You might have read the title of this article and wondered if there was some mistake – quinoa – isn’t it meant for eating and not for drinking? Partially, you’d be right; quinoa is one of the best foods to add to your diet due to its rich amino acid profile, not to mention its hefty iron and potassium content. Its also not too shabby in the fiber and zinc departments either.
However, quinoa being the versatile, superfood seed that it is, can be used just like other seeds such as pumpkin, flax, hemp, and sunflower to make a variety of plant-based beverages. Just like you can use oats to make oat milk, you can also use quinoa to make quinoa milk. But quinoa’s taste alone really isn’t that great in a beverage. Unlike oats, it’s not particularly sweet in flavor, nor does it have that creamy richness that oats impart. Yet, when prepared a certain way, it turns into a delicious hot beverage that’s similar to a hot and creamy chai drink that typically uses soy, almond or coconut milk.
In fact, hot quinoa drinks are popular and regularly consumed in South America (specifically Peru) as a wellness drink. There, the drink is commonly made the night before so it thickens up for a quick reheat the next morning as a filling breakfast and way to start the day. If you’d like to try it at home, good news! Making a hot quinoa drink is easy to do.
Here’s the basics of what to use and how to make one for yourself:
First, Gather Your Supplies … and Choose Wisely
First, you’ll need to purchase regular quinoa or you can use the flakes, and try to buy organic to prevent pesticide exposure. The flakes are a bit easier to use since the quinoa seed has been broken down and flattened into a flake, much like rolled oats. This reduces the cooking time and also makes the end result creamier. The flakes also don’t retain as bitter of a texture as whole quinoa, even though rinsing whole quinoa can help reduce the naturally bitter taste to a degree. There’s also no soaking needed when using the flakes, and they’re still a whole grain product. These features are all major positives if you’re busy but want to try a handy, healthy new recipe. However, you can always use whole quinoa to make this drink as well and will still get a great beverage at the end. Some brands pre-soak and rinse their quinoa which can improve the flavor, so be on the lookout for these for an even better result.
Next, you’ll need some non-dairy milk of choice. Good choices here are almond, coconut, soy, and hemp or oat. For the healthiest option, go with a brand that’s unsweetened and free of carrageenan, though you can use whatever variety you like and still get great results. You’ll also want to make sure you have some alcohol-free vanilla flavoring (or better yet whole vanilla bean), a pinch of salt, a little cinnamon, and a healthy sweetener of choice. Some healthy suggestions for sweeteners are: stevia, applesauce to make it thicker and naturally sweet, pureed bananas or dates, or you can just enjoy it with sweet spices like cinnamon and cardamom. If you use options like coconut sugar and agave, those could also be used.
So, once again, here are your supplies: quinoa, non-dairy milk, vanilla, cinnamon and spices if using, sweetener of choice, pinch of salt optional.
Next, Prepare the Quinoa
Cook your quinoa on the stove, just like you were making regular quinoa. For every 1/4 cup quinoa flakes or whole seeds, you’ll need 3/4 cup liquid. You can use either all non-dairy milk or a mixture of non-dairy milk and water. Keep in mind that 1/4 cup dry quinoa makes one serving, so adjust the amounts accordingly.
Bring your liquid to a boil on the stovetop. Reduce to a medium heat and add the quinoa, salt, cinnamon and sweetener of choice. Stir to mix well and let it cook for the time recommended on the package with the lid on, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent sticking. Whole quinoa will take much longer (around 15 minutes), while quinoa flakes should take no more than 3-4. (You can also do all this in the slow-cooker overnight to save even more time by adding 1/4-1/3 cup more liquid to the cooker so it doesn’t dry out.)
Blend and Enjoy
Now that the quinoa has been cooked, all you need to do is slowly pour the mixture into your blender or you can use an immersion blender to mix it up in the pot itself. (An immersion blender change your life if you don’t already have one!) Blend until thick and creamy. If it’s too thin for your liking, strain it through a strainer and then pour into a hot mug. You can also cook the quinoa with more liquid and strain for a less-filling drink or to make a sweet, hot quinoa milk to drink like a hot chai, though it would be less filling and not retain the fiber found in the original beverage.
Either way you decide to enjoy it, be sure to drink it warm so it’s nice and cozy!
More Flavor Tips
You may need to add more cinnamon and/or sweetener to adjust to your liking, so find the right amounts of each for your preference. You can also try using spices like turmeric ( a fantastic and popular spice for your health), fresh ginger root or dried ginger, organic fair-trade cocoa powder or raw cacao powder, or even use this drink as a base for a thick creamy soup like parsnip or cauliflower. Or, consume it as a thick porridge and add fruits and other toppings you enjoy.
Add a little ethnic flair to your kitchen while also staying healthy! Do you use quinoa for any creative recipes?
Lead Image Source: Karen SuJo/Flickr