Banana Maple Breakfast Quinoa
Through a mix of general curiosity, a genuine interest in food and feeling compelled to keep current on the zillions of food products out there, I often find myself traipsing through grocery stores, reading labels, evaluating packaging and trying different products in addition to bringing home pantry staples, seasonal produce and key ingredients for my latest cooking endeavor.
Recently, I attended a nutrition conference which featured a talk on probiotics. The speaker touted Kefir for its many strains of viable probiotics. I like to think that most often, if someone can make a good argument for the beneficial aspects of a food I will do my best to try it out for myself. With a reputation of sour taste, like a drinkable yogurt, the Kefir has yet to make it off the shelf and into my basket. One day soon my friends.
On a grocery store trip back in January, a product which did peak my interest was a pre-packaged, breakfast-on-the-go, banana cinnamon quinoa. I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate quinoa into my meals but I had yet to attempt to eat it anytime before noon. I stood in the crowded, somewhat claustrophobic aisle of Whole Foods, scanning the label for fiber and protein content. It passed initial inspection. Feeling fairly confident, I purchased and tossed it in my purse for breakfast at work come Monday morning. Hot or room temp, the packaged encouraged me to grab a spoon and fuel up on the warm undertones of banana, vanilla and cinnamon. Unfortunately, it didn’t even pass what I like to call the “sniff test.” I don’t know what flavor exactly led to the wave of nausea that followed. I persevered for this was my breakfast and goodness knows I could not face the day without early morning sustenance. Let me leave out the finer details and cut to the chase, I dumped the quinoa and used my orange as a crutch to get by until I could have my lunch.
This less than optimal breakfast quinoa experience has meant that I have continued to pair savory quinoa with salads, formed it into patties (I promise to share a beloved quinoa burger recipe soon), heck, even as a side dish. But quinoa has yet to be invited back to the breakfast table. Until this morning.
With a bit if planning, I believe this take on banana maple quinoa could be just as portable and convenient as its disappointing, pre-packaged, Whole Foods counterpart.
Banana Maple Breakfast Quinoa
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 Tbsp toasted, chopped, walnuts
2 TBSP maple syrup
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 fairly ripe bananas
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cook quinoa according to package directions. This step can easily be done ahead of time. I usually cook up a batch and keep it in the fridge to add to recipes as needed.
Preheat oven to 350F, spread walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and roughly chop into smaller pieces as desired.
Mash one banana with a fork, dice the other banana and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine quinoa, mashed banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and maple syrup and stir to combine. In a skillet over medium-low heat, add quinoa mixture and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer into two bowls for serving, top with diced bananas and toasted walnuts.