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A quinoa bake square with breakfast yogurt parfait!
I recently found a Pinterest pin for a quinoa breakfast bake. I'm all about having something pre-made and ready to go in the morning for breakfast, so making something like this one afternoon will give me part of breakfast for the rest of the week (and enough for some daytime snacking, too, tee hee ^_^)! 

You know, when I tell people I know that I eat quinoa (pronounced keen-wah; it's okay, I didn't know at first either), I usually get one of two responses: 1) They have no idea what it is, or 2) They say, "Oh, I've heard of it, but what is it?" Since I'm from Hawaii and pretty much everyone here eats [white] rice everyday with one or more of their meals, my answer to the question is normally starts with, "You eat rice? It's like rice. You can cook it the same way and eat it the same way, but it's healthier and better for you." If you look at the pic on the left, they don't look alike, but they have the same texture, about the same taste, and can be used in pretty much all the same recipes. And then, of course, people ask how is quinoa better for you? And then I have to launch into explanation mode...

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Quinoa (left) and brown rice (right)
Between white rice and brown rice, white rice is a CLEAR LOSER. While both are still the same kind of grain, white rice has been much more processed than the brown sort. To get white rice, manufacturers have to remove the husk, bran, and germ of the rice grain, which are all the parts of the grain where the nutrients are found. While they sometimes try to synthetically add nutrients back into the rice (i.e. "enriched" rice), it's obviously not going to be as great for you if they had to chemically try to give it back the nutrients the rice naturally had before they stripped it. Brown rice, on the other hand, only has the husk (the outer most layer) of the grain removed, so it still has the nutrients of the bran and germ. People in Hawaii eat (and most restaurants here serve) A LOT of white rice, like disproportionally so (like 2-3 ice cream heaping ice cream scoops of white rice with a fried and chopped up chicken cutlet, both slathered in some kind of sauce, and with a heaping side of macaroni/potato salad, the kind made with tons of mayonnaise...bleh >_<). And that's what I grew up on. I hadn't even bothered with brown rice until I was almost done with high school!

Quinoa and brown rice debatably come to a tie nutrition-wise, but quinoa always sort of pulls ahead just a bit for me, even if you're eating brown rice. Here's why I think so:

  • Reasons Why Quinoa Is A Winner (over rice)

    1. Although the preparation method is essentially the same, quinoa only takes about 15-20 minutes to reach a tender cooked stage. On the other hand, brown rice takes almost twice as long and sometimes longer.
    2. Brown rice can be a lot chewier, especially depending on how well/long you've cooked it, whereas quinoa tends to be naturally softer and more tender.
    3. Nutritionally, while quinoa has a slightly higher fat content, it also has more dietary fiber (see my older post for a little more about fiber) and protein than brown rice. I'd say that's a worthwhile tradeoff.
    4. Quinoa is known for being a good source of protein because it's a complete protein that has all the "essential amino acids" (amino acids are the molecular building blocks that make up proteins, in case you didn't know). In other words, quinoa has the amino acids that your body needs but doesn't produce on it's own. Brown rice, however, is not a complete protein.

So take all of that into consideration. White rice is completely out, but it's up to you to pick brown rice or quinoa. In the meantime, buy a small bag of quinoa to try it out if you haven't, and make my recipe!! :D The original pin on Pinterest claimed that the bake was full of protein, but it wasn't enough for my needs, so I added some protein powder to it.

Cinnamon Quinoa Protein Bake

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Makes 9-12 servings (depending on how you cut it)

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 C quinoa, cooked & cooled
  • 3/4 C liquid egg (or 4 large eggs, beaten)
  • 1/3 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 scoops cinnamon swirl protein powder (or vanilla protein powder)
  • Optional: 1/3 C agave/honey/maple syrup

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375F, and line an 8"x8" pan with parchment paper (should hang over sides of pan like in picture below) and lightly grease.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk everything except the quinoa together until well combined. Protein powder and cinnamon should not be clumpy.
  3. Add quinoa to mixture and stir with a large spoon or spatula to combine.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and spread mixture out evenly with a spatula. Bake 20-25 minutes until it's set and golden.
  5. Using parchment overhang to remove quinoa bake from the pan as soon as possible onto a wire rack/cooling surface.
  6. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Serving suggestion: Serve with a dollop of peanut/preferred nut butter.

(Original recipe can be found here)

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Parchment doesn't HAVE TO overhang all four sides, but make sure it's high enough to keep in the whole quinoa mixture.
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Overhang will help you quickly pull the bake out of the pan when you take it out of the oven.

Sources:
Photo: http://eatsylviaeat.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/quinoa-vs-brown-rice2.jpg
http://www.bradgouthrofitness.com/food-wars-rice-vs-quinoa/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/437513-brown-rice-vs-quinoa/




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