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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Quinoa for a Protein Powered Breakfast

School is now in session, which means its back to routine for parents and kids. But with the craziness of getting everyone ready in the morning, breakfast often gets overlooked and shoved aside. Don't let it! I've told you before that breakfast if truly the most important meal of the day; well, it is! You and your kids need to fuel up to get your brain and body ready to learn and be productive. And it doesn't take as long as you think to get a good hearty breakfast on the table.

Check out my previous post, "Choose Breakfast for a Healthy Start" for some easy breakfast ideas. And if you're tired of the ole' cold cereal and milk, try "Cinnamon Quinoa with Peaches." This protein powered recipe is in the American Heart Association's new Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook and is perfect for a cooler weathered morning. You might be thinking, "Who has time for a slow cooker meal for breakfast?" However, slow cookers are great to turn on as soon as you get up in the morning. And by the time you and the family are ready to head out the door, your slow cooker breakfast awaits you. Just make sure to choose recipes that only take 1-2 hours and do any prep work the night before. This recipe uses a simple sauce made with fat free half-in-half, sugar and vanilla extract. Whip it up the night before and store in the fridge until the next morning to save some precious time in the morning. The recipe uses frozen peaches, which are simple and easy to thaw, but feel free to use fresh peaches while they are in season!

If you are unfamiliar with quinoa, this is the perfect introduction to one of the most nutritious foods around. Even though we consider it to be a whole grain, it's actually not a grain but rather a seed. It's high in fiber, high in quality protein, and is a good source of vitamin E, folate, magnesium and phosphorus. Quinoa cooks much like rice does and can be used in many dishes that call for rice. But it's so versatile that it can even be used in a sweeter dish. Give it a try and let me know if you like it!

Cinnamon Quinoa with Peaches

Cooking spray

2 1/2 cups water

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well under cold running water and drained

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups frozen unsweetened peach slices, thawed and sliced or diced

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, dry-roasted and coarsely chopped

Lightly spray the slow cooker with cooking spray. Pour in the water. Stir in the quinoa and cinnamon. Cook, covered, on low for 2 hours or on high for 1 hour, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Just before the quinoa is ready, in a small bowl, stir together the half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla until the sugar has dissolved. Spoon the quinoa into bowls. Top with the peaches. Pour in the half-and half mixture. Sprinkle with the pecans.

Serves 6

Nutritional analysis per serving: 254 Calories, 7 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 65 milligrams sodium, 42 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 10 grams protein

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