Quinoa’s popularity definitely peaked about three years ago. Had I written this blog post circa 2012 I would have gone on and on about quinoa’s high protein content, it’s nutty flavor, and the correct pronunciation. By this point, I’m fairly certain, that you, the intelligent food blog reader, already know ALL about quinoa. But, have you ever had quinoa for breakfast? Total Game Changer.
I first had “breakfast quinoa” when hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. Every morning we were coaxed out of our warm tents into the blustering cold with a bowl of piping hot, cinnamony quinoa. Aside from the beautiful scenery and coming face to face with llamas and el pacas, this quinoa was one of my favorite parts of the hike. It is THAT good. The vanilla and cinnamon combined with the slightly sweetened, nutty quinoa make for the perfect breakfast delight. Throw in some fresh fruit, and bam, you have a well-balanced meal. Bonus, it will give you all the nutrients (both carbs and protein) to stay strong and hike for 4 hours if need be. If you’re not going for a hike, it can help keep you full in order to ward off those pesky break room snacks.
When cooking quinoa I like to give it a little dry toast first. This helps get rid of the saponin which can taste slightly bitter. You can also rinse it using a fine mesh strainer, but I don’t have one, so I choose option one. Another note on cooking it, most recipes recommend a 2:1 ratio of liquid to grain, it turns out less liquid is better. Your quinoa will be more fluffy and you won’t have to worry about over cooking it. I find the ratio of 1.5 cups liquid to 1 cup grain is best.
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almond Milk.
Let me tell ya, there is nothing tastier (and easier to make) than homemade granola. Ten minutes of prep and you have an irresistible breakfast, snack, or dessert all week long. The store bought stuff just cannot compare (in terms of flavor and nutrition). Store bought granola tends to be very high in sugar and may have fun added ingredients like soy lecithin and high fructose corn syrup. Not to mention that your house will be filled with the wonderful scent of cinnamon and toasted almonds. The almonds are really the star of this granola. I used a combination of oven roasted dark chocolate almonds (heyy polyphenols) and sea salt almonds. Each are fabulous on their own, but together they make for the perfect combination of salty and sweet that is sure to satisfy any craving.
The granola, before it’s baked
By now, most everyone knows that nuts are healthy. If you weren’t aware check out my handy dandy Nut Guide. But did you know that almonds may be even healthier and lower in calories than originally thought? One ounce of almonds is listed as having 160 calories on nutrition labels. However, new research indicates that your body only absorbs about 120 of those calories. Due to the high protein and fiber content of almonds your body actually expends energy (burns calories) digesting the nut, so the amount of calories you absorb is about 20% lower than listed. Pretty cool, right? For my entire career as a dietitian I’ve been preaching to the choir that nuts are healthy, but beware of the portion size because they are a high calorie food. At 120 absorb-able calories per serving, I’m just gonna start preaching they are healthy, screw the calories! Just kidding, but really, my mind is blown. If you are interested in learning more about misleading calories counts on protein foods check out this article from the New York Times.
To recap, what have we learned? Almonds are a wonderful, not-so-high calorie food, which should be consumed on a daily basis. If you make this granola your taste buds will be happy, your tummy will be happy, and your house will smell like a Cinnabon Factory. Really, what more can you ask for in life?
Often times I’m asked, “what is the healthiest fruit?” I don’t really like this question because all fruits are good for you and they all offer different health benefits. The best fruit is the one that you enjoy eating and the one that is in season. In the summer, peaches might be the best fruit, in the winter, mandarin oranges are a good choice. However, if I was forced to choose an all-time healthiest fruit, I would probably have to go with blueberries. Blueberries have 4 grams of fiber per cup, 25% of the daily value for vitamin C and they are the highest in antioxidants of all the fruits. So go grab some blueberries while they are still in season. Eat them for a snack, put them on your cereal, or enjoy them in this scrumptious pie!
Is this pie healthy? Yes and no. For a dessert, it is definitely healthier. I reduced the amount of sugar and swapped plain Greek Yogurt for the sour cream filling. I also managed to sneak in a cup of whole wheat white flour into the pie crust. So it is a semi-whole grain blueberry pie. If you are trying to watch your diet but craving something sweet and decadent, a slice of this pie could be your answer!
Is this pie delicious? Yes, without a doubt it definitely is. The sweet and tangy blueberries pair perfectly with the luscious cream filling. The combination of the deliciousness and knowing that it is semi-healthy makes it really hard to stop at just one slice. This recipe is adapted from Eats Well With Others.
Place pie crust on a 9 inch pie pan. Deep dish works best if you have it.
Lightly prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust and fill with baking beans or pie weights. Bake 12 minutes. Remove pie weights and bake an additional five minutes.
Lower oven to 350. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until creamy and fluffy. Add in the yogurt, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt. Mix until combined. Spread evenly over the bottom of the pie crust.
In a large bowl, toss together the blueberries, cornstarch, 2 tbsp sugar, and lemon juice until well combined. Drop the berry mix over the top of the cream cheese mixture.
Bake 40-50 minutes until top is set. Remove to wire rack to cool about 2 hours. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours before serving.