Quinoa Rice Pudding

I still remember the time before.  That is, the time before I had tried quinoa.  I saw it mentioned online and always walked by it in the grocery--I was intimidated because it got so popular quite quickly, and also just slightly giggling to myself that so many folks had grown so obsessed with something.  You see, I am the kind of person who does the opposite of a trend when I can help it; I prefer to be different (imagine my teenage years!).  I will admit this is not the best habit to have, especially since things can occasionally become popular for a truly valid reason--they are awesome!   As a matter of fact, I thought quinoa was pronounced "queen-oh-ah" for the longest time (it's actually "keen-wah").  I just didn't care enough to learn more.



Of course, this was a time before I had a real interest in food, and a time when I focused more on flavor and ease rather than the balance of healthy and tasty.  While I am a baker at heart and still make plenty of unhealthy desserts (most of which I share to get them out of the house!), I made a real effort last year to start adding the things that represent the real reason why we eat in the first place--to nutritionally feed our bodies--into my diet, while also finding the flavor I love so much.

This year I intend on doing double duty towards eating better, by really focusing on discovering new and better choices.  Due to a busy schedule at the end of the year, I have a good amount of recipes to still share, some of which will be totally unrelated to this goal.  There will be some interesting new choices coming to the blog soon, though.

So now for the good part, the food.  I started enjoying quinoa last year and was simply amazed at how much I enjoyed it.  I don't make it ridiculously frequently, as it can be quite expensive.  I tend to buy a bigger bag at Costco and just stretch it.  The neat thing is that a little bit goes a long way--the quinoa starts out tiny and after boiling increases drastically in size.  I started making it in place of rice as a side, then realized I hadn't yet added rice pudding to my baking list.

First, I boiled some quinoa. I estimated my quantity and made way over what I needed.  It worked out ok because I used it as a side dish over the next few days, but I had to cut the original amount I cooked in half.


After draining the water, I stirred in milk, brown sugar, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, then brought the mixture to a boil.


Finally, I stirred in some butter and vanilla.  The quinoa soaked up some of the milk and there was enough of the moisture left to create a chunky pudding.  Now I have seen rice pudding recipes that are more pudding than rice, so there's always the option to scale back on quinoa to get that result.


A match made in heaven.  Quinoa is an ultimate rice replacement.  The end result was quite thick, as mentioned above, but fit neatly into my expectations for rice pudding flavor.  In my opinion, the cinnamon and milk are the main components to make rice pudding have a good consistency and taste great, and this one hit the flavor nail right on the head.  I had enough for leftovers to share and got some good feedback that was also loaded with surprise--no one really expected quinoa to taste so good!  I think the biggest sign of a success was when I brought some to my parents without telling them what it was.  My mom, also known as the pickiest eater on earth, told me she loved the rice pudding, not even noticing there was a difference in one of the main ingredients.  Whole grains and protein stashed in rice pudding...now there's something to snack on.

Quinoa Rice Pudding Recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups quinoa, cooked
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Boil quinoa according to package directions (about 20 minutes).  Drain and leave in pan.  Stir in milk, brown sugar, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, then simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in butter and vanilla and serve.

Inspired by: rice pudding recipe

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