Our new foodie hobby is eating at diners. In all seriousness, is there anything that rivals a food joint that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and homemade desserts all day long? Diners are the Baskin Robbins of restaurants—there is an option and flavor for every type of eater.
A few weeks ago, while eating at one of our regular diners, the one I cook for ordered homemade rice pudding. It was absolutely divine. I knew recreating this sweet, old-fashioned dessert was inevitable, yet I wanted to experiment with the traditional form and make my rice pudding as healthy as possible. With a full pack of quinoa in my pantry, I figured why not incorporate this super food in place of the rice? The rest of the ingredients are fairly standard—milk, sugar, vanilla—and difficult to substitute with healthier alternatives without completely changing the overall taste and feel of the pudding.
So how does the quinoa pudding rival that of rice pudding? While the quinoa pudding may not taste exactly like rice pudding, it still tastes incredibly delicious—almost comparable to a dessert oatmeal, especially with the hints of cinnamon. Another plus about this dessert is that it has a versatile taste, meaning you can decorate it with almost any kind of topping(s) you can think of, however, the pudding is still very tasty and satisfying on its own. By far, the best part about my quinoa pudding is its health benefits. When you break the pudding down, it’s really not all that bad for you, making this dessert a new regular in my kitchen. I think it’s important to note that the quinoa pudding could also make a great breakfast alternative that is off the regular beaten path of standard oatmeals and cereals.
-1 cup of quinoa
-1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar, divided
-1.5 cups of 2% milk
-1/2 cup of fat-free half and half
-1 tsp of cinnamon (optional)
-1 tsp of vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp of salt
-Pistachios and dried cranberries
-Banana and honey
-Brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg
-First, you need to soak the quinoa. In a large bowl, combine one cup of quinoa, four cups of water, and 1 tbsp of sugar. Let the quinoa soak for about a half hour, but make sure you stir the contents periodically. This is an important step because you want to try to eliminate the earthy smell and taste of the quinoa. With a spoon, remove any of the floating pieces of quinoa.
-In a medium to large pot, combine one cup of sugar, milk, half and half, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and the salt. Bring to a boil, but DO NOT turn the burner above the medium setting of heat. Burnt milk does not a good pudding make. Stir occasionally until the contents come to a boil.
-Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, add in the quinoa. Let the contents come to a boil.
-Once the quinoa mixture has come to a boil, lower the heat to low and let the contents simmer for approximately 30 minutes (or until the contents resemble that of pudding), stirring occasionally.
-The quinoa pudding can be served both cold and warm. I topped the pudding with some of our favorite toppings, but the quinoa pudding is also very tasty on its own.
-Last and most certainly not least, enjoy without guilt!