Protein is critical for a child’s mental and physical growth. In fact, babies and toddlers grow so rapidly that they actually require more protein per pound of body weight than older kids and adults. Each cell in our bodies is comprised of protein — it aids everything from brain to muscle development.
I usually only buy ethically-treated animal products (think pole-caught tuna and eggs from only pastured chickens), but it can get incredibly expensive. So, we eat animal products less frequently or in smaller quantities. Because of this, I’m always on the hunt for alternative protein sources to help round out our diet and ensure we get an adequate amount of protein. Enter: Quinoa.
Quinoa is a great source of protein and I love making a big batch in the beginning of the week and incorporating it into various recipes for lunch and dinner. However, it rarely makes an appearance at breakfast.
Recently, a friend recommended this recipe (found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s awesome cookbook It’s All Good). It uses quinoa flakes and some dried fruit to make a simple granola that I love using as a topping for greek yogurt (another amazing protein source) or even soaked in almond milk for a yummy gluten free cereal. I’ve adapted the original recipe only to modify it so the nuts and fruits are small enough for a child to chew and not choke on.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
- 3 cups quinoa flakes
- Pinch of coarse sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups finely chopped raw walnuts
- 3/4 cup finely chopped dried figs
- 3/4 cup finely chopped pitted prunes
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Whisk together the olive oil and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl and add the quinoa flakes, stirring to combine thoroughly.
- Evenly spread the quinoa on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
- Roast, stirring now and then, until the flakes are dried and crunchy and a lovely golden brown, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, use a food processor to pulse the figs, walnuts and prunes until a fine consistency, no larger than pea-sized. Nuts in particular can be a choking hazard, so this step is absolutely critical if you plan on sharing this with your mini-me.
- Let the quinoa mixture cool completely before mixing with the remaining ingredients. Store in a glass jar for up to 2 weeks.
- While you could chop all of this by hand, I highly recommend a food processor to reduce the time it will take! Also, a food processor can ensure all the pieces are finely chopped and an even consistency.