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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What a great gluten-free recipe, Heidi! I heart your gluten-free section! Is there a reason you did not tag this recipe gluten-free?


@Julie: The coconut milk would likely have a significantly higher fat content than any other milk. For camping, I would try one of the shelf-stable, single-serving packs of soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk.


Thanks Heidi! I do miss the pictures but your picture of Dr. LaPuma's cinnamon quinoa recipe got my attention. After reading your blog, I immediately went out and purchased his book. Someone ought to tell him that he needs some pictures to entice people to buy it. Anyway, thanks for the skinny on Chef MD's book.


Yum! This looks great. Has anyone tried this using coconut milk instead of cow's milk? I'm thinking this would be great for camping, but would need to have canned milk in that case.


Perfect! My husband does not enjoy oatmeal, but I love hot cereals. One mom also suggested to me to serve left over quinoa in a similar way. She would reheat it with cinnamon, and serve it with maple syrup, butter, and dried fruit.

Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

Thanks for this post! I didn´t know about the trick of washing quinoa first. I didn´t like quinoa, and I suspect that this was the reason. I can find some red quinoa nearby, so I´ll try it for sure Thanks again!


Huh, for some reason it never occured to me to use quinoa in a sweet application. I must thank you for turning me onto quinoa. I have decided that barley is my next grain to try (for some reason I have bad risotto karma so I'm hoping your barley "risotto" will take care of that)


For those who are trying to develop a taste for quinoa (kin-waaaaah), check out the quinoa cakes at the Whole Foods deli counter. so good and so good for you. Please somebody post their results AFTER making these lovely recipes. I wanted to comment on the beautiful success I had with Heidi's elegant Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies, but sadly the postings seem to be closed. My search for chocolate nibs took me to Surfas kitchen supply in Culver City... and that alone was a fabulous experience. Add these delish cookies to a little adventure like that and you've got yourself a beautiful day.


Yes, this looks amazing. I too haven't liked the flavor of quinoa but will try this. I also wanted to tell you I tried the Strawberry Panzanella. I loved the look of the picture and have always liked adding fruit and whole grain bread to my bread pudding but wasn't sure that my family would like its crunchiness. It was a hit! I will make this again and again! And definitely try this beauty too!


Wow this looks so delicious ... especially the fresh blackberries! I definitely need to get my hands on a copy of this cookbook. Thanks for the recipe!


Oh does that look so yummy. Although for some reason, it doesn't seem so appealing as it's a hot day here in NYC. I'd probably just munch on a big bowl of berries... maybe sprinkled with pecans or almonds. Yummy! I definitely want to check out this cookbook, though. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention Heidi. :)


GORGEOUS quinoa dish; and fabulous cookbook!!


Thanks for bringing the cookbook to my attention as I am fascinated with the ideas and practice of incorporating delicious foods as good medicine.


looks amazing and I have some red quinoa, too! thanks for the simple recipe that would make a complete meal (since quinoa is a "complete grain" packed w/ protein). love that most of your recipes are vegan or easily substituted to make it vegan.


This looks incredible! I'm a total quinoa-holic but have been looking for different ways to prepare it, instead of constantly using it in salads or as a side. How nice to have a non-savory option! Can't wait to give it a try!


This looks great. The weather here's been abysmal, and this looks like the perfect dish to take some of the chill off. I haven't seen many recipes actually calling for agave nectar. I've used it as a substitute a couple of times, but it's great to see it actually called for.

Fearless Kitchen

We don't have Trader Joe's in Texas -- it's the home of Whole Foods -- but for Lael, any Whole Foods, Sun Harvest {now owned by WF}, Central Market, or H.E.B. stocks quinoa... depending on where you are, that's probably Austin or Dallas, unless Abilene or Lubbock have H.E.B. If you're really out west, online's probably best.


Nice! This looks like a fantastic alternative to the steel cut oats we usually have. (faster too!)


Lael - I know Trader Joe's has inexpensive, organic quinoa (though not the red kind). Heidi - This is my first time commenting, but I have been reading your blog for a while and absolutely LOVE it. I have made so many of your recipes already and, seriously, every single meal has been amazing. I'll definitely give this one a try. I live in Oakland - are you already getting berries at the markets across the bay?!


I love quinoa for breakfast... and now I must find red quinoa. That photo is mouthwateringly beautiful. Do you like to toast quinoa prior to boiling? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Cheers.


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