Vegan Mofo 16: Q is for pretty pink breakfast Quinoa in pink guava soup

A nutritious breakfast with a girlish charm.

Perhaps you saw this coming; I mean I racked my brains for other ‘Q’ ingredients but Quinoa is all I could think of. Nevertheless working with quinoa is fun since it’s so versatile and can be used in practically any dish from sweets to savouries. In a double stroke of luck, pink guavas and fresh figs were on sale this week and so I thought of combining these exotic fruits with red quinoa to create a pretty breakfast.

Quinoa is riding a popularity resurgence and much has been written about it (in fact I wrote about it in my Superfood Series which sadly has failed to take off) so there’s no need to delve too much into explanation. A gluten-free pseudo-grain, it is often highlighted for its complete amino acid profile (including lysine and isoleucine – the limiting amino acids in other grains) and highly concentrated nutritive value such as calcium and flavaoids (quercetin and kaempferol). Did you know that 2013 is also officially recognized by the United Nations as the International Year of the Quinoa? In fact, it is the only food ingredient to make this list apart from the humble potato.

Between red and white quinoa, I prefer the former for its more intense nutty flavour and visual impact. Apart from breakfast quinoa porridges and granola, which I enjoy occasionally as a departure from oats, some quinoa recipes I’ve got my eyes on include the famouus Life Changing Loaf of Bread (My New Roots), and a quinoa quiche or pizza. Quinoa flour is also something I want to experiment with, but probably not anytime soon, given the growing number of half-opened bags ingredients in the kitchen.

If guavas are not available, I suppose you may use guava paste of another intense-colored fruit of choice, like mangoes or strawberries. The main idea is to have a nice thick pool of fruity smoothie for the quinoa to swim in. I also added protein powder and pectin to the soup, which added a nutritional boost as well as help to thicken it.

Pretty Pink Breakfast Quinoa in Pink Guava Soup
Serves one.
Vegan.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup uncooked red quinoa
  • Flesh of 1 pink guava (about 1/2 cup), seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used hazelnut milk)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp pectin powder (optional – for thickening)
  • Splash of vanilla extract (optional)
  • Dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp maca powder (optional)
  • Your choice of toppings (I used fresh figs and desiccated coconut)

Directions

  1. Soak the quinoa overnight in a bowl of water. The next morning, place the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well under running water.
  2. Cook quinoa. Place the drained quinoa into a saucepan. Add about 1/2 cup water, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 mins until the water is absorbed and you can see the white curly rings of the quinoa. Fluff and set aside.
  3. Make the guava puree. Place the guava flesh into the saucepan and add the milk and water. Bring to boil, and simmer for about 5-10 mins or until the guava flesh becomes soft.
  4. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon and other powders (if using). Stir well.
  5. Pour the mix into a blender and blend (for less clean up use immersion blender).
  6. To serve, place quinoa into a ramekin and using a spoon, press down to make the quinoa stick together. Invert the ramekin onto a plate, then pour the guava soup over. Garnish with fresh figs or other fruits and nuts.

 

Pomp and Circumstance [with a smoothie to boot]

What an awesome and fulfilling 4 years in NUS it has been. Reminiscing back on the experiences which led to this milestone: rugged freshman orientation camps in year one when I was still a bright-eyed bushy-tailed eager-beaver freshie, my first real summer lab research on cell division in Year 2, exchange at King’s College London in Year 3, and the year-long Final Year Project in year 4 where thousands of Drosophila flies bravely sacrificed their lives in the name of cancer research. Also through these four years I have made some new friends, reunited with the old. As we go our separate paths from today, I hope these friendships will not be mere memories but continue for many years ahead.

These four years do not define me, even though it has taught me a lot. Behind all these notions of achievements and success lives a support network of family, friends, communities and of course, God, who propelled me to take inspired actions, challenge status quo, and to engage in the creative process of life. And with that, another chapter of my life comes to an end. And another one begins. What next? As Pablo Picaso said, “Everything you can imagine is real.” Medical school? Clinical research? PhD? Work? Start a business? As I go on to find my calling, I once again am deeply thankful for all the blessings in this beautiful life.

To celebrate in style, I whipped up a Funky Monkey Bananamon Smoothie for breakfast this morning, also in part to quell an inexplicable monstrous peanut butter craving. This is a a dark chocolatety peanut buttery smoothie made with bananas and chocolate peanut butter, spiced with cinnamon and vanilla. With added oats and protein powder, this made a healthy, filling breakfast.

Ingredients
Makes one cup.
Vegan.

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice or coconut)
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 3/4 tbsp cacao powder (Pacari raw)
  • 3/4 tbsp chocolate peanut butter (or peanut butter and a square of dark chocolate)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder (Garden of Life)
  • 2 tbsp oats, plus extra for topping (raspberry Galaxy Granola)

Directions

  1. Blend everything together until smooth. Garnish with extra oats or granola if desired.

 

Let’s Get Started

This morning we have a simple breakfast of leftover carrot cake + layered banana-beetroot protein smoothie. Layered banana beetroot smoothie

Layered banana beetroot smoothie

Bottom layer: 1/2 frozen bananas + 1 tbsp coconut milk + Garden of Life/sesame protein powder
Top layer: beetroot + mango + 3 tbsp soy milk

Actually I intended it to be a three-colour layered banana-beetroot-mango smoothie but I suppose because I did not use frozen mango, the mango layer became too liquidy and infiltrated into the beetroot layer. Oh wells, at least it’s still quite pretty to look at 😉

I really have and need to stop procrastinating and get started on graduate school applications – writing the personal statements, asking for recommendations and preparing for the MCAT, which cost a few hefty hundreds of dollars. If there’s anything to motivate me, I should remember the following quote:

You’ve gotta wake up every morning and ask yourself, ‘How bad do you want it?‘ How much work are you willing to put forth for the things and people you want and need in your life? Nothing great comes without effort. But I promise you that if it’s something of great meaning in your heart and something you need in your life…EVERY risk, EVERY step and EVERY drop of sweat will be worth it.