Spiced Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast Porridge with Pistachios

I’ve always eaten breakfast, but I haven’t always eaten breakfast well. For most of my life, breakfast meant a bowl of cold cereal and milk, or a couple pieces of toast with butter and jam. It was mostly carbohydrates with just a little fat, and I was always ravenous within a couple hours.

In Japan I changed my ways, partly because I was obsessed with the eggs and yogurt there, and partly because my teaching schedule left no time for a mid-morning snack. Breakfast had to get me through to lunch, which is why I ate the exact. same. breakfast. Every day for two years! I always had a super-thick piece of buttered toast — we’d call it Texas toast here — full-fat yogurt with muesli and fruit, and one hard-boiled egg. I never got tired of it. And its mix of carbs, protein and fat fueled me through lunchtime.

Since then, I’ve always strived to include a little protein and healthy fat with my morning carbs, and a little fruit to get the day started right. Usually that means toast topped with almond butter with a side of plain yogurt and fruit, or oatmeal with dried fruit, ground flaxseeds and nuts. But lately I’ve been in a rut and I’m hoping this porridge will snap me out of it.

October means pumpkin time — seriously, have you seen this month’s Fearless Flyer from Trader Joe’s? — and I’m always happy to celebrate. But you know what I’m not happy to do? Make a pumpkin recipe that only uses part of the can, so that I’m left with a weird little container of pumpkin puree in the fridge that inevitably goes moldy and makes me feel guilty when I have to throw it out. Pumpkin guilt: I don’t need it.

So this recipe intentionally uses a full 15-ounce can of pumpkin, which makes for a very pumpkin-y porridge. It’s also not terribly sweet, so if you want a full-on pumpkin-pie-for-breakfast experience, you may want to up the brown sugar. Either way, this is a perfectly autumnal breakfast full of protein and healthy fats to get you through the day — without a trace of pumpkin guilt.

Spiced Pumpkin Quinoa Porridge with Pistachios

Yield: About 5 servings

{ Ingredients }

2 cups quinoa
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 15-ounce can pumpkin (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups milk or non-dairy milk (I use almond milk)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon vanilla
Shelled pistachios, roughly chopped, for serving

{ Directions }

Thoroughly rinse the quinoa under running water for at least 2 minutes to get rid of its bitter coating. Alternatively, soak the quinoa for about 30 minutes and drain. Set aside.

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil or butter. Add the spices and salt and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring constantly, until spices are very fragrant. Add the pumpkin and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and bubbling. Add the quinoa, water, milk and sugar and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure porridge doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more water or milk during cooking if porridge gets too thick.

Remove pot from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve topped with additional milk, a little brown sugar and pistachios. Refrigerate leftover porridge and eat throughout the week.

• You can substitute 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for the cloves, allspice, ginger and cinnamon.

• Steel-cut oats or other grains can be used in place of the quinoa, but you may need to add more water or milk.



  1. #
    Sarah — October 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

    This looks crazy good. I got up yesterday thinking it was time for something pumpkin-y but the only pumpkin puree recipes I could find called for half a cup. I too hate half a can of puree just waiting to be tossed. So I skipped the pancakes and smoothies and now I can enjoy this! Thanks.

  2. #
    Lydia — October 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Looks amazing, pistachios are the perfect nut for this porridge. Like the green stem of the pumpkin.

  3. #
    Simone — October 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Funny enough we don’t have pumpkin in cans here so I would only be able to make my own purée. Which ofcourse would make it even more horrible if it would go bad in the fridge…:) but this looks amazing. I love quinoa and can’t get enough of it!

  4. #
    Rachel B, MS RD — November 18, 2012 at 6:34 am

    *Seriously good* Anjali! Thank you—I very much appreciate the proportions using a whole can of pumpkin. This tasty mix of pumpkin, spices, coconut oil, grains, and nuts is a very welcome way to enjoy the nostalgic flavor of the season in a healthy-start-to-your-day way. I replaced the brown sugar with blackstrap molasses, just cause it is what I had, and eased up on the sweetness to suit my palette. Walnuts were great with it too. YUM! I’ll come back to this recipe for sure.

    • Anjali — November 19th, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks, Rachel! So glad to hear it. And I’ll definitely have to try it with the molasses next time.

  5. #
    Anna — September 14, 2014 at 7:25 am

    THANK YOU for using a whole can! It’s pretty shameful how many half-empty cans of pumpkin I’ve thrown away after forgetting they were in the fridge!

    I made this this morning, and subbed agave nectar for the sugar to make it elimination diet-friendly. My only feedback is that the ratio of liquid to quinoa seemed to be a little low. Only about 15-20 minutes into the cook time, the pudding was already the consistency of a VERY stiff oatmeal. I ended up adding almost another full cup of almond milk to get it to the final consistency of a smooth pudding. But it did taste delicious topped with raw pecans, a splash of almond milk, and some agave nectar!

  6. #
    Janie — April 12, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    I have some left over cooked quinoa. Could I use it in this recipe? How would I change the liquid in the recipe? Thank you!

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