Quinoa: Cardamom Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

Cardamom Quinoa Porridge_ForkFingersChopsticks.com

Since I started this blog I’ve become a food history nerd. I get excited about sexy stuff like botanical names and species, nutritional makeup, and how an ingredient was cultivated and used in a particular culture. As I learn, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation of food and its long, long journey over time and distance to my plate.

If you’re unfamiliar with quinoa, chew on this . . . Today, quinoa is considered a “superfood” and I’d venture to say it’s on the brink of becoming very mainstream.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) dates back more than 5,000 years and was a staple to millions of South American natives. The grain has a texture between millet and couscous, and can easily be substituted for rice or ground into flour. It was an ideal food in the Andes mountain region, where it sustained the altiplano Incas in Peru and Bolivia. It is high in protein and grows well in cold and high altitude areas; locations where maize could not grow.

The Incas considered quinoa to be sacred and referred to it as the “Mother Grain.” It was used in ceremonial practices, as well as consumed daily in porridges and soups. After the Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire in the 1500s, production declined for centuries. The Spaniards destroyed quinoa crops and forbid its cultivation because of its use in non-Christian rituals. Fortunately for us, the grain grew wild and people in remote villages still cultivated it.

Over the last several hundred years it has slowly re-emerged. The demand for quinoa has spread worldwide, particularly in the United States the last 40 years. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is your chance.

Take a lesson from the Incas, quinoa makes for a hearty and comforting breakfast. Like a porridge of oats or other grains, it’s easy to make and even better with cardamom, cinnamon, nuts, and dried or fresh fruit.

Tidbits on Quinoa:

  1. Before cooking quinoa, always rinse the grain well to remove its slightly bitter coating. Rinse as you would rice, until water runs clear.
  2. Quinoa is used and referred to as a grain but technically is a seed. Quinoa seeds expand about four times their size when cooked.
  3. Quinoa is a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is usually deficient in most grains. It is high in protein (8 grams/1 cup cooked), fiber (5 grams/1 cup) and a good source of iron, zinc, vitamin E, and selenium. It is also good for those eating gluten-free.

Quinoa -Cardomom for Quinoa Porridge _ForkFingersChopsticks.com

I used another 1/2 cup of milk at the very end for a looser porridge and to make it creamier. As with all porridges, change up the ingredients – the spices and toppings to suit your taste. Add the ground cardamom sparingly – a little goes a long way.

You can save time by making a large batch of quinoa in advance. When ready to eat, reheat and add milk, spices, nuts and fruit.

Cardamom Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

Serves 4

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well

1 cup water

1 1/2 to 2 cups milk

2 tablespoons honey or other sweetener

2 green cardamom pods, seeds ground

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Chopped almonds or nuts

Dried cranberries

Butter, optional


  1. Rinse quinoa well. In a medium pot over high heat, bring quinoa, water, and 1 1/2 cups milk to a boil. Cover with lid ajar and reduce heat, simmer low for 15 – 20 minutes or until quinoa grains become fluffy. Watch pot to avoid boil over. Add honey, ground cardamom and cinnamon (add spices a few dashes at a time to taste). Add more milk for a creamier, looser porridge (about 1/2 cup). Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes.
  2. Serve hot with a dab of butter. Top with chopped almonds and dried cranberries.


Milk:  soymilk, almond milk or coconut milk

Nuts:  walnuts, cashews, pecans, or pistachio

Fruit:  fresh or dried; apricots, berries, mango, etc.

Sweeteners:  agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or sugar

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10 Responses to Quinoa: Cardamom Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

  1. Ricky Gildon says:

    Looks tasty….You can prepare this the next time we have breakfast at your house….

  2. Nicola Grun says:

    Now this looks right up my alley!

  3. Celestina says:

    Interesting article! I did not know that quinoa is a seed and high in protein! I will to try to make as my new pregnancy superfood breakfast since I need to eat lots more protein rich food for baby. I am assuming since it’s not a legume, it does cause your stomach to “bloat” necessitating beano pills???

  4. Celestina – Quinoa, particularly the white variation, is lighter and is unlikely to make you gassy. Make sure to rinse it well. If you have a delicate stomach, introduce it into your diet reasonably. I’ve never had any problems. When I make it, I eat a lot.

  5. crystal says:

    I will definitely try this. Quinoa is considered a super nutritious food in many places …in Japan they give it to sick people. We had delicious quinoa pancakes in Peru that I wish I could get a recipe for. Anyone?

  6. Crystal: I will look into the pancakes. I don’t remember having them in Peru, but it sounds tempting already.

  7. molly says:

    oh me, oh my. i love quinoa, and cardamom even more. will have to give this a go!

    Andrea (FFC): The cardamom makes this dish so comforting. But, I admit, I like nearly all things cardamom.

  8. I am very excited over your pairing of quinoa and cardamom—two of my faves! Just made quinoa tonite!

  9. […] with protein since it has chicken and the “Mother Grain” – quinoa. Read more about the history of quinoa and its nutritional benefits in my previous […]

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