Quinoa? I ha’dly know’a!

That… title… that’s supposed to be read in, like a … like a Boston accent or something.  It’s not… it’s… not… really funny.  At all.

Moving on…

I was trying to decide what to have for dinner… lunch… whatever meal one calls it when one woke up at 2:00, had breakfast around 5:00, and is eating it around 9:00.  Anyway, as periodically happens, I wanted something subtly sweet and really creamy and warm but maybe with a cool topping and cereal-y.  You may remember the oatmeal recipe from a while back — that was the same craving, but I’m always looking for something a little more cream-of-wheat and a little less oatmeal.  The other night, I heated Grape Nuts with milk, and that wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t great, either.

And it DEFINITELY wasn’t THIS good.

So tonight, I’m browsing through the pantry, and my eye lands on coconut milk, which I love.  But I always kinda assumed it had about a billion calories, so I never went past gazing at it wistfully until today.  Tonight, I picked up the can and did some math and realized that it would fit into my remaining daily calorie budget, no problem.  (I’m guessing that prejudice came from times in the past when I’d been on low-fat diets instead of just counting calories and exercise.  It’s not low in fat.  I think.  I didn’t actually look, ’cause I’m done criminalizing fats.)

Did you know there were

Although these guys DO look really sketchy.

Then I thought, maybe some stupid oatmeal with coconut milk?  (Sometimes, I get mad at oatmeal for not being cream of wheat.)  I glared at the shelf on which resides the oatmeal.  I willed it to change.  I considered blending it to make the texture something I wanted.

Digression Warning

I don’t like thinking about blending things.  I’m not, under normal circumstances, particularly obsessive, I don’t think.  I mean, not too much more than mentally healthy people.  I have hills and valleys, and sometimes it’s hard to get a thought out of my head, like, “AAAH!!  Spriggan’s going to eat something sharp or fall and break her back or spontaneously combust and then I’ll lose the will to live!”  But usually I can stop those thoughts pretty quickly after they occur to me.

One of my defense mechanisms is to assume that most people do that at one time or another.

However, for about… mmm… 5 or 6 years now, maybe… every time I think of a blender — like, I’m craving a smoothie or a milkshake or wanting to turn oatmeal into cream of wheat — I get an image of me grinding up my hand in it.


Don’t you look so innocent, you sicko.

Every.  Time.

It’s unstoppable.  And, as you might imagine, pretty disturbing.  It’s usually just a split-second image, and it’s definitely an accident in the scenario.  I don’t, like, have a suicidal hand or something.  But my brain just goes, “Blender?  Here ya go!” and serves me up a mangled hand.

So… I don’t use the blender.  I mean, if I HAVE to use it, I can do it.  It’s not a phobia or anything.  It’s just unpleasant.  ‘Cause if I think of the blender… and then that picture pops up… and then I decide NOT to use the blender and I stop thinking about it, the image goes away.  But if I proceed to USE the blender, the image persists and recurs every time I see or think about the blender until I stow it in its cabinet again.

So I don’t use the blender.

Digression Complete

Finally, my eye lands upon the quinoa I’d bought ’cause it’s the latest health fad food.  (Okay, it probably WAS the latest about 4 years ago, but I’m slow to catch trends.  Also, apparently now we should feel bad about eating it anyway, ’cause the people who farm it can no longer afford to eat it:  Quinoa Prices.)  Politics and basic human decency aside, I thought it might be time for me to actually try cooking the quinoa I’d no doubt bought 6 or 7 months ago.

I read the package:  “This says to cook 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of ‘liquid’.  I wonder if I can cook it in coconut milk?”  Then, a little voice in my head said, “TO THE INTERNETS!” and off I ran.  (By which I mean, I sauntered ten feet.)

The very first result I clicked on was-a this here:  Breakfast Quinoa, which has a recipe for quinoa, cooked in coconut milk, with fruit and nuts.  In other words, straight from my brain.  And my tummy.  Or my tummy’s brain.

Deciding that it looked delicious, I set about making it, with a few modifications, as I am wont to do.  So, in case anyone’s interested in my version of the recipe:

Coconut Cream Quinoa

With berries and other stuff.  Makes 4 servings, unless you like big servings.  I was quite full after a serving of about 3/4 cup, so it probably feeds 4 pretty reliably.  If you make it exactly the way I made it, it’s about 480 calories per serving.

Wha’d’ya put in it?

  • 1 can coconut milk (about 1 2/3 cups)
  • 1/3 cup water (Probably optional, depending on how icy your berries are.)
  • 1 cup quinoa (I weighed mine:  172 grams.)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries (Or a little less, if it’s the end of the bag — I had 115 grams.)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries (140 grams)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (This seemed like a lot when I was putting it in, but you could easily do with more.)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (Thought it could’ve handled more.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp agave nectar (This also seemed like a lot, but the berries were quite tart, and it turned out to be perfect for me — others would probably like it with less or none.  You could always skip it and then swirl some maple syrup on after it’s served, if it isn’t sweet enough.)
  • chopped almonds, to sprinkle on top (I used 35 grams for 4 servings  — maybe, like, 4 tbls? — and it seemed to be a good amount.)

How d’ya do it?

  1. Put coconut milk, water, and quinoa into a saucepan over high-ish heat.  My stove was on 8 out of 10.  Measure/weigh/prep your other ingredients.
  2. After the mixture was getting hot and on its way to boiling, I threw it a curveball by tossing the frozen berries in there.  It was shocked.  (I couldn’t help thinking this would be SO MUCH BETTER with peaches or mango, but I didn’t have those.  I had berries.)

    They're the jealous sort.

    Peaches, I love you the best. (Don’t tell Berries.)

  3. Add the vanilla, salt, and ginger.  Stir everybody together, so they’re nice and cozy.  Let ’em heat.
  4. Once the mixture is boiling — the quinoa package says to bring it to “a vigorous boil” but I was getting more of an emphatic boil — turn the heat down to 4 (if you don’t have a stove with numbers, I feel sorry for you.  Really.) and let it simmer.
  5. Set a timer for 15 minutes.  The quinoa package says to cover it for this part, but I took the lid off pretty soon after I started the simmer, ’cause I knew all those icy berries contributed a lot of water, and I wanted it to evaporate.
  6. About a minute before it’s done, add the agave nectar and stir it in.  (Side note:  You might be able to just throw everything together from the very beginning — [Side note side note:  I desperately wanted to say “from the BERRY beginning”.  And now I have.] — but I don’t know if anything weird would happen… like the agave would burn or the quinoa wouldn’t absorb liquid properly or something.  So I’m just telling you how I did it.)
  7. When it’s done, it may be a kinda icky shade of grayish brown, although mine passed through that color and wound up with a more satisfying berry-purple.  Since you’ve stirred it periodically — oh, didn’t I mention that?  You should stir it periodically. — the berries have broken up into the tiniest little berry-surprise-lumps.  The quinoa grains will be clear with a little white line, and I assume they’re supposed to be a little chewy; I like them that way, whether it’s “correct” or not.

    Like fish eggs or something.

    They look gross.

  8. Put about 3/4 cup into a bowl.  It will not look like much, but trust me, it is FILLING.  If you reserved some coconut milk like I didn’t tell you to, sprinkle about a tablespoon of that on top for a lovely white swirl.  (You could also use milk, cream, or yogurt.  I’m a big fan of the cold-swirl-of-creaminess in my warm cereals.)  Sprinkle your almonds on there.
  9. Eat the delicious.

As the original recipe poster noted, you can do any combo of fruits and nuts in this thing.  If you did, for example, bananas and pecans or apples and walnuts, I’d change the ginger back to cinnamon.  I bet the ginger’s amazing with peaches, though.

And, it didn’t even occur to me until I started writing about it, but it’s vegan the way I prepared it tonight.  When I eat it tomorrow with a little milk on top, it won’t be, but I only reserved enough cold coconut milk for one bowl.

I think I may finally have the stamina to post the recipe for cookies I mentioned, so I’ll do that next.

This is not a food blog.  Still.