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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For all of those Quinoa Skeptics who posted, yes, you should rinse the quinoa to remove the saponin, the natural, bitter component of the seed, and toasting it before cooking makes a huge difference in the final taste and texture (as it does for all grains and seeds!) This is the method I use: INGREDIENTS 1 cup dry quinoa yields approximately 3 cups cooked 1 ¾ c water or stock sea salt DIRECTIONS 1. Rinse the quinoa: pour the grains into a fine-meshed strainer set over a large clear or white bowl and run water over it. 2. Swish the grains around with your hand. Raise the strainer. If the water is clear and there are no bubbles, no more rinsing is needed. If the water is cloudy or sudsy, first check the grains closely and remove any twigs or other foreign matter. 3. Return the strainer to the bowl and fill it with clean water. 4. Rub the grains gently against the strainer. 5. Lift the strainer and empty the bowl. 6. Fill with fresh water and repeat until the water remains clear and there are no bubbles on the surface. (Red and black quinoa may bleed color, not to be mistaken with dirt or other impurities.) Allow quinoa to dry in strainer. 7. Toast rinsed and dried quinoa in a small saucepan (whatever you would use to cook rice) on medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until a nutty aroma leaves the pan. Have the pot of simmering water or stock (1 ¾ c) on another burner. 8. Once the grain smells toasty (about 2 min or so), carefully pour the hot water slowly into the pan with the quinoa (do this slowly or it will boil over). Add a good pinch of salt. Reduce to a simmer over low heat, and cook for approximately 15-17 minutes, until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and salt/season as desired. Hope this helps!!!


Normally, I love your recipes. This one not so much. Proteins and carbs don't go well together in the stomach, because we use different enzymes to digest them. All that quinoa, sugar, and nuts would knock me on my butt.


The recipe looks lovely with the red quinoa! I may have to give this book a go.


kind of like: "let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food... " it's so very true another beautiful bowl of beautiful food.

Claudia (cook eat FRET)

I make basically the same recipe as this with honey and untoasted nuts, but it just doesn't look anywhere near as stylish as this does made with red quinoa! I must go and check out John La Puma's website. I love the "kitchen as health spa" philosophy but I have to admit that I am sceptical until proven otherwise when it comes to these MDs who get into nutrition (some of them are fabulous while others talk utter rubbish). The recipes in the book sound delicious though.


Emily, can she do nutmeg? I've made some cinnamon-free dishes before and found that freshly grated nutmeg is a decent alternative (even better with some good vanilla).


curios, i just made quinoa today. mine had some penut dressing, over grilled veggies. i am anxious to try it cinammony!!

the p & a delicious chronicles

curios, i just made quinoa today. mine had some penut dressing, over grilled veggies. i am anxious to try it cinammony!!

the p & a delicious chronicles

Also... I've heard you definitely need to rinse quinoa before using. Toasting is also apparently good. I don't know this to be the case with quinoa, but I love toasting millet before using it. I just put it in saucepan over medium heat and stir, for about five minutes, until the millet starts to pop. I learned how to do this in the wonderful book, "The Healthy Slow Cooker," if anyone is interested. Though you all probably know this -- I'm a novice cook, and appreciated the instruction. :o)

Amy G.

Mmm, yummy looking. I did notice one thing - your quinoa is much darker than what I've been able to find in stores. I thought at first that maybe it was cinnamon dying the whole thing darker, but it looks like it's the actual grain. Are there more varieties than I'm aware of?


This looks wonderful. I've cooked millet as a breakfast cereal, but never quinoa -- I'm eager to try this. A source for quinoa in a remote area might be www.bulkfoods.com. I've bought several things there, including vanilla beans and yeast.

Amy G.

This looks absolutely fantastic. I don't have any quinoa in my pantry right now, but I might try it with WW couscous? Probably good? Thanks for the recipe!


this looks ridiculous good. looking for a new warm cereal recipe for my husband. this is right up his alley. kids should like it too! thanks!


I wish there was a cheap way to come by quinoa where I'm presently at (west Texas). I love it so much and this particular sweet breakfast presentation sounds delicious. I'll definitely bookmark it for when I get back to the Northwest and can also get my hands on local fresh berries. Thanks, Heidi!


I have definitely found that the key to quinoa is rinsing the grain first. Without doing so it has a natural chemical that makes it kind of bitter tasting and spreads into anything that you mix to it. What I do (I'd love to hear about others) is pour my desired amount of quinoa in a large bowl. Then fill with a generous amount of cold water. Rub my hands together with the grains in between. When the water get cloudy tip the bowl (cover grain with hand) empty and refill 2 more times until there is little "dustiness" coming off. The resulting cooked quinoa will have a much more neutral (but still nutty and delicious) flavor.


Heidi, this looks amaaazing, as does the book. Thanks for showcasing it. Are there any spices that could replace the cinnamon? I would love to make this for someone I know - who is gluten intolerant, but also can't do cinnamon. Would this be too bland if I just leave it out?


My wife is on a total Quinoa craze right now... she's gonna love this. Thanks!

Travis Thompson

Oh my God, that looks SO AMAZINGLY delicious! I *will* be making this recipe this week - and seeking out that book. Thank you for this great post. :) -Kate


I've also had a hard time liking quinoa. I was thinking that maybe it is important to rinse the grains well before using them?


This looks very earthy and wholesome. I haven't been able to develop a taste for this grain as of yet. I hope you give the butternut barley risotto a go for us, that sounds wonderful. Elizabeth David is one of my favorite cookbook writers, and I do believe not one picture is to be had. This always gives an element of mystery & imagination not seeing the food.


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