Quirky, Crunchy Quinoa

Craving a thick slice of cake first thing in the morning isn’t such an unusual thing in this house; Typically, one would simply need to pick up a knife, and shave a hunk off of whatever was made the day prior to indulge that impulse. The breakfast of champions, we would joke to anyone who could hear it, and possibly question that breakfast choice. Lately though, the cake stand has remained clean and empty, tucked away with the other stacks of plates and props in the closet. Time is getting the best of me, with the demands of so many freelance assignments on top of a brand new school semester to juggle, and the pastries just aren’t flying out of the kitchen like they used to. Plus, working on an ice cream cookbook demands that the oven remain silent for the better part of the week, lest I end up contending with a very messy and sticky photo shoot mid-afternoon.

So, what’s a gal with a yen for something sweet supposed to do in the early morning, craving something reminiscent of cake? Given the time to think about it and prepare in advance, make something healthier.

Perhaps I’ve strayed too far off the pastry path for some of you, but believe it or not, this quinoa concoction fulfilled that breakfast craving. Think carrot cake with a crunchier outcome, this simple cereal is more like granola in texture, but still much lighter than the typical nut- and fruit-heavy options.

I like it best with the sweetness and gentle twang of vanilla coconut yogurt (that early in the morning, I can almost pretend it’s cream cheese frosting) plus fresh berries, but the beauty of this basic formula is how easy it is to dress it up or down. Go crazy with mix-ins, or just eat it out of hand, on the go. This was just the healthy remodel that my “cake for breakfast” habit was long overdue for anyway!

Carrot Cake Quinoa Cereal
Inspired by Oh She Glows

1 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
2 Cups Carrot Juice
1 Tablespoon Flax Seeds, Ground
1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 – 4 Tablespoons Agave Nectar
1 1/4 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Pinch Ground Nutmeg
Pinch Salt

Begin by cooking your quinoa in the carrot juice. Simply bring the carrot juice to a boil in a small pot, and add in the dry quinoa. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and let cook gently for 15 – 20 minutes, until the liquid has all been absorbed. Let cool completely before proceeding. You can speed this up by transferring the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and stirring it around a bit, to let it air-dry more quickly.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and lightly grease a baking sheet with sides.

In a medium bowl, mix the cooled quinoa in with all of the remaining ingredients. Spread the mixture out on your prepared sheet, in as thin and even a layer as you can manage. This will help the cereal bake up nice and crispy, so take your time smoothing it out with either a spatula or lightly moistened hands.

Bake for 45 – 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until lightly browned and seemingly dry. It may still have a little bit of “bounce” to it, but don’t worry; it will continue to crisp up as it cools.

Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes about 2 – 3 Servings

Printable Recipe


55 thoughts on “Quirky, Crunchy Quinoa

  1. Man, this looks great. It makes me (almost) wish that I had a juicer to make my own carrot juice. I guess I might be able to ask the juice counter to make me just carrot juice, so that it’s freshest.

    1. Ha, me too! I actually bought my carrot juice from Trader Joe’s… Since it’s being baked anyway, I figured it doesn’t need to be uber ultra right-out-of-the-earth fresh, and bottled is fine anyway. Bolthouse brand also makes a plain carrot juice that you can find at most grocery stores.

  2. Trader Joe’s carrot juice it is — this looks too good not to make. I never would have thought to make granola from quinoa, but why not?

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever seen bottled carrot juice around here (Saskatchewan), but I do happen to have a juicer, and I do have a fondness for buying 10lb bags of carrots (they’re cheap!). Also, this is a really neat idea for preparing quinoa and I’m excited to try it!

  4. woah! i love quinoa and use it a lot but this is a totally new approach. thanks for sharing! TJs usually has cheap organic carrot juice too. :) wondering how this may work if i froze it instead of popping it in the oven. bookmarked it with my cookmarked.com account. looking fwd to experimenting!

  5. You had me at Carrot Cake. :) I never would have thought to cook the quinoa in carrot juice. I love sprinkling on some granola or toasted quinoa cereal on top of…well, pretty much everything! I will have to try this soon!

  6. You had me at carrot cake… anything even remotely resembling my favorite cake grabs my attention, and this quinoa cereal has certainly done just that. I just bought a bottle of carrot juice to make your carrot cake ice cream, but this might need to be made first!

  7. You have not strayed too far for me…this sounds like an amazing way to start your day.

    p.s. Can I come over for breakfast? I can be there early, with a fresh batch of almond milk.

  8. I love the idea of a granola-like cereal made out of quinoa! And you’re right, vanilla coconut topping would be fantastic…who needs “real” cake? ;)

  9. I often wondered what quinoa would when baked. This sounds delish!! I LOVE Carrot Cake!

  10. This sounds so good! And easy, too. I never really make quinoa for the mornings but it must be perfect with all its protein. Have you tried quinoa flakes?

    1. Ah yes- Quinoa flakes are not bad if they’re baked into something (used as a binder for vegan “meat”balls, for instance) but I’m not so crazy about them when they’re the star ingredient. Not sure what it is, but the flavor turns me off. Maybe I’m just expecting a flavor more like oats is all.

  11. AAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AMAZING! If only I could find carrot juice… hmm. Wait, I’m sure I could get a juice bar at the shops to make some for me! YES!

  12. I saw this on OSG a few months ago and decided to make it. I was very disappointed with the results–it never dried like proper cereal til it was almost burnt. Maybe it’s because I didn’t let it cool before crisping up completely. It was so crunchy and hard, it hurt my teeth. but, I trust you, if you made it, I know it’s got to be good. Let me give it another try soon because I love the idea of making my own cereal! And granola is getting a little boring :)

  13. I’ve never had quinoa before (on its own) but that looks absolutely delicious! Although, I will admit that you’ve just sparked a craving for double chocolate oreo cake for breakfast tomorrow.

  14. I just looked at the bag of quinoa on the shelf thinking I should cook something with it. Thank you for the inspiration, Hannah!

  15. This is a lovely gluten free recipe! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m looking forward to trying this so that I can have more breakfast options! I get so sick of the same old thing every morning!

  16. Wow. I’ve never thought to put Quinoa over my yogurt. I always use granola, nuts, berries, and a drizzle of honey but this looks like another healthy alternative.

  17. Tried this recipe tonight- Had it over vanilla greek yogurt & it was delicious! The prefect ending to my dinner. Great idea:) I added walnuts & raisins to make it even more like carrot cake. yummm.

  18. This looks delicious! I’ve been obsessed with Quinoa this summer and I’ve been making everything with it–soups, stir-fries, burgers. I’m so glad I now finally have a breakfast recipe to replace my beloved granola (tasty—but apparently chock-full of butter :/)

  19. I’ve tried Angela’s maple quinoa before and really enjoyed it and so I’m super interested in this carrot version you’ve made! It sounds amazing.

  20. Would this work if I omitted the flax and chia seeds, oil, and agave nectar? I would like to be able to make it by just baking the quinoa with the spices.

    1. I’m afraid it really wouldn’t be the same recipe without all those ingredients. The oil an agave are what make it crunchy, and the seeds hold the clumps together. If you want to avoid those elements, you might be happier starting with puffed quinoa instead.

  21. you really made my day with this one..I was just a lil bored of qunioa in my salads and lunches and buger patties and was looking at some alternatives..And this recipe is right something I needed. Also I am always looking for new breakfast ideas (just like most people do) and this one surely takes it to that level .Thanks so much for this.

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