Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe

A stunning berry-studded breakfast quinoa with pecans and blackberries, sweetened with agave nectar or honey.

Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa

This stunning berry-studded breakfast quinoa is from Dr. John La Puma's recent release - Chef MD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine. I've written about just a handful of books this year (more to come, I promise!), but I wanted to highlight this one for a few reasons. It's a fantastic healthy-cooking (and eating) primer written by a someone who is both a doctor and chef. The book is text heavy and photo-free, but for those of you who want to dive into some of the ways food can work for you, this is a good overview. A chapter in his book opens with the following passage:

"...I have begun to think of a home kitchen in much the same way I think of a health spa - a place where people can come to be restored, feel better, experience pleasure, and become healthier. And this is how I'd like you to start thinking about your kitchen. Your kitchen is at the heart of your health.

In your home, you probably keep your medicine chest in the bathroom. I'm offering a second medicine chest, one that helps prevent diseases and symptoms and that you keep right in your kitchen cupboards, fridge, freezer, and pantry."

There's a lot going on here (in a good way). One chapter outlines the fifty foods that should be part of your pantry - those of you already cooking from a natural foods pantry have a big head start. To make the cut each contender had to demonstrate "that if eaten regularly it could prevent, and in some cases, actually treat - specific conditions and symptoms." The good news is, many of the fifty foods are flat-out delicious in their own right, and for those of you who are regular readers here, you'll find a cast of familiar characters - oats, quinoa, lentils, beans, greens, and agave nectar, avocado, and berries. Another chapter tells you which foods to eat (or avoid) based on forty common conditions.

Berry Quinoa Recipe

The quinoa berry bowl is typical of what you'll find in the recipe section. Broadly speaking, the recipes are concise and approachable, with every ingredient working for you on both the flavor and nutrition fronts. You'll find recipes that are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, and many that are easily adaptable either way. A few other recipes that caught my attention; Butternut Barley Risotto, Cinnamon Orange Dreamsicles, and Walnut Scented Dessert Pancakes. Now I know many of you will only buy cookbooks that have cover-to-cover photography, but I hope the shot at the top with give you a little glimpse of what you might be missing.

My diet is far from perfect, but I've learned over the years that if you surround yourself with delicious, healthy, real ingredients you'll discover and create amazing ways to use them. This book is full of ideas, helpful information, and ingredient-based inspiration. At the very least flip through it the next time you pop into a bookstore, and in the meantime enjoy the quinoa berry breakfast bowl you see up above. And here's where you can go if you're looking for other quinoa recipes!

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Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe

I used a red quinoa here, but you can use whatever kind you like, white/buff colored seems to be the most common. Also, a few notes and tips from the book: low-fat soy milk may replace the low fat milk, blueberries may replace the blackberries, dark honey may replace the agave nectar, and walnuts may replace the pecans.

1 cup organic 1% low fat milk
1 cup water
1 cup organic quinoa, (hs note: rinse quinoa)
2 cups fresh blackberries, organic preferred
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
4 teaspoons organic agave nectar, such as Madhava brand

Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Stir in blackberries and cinnamon; transfer to four bowls and top with pecans. Drizzle 1 teaspoon agave nectar over each serving.

Serves 4.

*While the quinoa cooks, roast the pecans in a 350F degree toaster oven for 5 to 6 minutes or in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes.

Prep time: 5 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Hopefully someone can help me... I am terribly allergic to buckwheat and have not tried quinoa as I had heard that it contains the same protein as buckwheat. Can someone please confirm / deny this so that I can try it! Or not, as the case may be! Thanks


Lael -- If you are anywhere near Abilene, they do have an HEB and it does carry quinoa, in a box. Although I usually wait until I am in Dallas to buy some so that we can get it in bulk at Central Market ...


I'm not sure why I never thought of quinoa for breakfast but I loved this recipe! I tweaked it a bit - added some stevia to the liquid and a little salt and used fresh strawberries because that's all I had on hand. It was very tasty and filling and something new for breakfast!




This was delicious. I used toasted almonds instead of pecans & strawberries instead of blackberries, and raw honey instead of agave, but it was delicious! I bought all the proper ingredients to make it again this week, but if it is half as good as my manyreplacements version, I am going to be so excited. Oh, also, I toasted some amaranth along with the almond slivers, which adds a delicious crunch and a complete protein health benefit, too!


i am a food tech now i am working dubai dairy and i like your recipe and your prepration mathod thanks baye


I have had a box of Trader Joe's buff-colored quinoa sitting in my pantry for months and finally got to use it for this recipe! The texture was somewhat between couscous and oatmeal. I put in toasted walnut pieces, blackberries and sumac honey. We have not had quinoa before and everyone loved this, including my meat-loving, oatmeal-hating youngest daughter. thank you Heidi, not just for this recipe, but for such a fun, upbeat, positive and creative column!

angela wang

Oh my gosh! I am eating this literally as I type - I just made it - and it is HEAVENLY. Here are the changes I made: * I didn't have any 1% milk because I only drink skim, so I used skim milk and added a tablespoon of butter to make up for the fat content and different texture. * I didn't have red quinoa, so I used the normal, "buff" kind. * I also didn't have agave nectar, so I used honey. Those are all pretty minor changes - it still tastes incredible!


Thanks for this! This is a great addition to my morning grains. I usually go back and forth between oats and brown rice. I love savory quinoa recipes, and have never tried it sweet. I'm looking forward to it!

Julian Greene

You did a fabulous job on your quinoa. My family loves the red quinoa more than the white. It has a wonderful flavor and doesn't have the grassy taste that you can sometimes get with the cream colored quinoa. Sheltie Girl @ Gluten a Go Go

Sheltie Girl

I love your blog, Heidi! I've been reading for a little while, but this is my first comment. I just love quinoa porridge for breakfast. I definitely like to soak it overnight to help with digestibility. It also seems to make it "creamier." For additional creaminess, a splash of coconut milk is really delightful. I also second the vote for quinoa flour. I have a gluten-free cake recipe made from quinoa flour (it's on my blog now), and it's very yummy.


This looks absolutely incredible! I just love it when healthy + beautiful foods combine :)


I'll definitely give this a try. Looks great!


I am making this for breakfast! (I just happen to have all the ingredients.) This book sounds fantastic-a nice counter balance to my recipes, ha ha!


Wowy wow wow! I loved red quinoa. I'm going to have to make this at work. My customers would love it. I would love to post this on my Veg Head carnival. Erik, that sea bean salad on your site looks amazing. Thanks for the note!

Chef Erik

Currently in my line of work I am cooking for some folks who need high protein, delicious, but easily digestible breakfasts foods...this recipe was perfect for such a set of needs. I subbed the low fat milk for almond milk and that worked oh so nicely...

Sweet Pea

I have to have this cookbook for my cookbook collection. I just put it on my wish list. Great review and the recipe looks delicious.

Susan Billie Taylor

Heidi: Can you describe the recipe a little deeper?. Is it creamy like eating oatmeal, or is it dry and fluffy like when you cook a savory quinoa recipe? Hmm. Tough question. I'd say neither, or somewhere in between. But I'll add that the texture is affected by how much milk is absorbed and the temperature at which you eat it. If you leave this quinoa in the refrigerator overnight the whole bowl will firm up, when reheated it will loosen up again. You can add an extra splash of milk here and there to control the consistency until it is just the way you like it.


I just made the quinoa/corn flour crepes last night and they were delicious (of course - everything I've made from this site and the cookbook have been delicious!). Highly recommended recipe - the addition of the cheese and potatoes really pulled the dish together, and I found that I didn't even need much cheese, as gruyere is pretty strong, and went quite nicely with the quinoa/corn flour mixture. And with the chile de arbol sauce ... amazing!


What an absolutely glorious recipe. At the moment for me every road seems to be leading to quinoa. Every blog I read features quinoa. Clients are asking me about it and every recipe I'm attracted to has quinoa. I shall be trying this out soon.


Once again, your photos make me NEED to try out your recipes. And once again, delicious results! Thanks!!


Delicious! I love quinoa! a breakfast idea sounds great!


Oooooooo, this is JUST what I can do with all the fresh raspberries that I've got growing in my yard, yummy! I'm thinking maybe some almonds, since I need to eat more of those....yum, yum, yum!! Thanks for a wonderful and timely recipe, Heidi


I can't wait to try this for my daughter. She is a little fussy about breakfast but this should be right up her alley! Thanks so much!


Thanks for all the great comments. Look and try the different colors of quinoa, I love this red one because of the unexpected color it lends to a plate, but the white/ivory quinoa is beautiful (and in my opinion, delicious) as well. I should also encourage you to seek out quinoa flour. I use it in the corn flour/quinoa crepe batter in Super Natural Cooking - and the grassy quinoa plays off the corn flavor beautifully - one of my favorite recipes in the book. Thats all for now, -h


There is a great summer recipe for a quinoa cucumber tabbouleh on www.inyourkitchen.com by Chef Ben at Parallel 33 San Diego


I just made this recipe- it was delicious! I love quinoa but have never had it for breakfast. I didn't have blackberries on hand so I used some thawed frozen blueberries and raspberries. This has all my favorite things. Yummy yummy yum yum!!


Julie - in addition to the single-serving rice and soy milk, you can also use canned evaporated milk. It comes in non-fat variety and is pretty thick/creamy for non-fat. It's also great in coffee..a good friend on a camping trip!


I recently tried a quinoa recipe, and it called for toasting it first, then rinsing. It came out great and I couldn't believe how much my picky family liked it! I got a specific request to make it again. I'll post it soon... Can't wait to try this one!


isn't it healthier if we soak the quinoa over night and not boil it?? of course you have to rinse it! quinoa is a cereal that comes into contact with a lot of germs from the field, guys who crop it, distributors etc..it's not hygienic at all not to rinse it! either in a drain, under flowing water, either in 10 waters, as they say


You don't have to rinse the quinoa before cooking it. I've been cooking quinoa for about two years now and have never rinsed it. I've never heard of anyone else rinsing it either. Also, it's good if you cook it with two cups veggie broth and a pinch or two of cumin. Try it! you'll like it and it's much better for you than white rice or pasta!


i love quinoa, but have experimented with savory variations only (many from your site!)... cant wait to give this a try! thank you!

charlotte s

Hi, Heidi...thanks so much for the fabulous photo of this terrific breakfast, and shout-out: you make my food look great! Yes, saponins are bitter and astringent, and not everyone's cup of tea, or bowl of whole grain; I didn't rinse in this recipe because they also appear to have cholesterol lowering properties, as does quinoa itself, and I like the play of bitter and sweet. But a quick rinse or toast (also removes saponins) will help people try the dish, so I'm all for it. Keep up the great work, and thanks again, Warmly JL n.b. Free sign-up for more of my recipes, and shopping lists, often with photos and video (from Lifetime TV), emailed weekly at www.ChefMD.com Thanks for the great recipe John. I look forward to trying many more of them. I hope you have much success with your book, it is much deserved.

John La Puma, M.D.

I love Quinoa, regular and red. And have always used this lovely grain in savory side dishes, but had never tried a sweet version; your breakfast looks especially good and I can't wait to try it.


The picture looked so good I had to make a big batch last night to eat cold for breakfast at my desk! I'm sure it's great warm, but it is amazing chilled overnight and eaten cold. (Well, nearly room-temperature by the time I got to work.) I chopped up some prunes and added them to the pot when I took it off the heat, because I like my breakfasts to be sweet and I wasn't sure about the agave nectar. Delicious. The prunes and blackberries go great together. And I did buy agave nectar, inspired by this recipe - I've always scoffed at it, but it is really good. For those of you afraid of the bitter taste of quinoa, Bob's Red Mill brand comes thoroughly rinsed and I don't get a bitter flavor from it at all. I can find Bob's Red Mill grains at Whole Foods and on an endcap in my regular supermarket.


Wow, those ingredients look like they were made to go together. I love the addition of blackberries.


This is very similar to a breakfast I make often since it's so healthy and gluten-free but I never thought to cook the quinoa in a combination of milk and water instead of just water. I'm excited to try it!


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