Lemon Breakfast Quinoa with Toasted Almonds and Blueberry Compote
Sometimes it seems like everyone in New York City is overworked, stressed out, and generally on edge. As a very busy and important blogger that struggles with anxiety, mild insomnia, and a host of other white girl problems, I get it. It’s easy to fall into a negativity funk, especially in the wake of Winter Apocalypse 2014.
That said, I think everyone should spend a teensy bit more time doing things that make them happy. If we all took indulging our happiness a little more seriously, we’d be much more pleasant as a population (and at cocktail parties).
Deep thoughts by Serena. Tell everyone you know.
Luckily, a lot of things make me happy. Compliments, baths, watching Logan speak Spanish, compliments, teen novels, good hair days, compliments, and a cappella, just to name a few.
In case you got all excited about the a cappella part, I regret to inform you that I do not actually do any singing. I’m tone deaf. However, I very much enjoy listening to other people perform a cappella, especially when it involves festive mash-ups of Top 40 hits à la Pitch Perfect. Who doesn’t?
So, when I received an email from a friend last week informing me that the ICCA Finals (aka the Olympics of a cappella) would be taking place in NYC on Saturday, I immediately cleared my schedule. Was attending an a cappella competition a surprisingly expensive and mildly ridiculous way to spend a Saturday evening? Perhaps. But I was going to drink cocktails and watch a bunch of freakishly enthusiastic 20-year-olds do bad choreography while singing Katy Perry….
Saturday night was pure, unadulterated bliss. Accompanied by a motley crew of fellow a cappella enthusiasts, I rolled into the competition giddy with anticipation. What would they sing?! What would they wear???! (For some unknown reason, I felt an irresistible urge to shout, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” at the contestants, but I restrained myself.)
There was a minor hiccup when our group realized that none of us had seats together (which was very sad and awkward under the circumstances), but we ultimately commandeered some real estate in the very last row, where we were able to drink wine, make 10,000 illegal videos, and enjoy each other’s commentary in peace. Thank God.
As for the performances, I’m pleased to report that they were everything I dreamt they would be and so much more. There was beat boxing, awkward dancing, and wonderfully tacky color coordinated outfits. An all male group performed “Bleeding Love” better than Leona Lewis herself, and there were several interpretations of Beyoncé songs, which was obviously thrilling. Perpetual goosebumps.
Sadly our group’s favorite act (The Michigan G-Men) did not place in the top three, a travesty that we found rather devastating. Fortunately, we passed the boys in the lobby on the way out and were able to let them know how we felt about this injustice. At least two members of our very sophisticated group grabbed the arms of these unsuspecting young vocalists and shrieked, “YOU WERE ROBBED!!!” They may have been afraid of the wine soaked old ladies touching them, but they deserved to know the truth.
I’m grateful for this recent a cappella experience for many reasons, but mostly because it made me really, really, ridiculously happy. It’s been 72 hours, and I’m still feeling the performances’ mood-boosting effects (thanks in part to the many videos on my iPhone), especially in the kitchen. All that happy Serena currently wants to cook is lots of light, bright “feel good food” like Lemon Breakfast Quinoa with Blueberry Compote and Toasted Almonds, which is excellent news for everyone. Please direct your compliments to the ICCA (and the comments section).
I’ve been meaning to experiment with breakfast quinoa for a while (it’s been all over the interwebs for months), and I couldn’t be more thrilled that I finally took the plunge today. This stuff is magical, friends. It’s reminiscent of oatmeal or porridge, except that it’s a sh*tload better because quinoa is more flavorful, less mushy, and the health benefits put your standard breakfast cereal to shame. Fact.
Yes, there are endless possibilities when it comes to how you can flavor your breakfast quinoa, but I strongly recommend following my lead with this lemon, blueberry, almond situation. Cooking the quinoa in almond milk with a little cinnamon and maple syrup gives it a hint of sweetness while enhancing the naturally nutty flavor of the super grain, and adding lemon zest at the end really brightens the whole thing up. It’s delightful.
Lemon Breakfast Quinoa is bomb on it’s own, but the toppings are what will really rock your world here, people. Fresh blueberry compote provides amazing sweet-tart flavor (and looks fancy), and toasted almonds are the perfect finishing touch, making each bite an epic combination of creamy, nutty, fruity goodness with an irresistible crunch. I don’t really know what else to say except that it’s like sunshine and rainbows for your taste buds, and you’re gonna love it.
For the record, this bowl of happiness can be made from start to finish in less than half an hour and requires zero culinary skill. You can always make it in advance if you prefer and then reheat it with a splash of almond milk in the morning (or whenever the mood strikes). If you’re not into hot breakfasts, this stuff is also pretty awesome cold (think overnight oats) and can easily be taken on-the-go in a cute little mason jar.
It’s spring, friends! Let’s eat quinoa and get happy, dammit.
Lemon Breakfast Quinoa with Toasted Almonds Blueberry Compote: (Serves 2 normal people, 4 Gwyneths)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (I know I always tell you to use a 1 to 1.5 quinoa to liquid ratio, but this is an exception. You need the extra liquid to give the quinoa a more porridge-like texture.)
1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Zest from 1 small lemon (about 1½ teaspoons zest)
For the Blueberry Compote:
6 ounces blueberries
1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1½ tablespoons water
Preparing your Lemon Breakfast Quinoa with Toasted Almonds Blueberry Compote:
-In a medium lidded saucepan, combine almond milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and quinoa.
-Uncover and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa has the texture of thick porridge.
-While the quinoa is cooking, make the blueberry compote. In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and water.
-Now it’s time to toast the almonds. Heat a skillet or pan over medium heat (do not put any oil in the pan!). When hot add the sliced almonds and toast, shaking the pan regularly, for 2-3 minutes until they are lightly browned.
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