The cherry and vanilla combination has to be one of my all-time favorites. It reminds me of being a kid. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it transports me back to the Blue & Gold Ice Cream Shop near our small town growing up and the walk up window where I used to order my plain vanilla soft-serve cone with sprinkles, and a long stem cherry on top. To this day I remember trying to preserve the most cherished part, the cherry of course, by eating all the ice cream surrounding to savor that sweet red treat at the end.
Needless to say my efforts never paid off and I ended in tears starring at a red stain on the sidewalk. It was actually quite traumatic for this former ice cream fanatic. (Okay, so maybe that wasn’t as momentous as I once believed).
All this to say I have always loved the mingling of cherries and vanilla in my food and in my ah-hem, “old age” have now incorporated it into a hot breakfast quinoa cereal. You could easily adapt this to add into your morning oatmeal as well. Top with chopped or slivered toasted almonds for some extra crunch.
And if you really want to go crazy garnish the top with a long stem cherry and see if you can wait ’til the end. I dare you.
I know I’ve been on a morning meal kick lately, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (Promise I’ll switch it up after this one.)
CHERRY-VANILLA HOT QUINOA CEREAL
gluten & dairy free
• 3/4 cup QUINOA
• 1 cup UNSWEETENED ALMOND, COCONUT or NONFAT MILK *
• 1 cup WATER
• 1/8 tsp SALT, SEA
• 1/2 tsp CINNAMON, GROUND (more or less to taste)
• 1/8 tsp NUTMEG, GROUND
• 1 tsp PURE VANILLA EXTRACT
• 1/2 tsp PURE ALMOND EXTRACT
• 1/2 cup SWEET CHERRIES, WHOLE, FROZEN
• 1/4 cup DRIED CHERRIES or CRANBERRIES
• 2 or 3 STEVIA PACKETS (or 2 T. PURE HONEY)
*I used coconut milk in the recipe & nutrition info. Add extra calories if using regular cow’s milk.
1. In a mesh strainer rinse and drain quinoa. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and toast quinoa 2-3 minutes, stirring, until fragrant. Add milk, water, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Heat to a boil then simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed and quinoa is soft.
2. Turn heat off and add frozen cherries, vanilla extract, almond extract and Stevia (or honey); stir with a wooden spoon to combine and mash whole frozen cherries as they soften gently with spoon. Then fold in dried cherries. Serve warm with extra milk, garnish of chopped almonds, extra honey or pure maple syrup if desired. Refrigerate covered tightly for 1-2 days, reheat or eat cold. Serves 2, about 1 1/4 c. servings.
VARIATIONS: Add a little real unsalted butter, shredded coconut, chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) or top with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt to serve.
NUTRITION INFO PER SERVING: 290 calories, 5g fat, 2.5g sat fat, 150mg sodium, 53g carb, 5g fiber, 13g sugar, 8g protein