I bet you have heard about quinoa, who hasn’t? This superfood has enjoyed all the hype and all the glory. But have you ever heard about carrot cake quinoa bowls for breakfast?
Then stay with me and I will show you a great new use for those pretty quinoa grains.
About quinoa and its origins
Quinoa is a well-known superfood that has seen a strong international recognition ever since the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations declared 2013 the Year of Quinoa.
For us, breakfast bowl fanatics and health-conscious individuals, quinoa is a go-to ingredient because it is the only plant (that is right, quinoa is not a grain) that has all essential amino acids. It is considered a pseudo-cereal because it is not a cereal but in the kitchen in behaves like one, so it is apt for those with a gluten allergy.
Quinoa is high in protein, gluten-free and it is as versatile in the kitchen as it is easy and quick to cook. Its mild flavor goes well with everything and can be enjoyed at all times of the day.
But humanity did not discover its benefits in the 20th century, quinoa is an ancient crop. It is a plant that grows well in the cold, high altitudes of the Andean Mountains around Lake Titicaca, between Peru and Bolivia, and it can also survive at sea level and in poor soils, which is why it is a much prized crop.
The word quinoa comes from the Quechua language. This historical food was cultivated by the Incas and other pre-Columbian civilisation well before the arrival of the Spanish, most likely from the 3,000 to 5,000 BC. The Incas knew well of quinoa’s superpowers and not only grew it extensively, but also used it for ceremonies and offerings to their Gods. It was a food reserved to the elite.
When the Spanish arrived, they identified quinoa’s links to power and decided to replace it with other crops like corn or wheat so it only survived in remove isolated areas or where nothing else would grow.
If you ever saw quinoa in the wild you would probably not think it as a food ingredient. This green plant has fluorescent red flowers and tiny seeds. Both the seeds and the leaves are harvested and eaten. Today, quinoa is grown across the world but the majority of the production still comes from Bolivia.
In your supermarket, you will find white, red and black quinoa, maybe even some other color. The reality is that there are many different varieties so go for the color that you most like or do like me and get one of the mixed packets which have all the colors, they are all the same in terms of taste and have largely similar health benefits.
The benefits of quinoa and this recipe
I have already anticipated why quinoa has recently become such a loved food but let’s take a look at the main benefits of quinoa and of this great carrot cake quinoa bowl.
Quinoa has one of the highest percentages of protein of any plant and grain at around 16%, this is only half of the protein percentage of chicken, so it makes for a great source for vegans and vegetarians. It is also high in zinc, potassium, calcium and iron and while it has 6% fat, it is the good kind, made of omega-3 fatty acids.
Chefs and cooks all over the world love quinoa because it is easy to cook and unlike other grains, takes very little time to get ready. You don’t have to soak or overnight either, so there is no planning required, and they go well as starter, main and side dish. You can even cook it for desert, make sweet or savory dishes with it and even use it as condiment for some salads or soups.
This recipe uses quinoa with carrot to make an unusual dish that is packed with vitamins and protein. You can make it creamier or sweeter to your taste and even eat it as dessert. You could also add some of it to yogurt for a truly creamy bowl.
What I love about this carrot cake quinoa recipe
What I love the most about this recipe is that you can get it ready in about 20min or prepare it the night before, let it rest in the fridge and then eat it cold or warmed up in the microwave. If you let it rest, the quinoa seeds will soak the liquid even more and it will make for an even more amazing recipe that resembles bircher muesli.
I wholeheartedly hate raisins (sorry, one of those inexplicable things) but if you add some to the recipe and let them soak overnight with the rest, the following morning you can enjoy an alternative to a bircher muesli.
Oh! and did I mention that this is a great to-go breakfast bowl to take to work? Just add the sliced banana when you get to the office so it does not turn brown.
Recipe: Carrot cake quinoa bowl
This delicious crunchy carrot cake flavored quinoa porridge is the closest to a healthy version of the yum dessert but packed with goodness instead of saturated fats.
- 30gr Quinoa
- 240ml Coconut milk (1 cup)
- Half a banana
- 2 Walnuts, crushed
- 25ml Coconut cream (2 Tbsp)
- 30gr Grated carrot (3 Tbsp)
- 25gr Smooth peanut butter (1 Tbsp)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Squeeze of lemon
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of cinnamon
- POACH: Place the coconut milk in a pot and add the grated carrot. Let it poach slowly for 5min with the lid on and at low heat. Then add the water and quinoa, cover and let it simmer.
- COMBINE: After 5min, add the spices, crushed walnuts and the peanut butter to the pot with the milk and carrot and stir.
- SIMMER: Let it simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure that it does not run out of water.
- ASSEMBLE: Pour the mix in a bowl, top with the coconut cream and serve.
Make it less creamy: I you want to make it less creamy, you can cook the quinoa separately and then add it after the carrot has cooked for 5min.
Alternatives: You can use any kind of nut milk, and in fact, walnut butter will make the quinoa taste even closer to the cake. I used peanut butter because it is more readily available in most people's pantries.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 7.5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 83mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 6gSugar: 10gProtein: 10g
Values may vary depending on ingredients and brands used.
Possible variations to this carrot cake quinoa bowl
This recipe has all the basic ingredients to make it taste like a carrot cake without actually baking or using any flour. Here are some creative variations:
Here are a few creative ideas to try:
- Cream cheese: Instead of coconut cream, use cream cheese as topping but mix it with a small teaspoon of coconut sugar before.
- Make it more cakey: If you want to add extra protein and give it a cake-like texture, add 2 tablespoons of ground walnut or my favorite LSC meal. Beware of the calorie bomb this will become and consider reducing the overall portion.
Make this recipe with <250 kcal
It is quite difficult to reduce the calories of this dish while keeping with the carrot cake spirit. Here is what you can do to reduce the calories:
- Reduce 50 Kcal: Coconut cream is very caloric, use a couple of spoonfuls of low calorie yogurt instead.
- Reduce 50 kcal: Cook the dish with water instead of coconut milk, although this will change the flavor
- Reduce 75 Kcal: By forgoing the peanut butter, which is high in calories and fat.
So, to make this recipe 250kcal you should use water instead of coconut milk, leave the peanut butter out and replace the coconut cream with low-fat yogurt. But I won’t lie, the recipe will be vastly different. Sometimes, you just have to indulge a little!