quite popular over the last couple of years, and rightfully so. Nevertheless, it’s been a fairly recent addition to my family’s menu plan, and so far I’ve primarily relegated it to the savory side dish category as a replacement for rice or pasta. Well, in 2014, I’m determined to incorporate quinoa into our diet more regularly and in unique ways. The other day it struck me that it might make a tasty and healthy pseudo-rice pudding, so I got to experimenting.
I ended up making this recipe multiple times in different variations to determine my favorite combination of ingredients. After trying several versions, I think I came up with a perfect formula for Quinoa Pudding. My kids went cuckoo over this and I think you will, too! But first, here’s how I came to my conclusions…
My eldest son is lactose-intolerant, so I often substitute unsweetened coconut milk (the kind that comes in a carton in the refrigerated section) for regular cow’s milk in my cooking. Sometimes it lends a coconut undertone to the recipe and sometimes it doesn’t. I did not notice that it contributed any coconut flavor to this quinoa pudding. But it did make it dairy-free and vegan.
For experimentation’s sake, I also made a batch of this pudding with regular milk. My family drinks whole milk, which worked beautifully in this recipe, resulting in creamy, luxurious pudding. I’m sure that skim milk or 2% would work as well, but be prepared for a potentially thinner final texture.
In conclusion? Both coconut milk and regular milk work perfectly well in this recipe. What to use is up to you!
The first time I made this recipe, I started with 3 cups of milk. After about 20 minutes of cooking time, the quinoa had absorbed all of it. The final dish had the texture of a thick oatmeal and the quinoa still had an al dente bite. It was delicious, but a tad thicker than I had hoped it would be.
So the next time, I started with 4 cups of milk. As a result, the cooking time naturally increased, but I actually preferred the resulting quinoa, which was more tender and milder in flavor. Plus I loved that the pudding was creamy and almost tapioca-like in texture, with quinoa grains floating in a pool of thick vanilla cream.
To sum it up? More milk and longer cooking time is definitely my preference here.
WHITE SUGAR VS. MAPLE SYRUP
Both worked and I didn’t really notice a difference in the resulting flavor or sweetness level. But since this quinoa recipe originated in the name of health, I lean towards sweetening it with pure maple syrup, which is at least a natural, unrefined sweetener. However, plain ol’ white sugar will work just fine as well if that’s your preference or what you have on hand.
I love cinnamon in my rice pudding but I didn’t know if it would overpower the rest of the flavors, so I experimented with making this pudding with and without. I have to say, I really enjoyed the version in which cinnamon was added to the pudding while cooking. I was afraid it might overwhelm the vanilla, but instead, I found the non-cinnamon version to be a little bland. But certainly feel free to leave it out — or simply sprinkle it on the top — if you’re more of a no-cinnamon-in-your-pudding purist.
So there you have it! Warm, dreamy Quinoa Pudding. It’s like a 2014 version of comfort food…tastes like a decadent treat but brimming with nutrition! It’s equally delicious and nourishing as breakfast, a snack, or dessert. Whether you’ve been wanting to try quinoa or you’re already a quinoa veteran, this recipe is a winner. I can’t wait for y’all to try it!
P.S. Call me a redneck, but while I logically know that quinoa is pronounced “KEEN-wah,” every time I read it or write it, I can’t help but sound it out in my head as “kwin-OH-uh.” Please tell me I’m not the only one… 😉
More wholesome breakfast ideas…