A hearty breakfast keeps me satiated and energized. I know I pushed steel cut oats as the Shelby’s favorite breakfast but lately I have been trying different foods. I want to get off my oatmeal dependency and see if there are other nutrient rich breakfasts for us to enjoy that do not involve grains. Plus I like variety and choice.
I am not knocking grains. I enjoy whole grains yet I realize that I need to limit my intake. Having grains with every meal causes my weight to go up. Back in 2009, when Marty and I began to eat very differently, we both discovered that our weight loss was more rapid when we cut back on grains. Most baked grain products such as breads, muffins, bagels, and crackers (even if they are labeled as 100% whole grain) tend to be loaded with sugar, fat and salt. Whereas with plain brown rice, wheat berries and oatmeal you can control and limit any additional sugar, fat or salt. I have figured out that it's best for my health to get the majority of carbohydrates from fresh vegetables and fruits rather than grains.
I have been very satisfied with the Strawberry Crunch Chocolate Mousse (made with chia, sunflower and hemp seeds) and variations on that recipe. Another breakfast treat packed with protein, fat and fiber is based on quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), which is not a cereal grain but a seed, with a slightly nutty flavor. This ancient staple from the Peruvian Andes comes in various colors from white, to red or black. When cooked, the pinhead size seeds plump up into tiny translucent balls with little white tails sticking out.
I add other ingredients to the quinoa for my breakfast, as it's shown in the photo. A chopped apple generously doused with cinnamon, some walnuts and hemp seeds with a sprinkle of date sugar. I toss it all in a bowl and if I want my breakfast warm I nuke it for a minute or two in the microwave.
Besides being an excellent source of protein, quinoa is high in fiber, which is great for digestive and heart health. Fiber fills you up and aids in weight loss. The mono-unsaturated fats in the nuts and seeds improve your blood cholesterol levels and the responsiveness of insulin in your body. And for those who need to avoid gluten, quinoa is a great pseudo-cereal choice. Quinoa lacks gluten and is easy to digest.
Preparing quinoa is simple. The ratio of seeds to liquid is 1:2. For every cup of uncooked quinoa, cook it in 2 cups of liquid. Before cooking the seeds rinse off the bitter saponin coating. Saponin is the quinoa plant’s natural defense from pests making it easy to grow without pesticides. Some quinoa packages will state if it’s been pre-rinsed, if you’re not sure go ahead and rinse the seeds.
- Use a fine wire mesh strainer to hold the seeds.
- Immerse the strainer into a bowl of water.
- Swish the seeds around in the strainer to rub off the coating.
- The rinsed seeds go right into a saucepan with the measured water.
- Bring water to a boil, then simmer covered for 15 minutes.
- The quinoa is ready when the little white tails poke out.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork.
- One cup of uncooked quinoa will yield about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
I consider a serving size to be ¾ cup of cooked quinoa. Just one cup of dry quinoa will provide four meals. Store leftover cooked quinoa in a covered container in the refrigerator. Quinoa can be eaten warm or cold.
You can add other ingredients to the cooked quinoa such as fresh berries or melon pieces, other nuts like almonds or pecans. For a creamier texture add in a splash of nut milk or coconut milk.
You can also experiment with cooking the quinoa by adding in other ingredients while it simmers such as:
- Dried fruits-raisins, cherries, cranberries, or goji berries
- Chia seeds
- Spices-cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg
- Vanilla extract
The next time I prepare quinoa for breakfast I’ll try Sharon Palmer’s recipe where she cooks with red quinoa, “Ruby Quinoa Breakfast Bowl,” found in her book, The Plant Powered Diet.
If you want to limit eating animal products, whether it’s meat or dairy, breakfast is a great place to start. Seven meals a week based totally on plants: seeds, grains, fruits and nuts. Plus all the ingredients are unprocessed, whole foods meaning no added fats, chemicals, dyes or preservatives. Instead these whole foods have the macronutrients of protein, carbohydrates, fiber and fat and are loaded with the naturally occurring micronutrients - the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to properly function, stay strong and be healthy.
Have you ever heard of having quinoa for breakfast? If so, what other foods do you like to add in? Share your ideas with us by clicking on 'Comments' below.
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The World's Healthiest Foods: Quinoa
Whole Grains Council: Quinoa
Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates and Fiber
Harvard School of Public Health: What Should I Eat? Protein