If you don’t know much about quinoa then you’ll be pleased to learn that it is in fact one of the most nutritious superfoods on the planet; offering a full spectrum of amino acids, plus fiber, nutrients, and omega 3 fatty acids. These are just some of the great reasons as to why you should be eating this glorious little seed as much as you possibly can, and one way to do that is through these delicious healthy quinoa breakfast recipes.
Since becoming a plant based eater it means I have had to really think about food in a different light. For instance, I can’t just throw together what was my usual meat and 2 veg anymore; I have to think about what I am doing and make sure I am giving my body everything it needs through proper food combining, and the understanding of plant macronutrients.
What’s so Great about Quinoa?
Quinoa is a perfect plant based food offering ALL 9 essential amino acids in sufficient amounts to be useful in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which is a macronutrient vital to keeping muscle mass high and in helping the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters.
Amino acids are categorised into 3 groups: non essential (meaning the body can produce its own), conditionally essential (meaning the body can produce its own unless specific circumstances stop the production, such as in the case of certain illnesses or stress), and essential (meaning they must be put into the body through either diet or supplementation). As this ancient seed contains considerable amounts of all the essential amino acids (something that can only be found in very few other sources in the in the plant world) it stands to reason that this is why it is known as such a healthy food.
Where does Quinoa come from?
There are actually around 120 different types of quinoa. Pretty mind blowing considering you only really see 3 different types for commercial use – these are the red, black and white variety; the most common being the white. A part of the Amaranth family, quinoa originated in the Andean mountains of South America and was a very important crop for the Inca empire, but it has since tripled in price now that it is so popular the world over.
Benefits of Quinoa
- HIGHLY NUTRITIOUS
- A ‘WHOLE FOOD’ – Meaning it contains all the components for a complete meal alone.
- GLUTEN FREE – So great for those with intolerances.
- HIGH FIBER – Fiber keeps you full, helps keep blood sugar stable, and helps to stop you snacking (all things great for weight loss).
- HIGH IN MAGNESIUM
- HIGH IN PHOSPHORUS
- SOURCE OF B VITAMINS
- CONTAINS OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
- CONTAINS THE FLAVENOLS QUERCETIN AND KAEMPFEROL
- HIGH IN IRON
- LOW GI – So great for diabetics; or anybody with blood sugar problems.
- HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS – Important for scavenging free radicals in the body and ANT AGING!
- A GREAT PROTEIN FOR VEGANS
- FANTASTIC FOOD FOR BUILDING MUSCLE
How to use Quinoa
The great thing about this versatile seed is it can be used at quite literally ANY meal both savoury and sweet, at ANY time of day. There’s not many foods you can say that about that’s for sure.
Here are some examples:-
- An alternative to rice, pasta, potatoes or any other carb you may wish to eat, depending on the dish. As it most closely resembles rice, then it makes sense to use it more as a rice alternative with maybe a curry or a chili con carne.
- Use as a protein source in itself alongside some roasted vegetables or a mixed salad.
- Grind up and used as a flour in cakes, breads, healthy cookies, or anything else you would normally use flour in. You should halve it with your normal flour as it’s pretty heavy to use on its own and will not rise without some kind of raising agent. You can easily make your own flours at home instead of paying 10 times more to have it pre-ground.
- As a pudding or porridge.
- As a great soft food for your toddler or kids.
What colour tastes the Best?
White quinoa is the most readily available, and can be used in any dish both sweet and savoury. It tastes creamier and cooks up fluffier than the others which is why it is best for deserts or sweet dishes, and definitely better for quinoa porridge. It is the best one to use in dishes that you would normally use rice in as its flavour will not overpower the dish, plus it will soak up other flavours and juices.
Red quinoa is hardier and can stand up to more cooking and mixing. It has a nuttier flavour, and holds its shape and texture well making it the best for complimenting salad dishes. It doesn’t seem to soak up the juices of a dish like you would want it to if you had a curry for instance, so maybe don’t use if for that purpose.
Black quinoa is similar to red and has an earthy flavour. Again, I wouldn’t use it for dishes that you would like more ‘soak’ with.
Tri colured quinoa is a mix of all 3, and I find that because it contains the white you can get away with using it as a rice substitute. Not so great in sweet dishes due to the more earthy flavours of the red and black.
How to Cook Quinoa
Cooking quinoa is just as simple as cooking any other grain or pasta – so no technical kitchen skills needed here:-
- Wash thoroughly before use to be sure to be rid of all impurities.
- Add to a pan and cover with the same amount of water again – so half and half. It tends to double in size, so bear this in mind when thinking about portions. If you prefer your quinoa on the softer side then it will two third its size.
- Add a generous pinch of salt; or even cook in stock for a better flavour.
- If you’re going to be using your quinoa for a sweet dish then just boil in water alone, OR even in some kind of nut milk for creaminess.
- Boil gently for 10-15 minutes until your liquid has absorbed; you may need to add more as you go if it is not soft enough for your liking.
My Favorite Quinoa Breakfast Recipes
I regularly make a quinoa breakfast porridge as it is such a great start to the day and you can add so many different flavours, fruits, nuts, seeds, or anything else you fancy. They all start off with the same base, so first off cook you WHITE quinoa the following way. The recipes serve 2 people so you can amend accordingly; or make up a batch and refrigerate for the next day. This way you can alternate your toppings etc to keep things fresh and to stop you getting bored:-
Cooking White Quinoa for ALL Breakfast Bowls
This method will semi cook the quinoa leaving some extra cooking times with your milk and other ingredients in the actual recipes. All based on a 2 person serving. You can use quinoa flakes too, but you will have to adjust your cooking times as per pack instructions.
- 1/2 cup of dry white quinoa
- 1 cup of water
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a sieve to get rid of all impurities.
- Add to saucepan.
- Bring to the boil.
- Simmer for 10 minutes.
- If it hasn’t soaked up all the water then drain and rinse. The aim is to not fully cook the quinoa as you want to finish off your cooking in nut milk as per the recipes below.
1. Cinnamon, Apple and Chia
This one is a comforting winter warmer, plus a fat burner! Cinnamon will help keep your blood sugar stable and also lower the GI of the whole meal; and the chia is a high fiber, nutrient dense, omega 3 seed to help set you up for the day.
- 1 Cup of pre semi cooked Quinoa
- 1 Cup of milk (soy, oat, hemp, rice, coconut or almond are all great).
- 2 Sweet apples chopped small or grated with skins.
- 1 Teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
- 1 Tablespoon of Chia seeds.
- Vanilla extract to taste.
- Maple syrup or raw honey for drizzling on top if you like it sweeter.
- Add your nut milk to the quinoa, bring to the boil, then simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Add chopped apples, cinnamon, vanilla and chia seeds and simmer for a further couple of minutes until the quinoa is the texture you require. If you prefer a runnier porridge then add more milk, if firmer then add less milk or simmer for longer.
- Drizzle with a sweetener of your choice and enjoy.
2. Summer Strawberry Coconut
This one is scrummy just for the sake of being scrummy and reminds me of my year spent in Southern Spain where strawberries where dirt cheap, tasty, and available everywhere. Back then it was strawberry porridge with traditional oats that I made for my breakfast most days, but these days I like this lower carb quinoa version too.
The coconut chips give it an added je ne sais quoi that just makes it taste summery and delightful.
- 1 Cup of pre semi cooked Quinoa.
- 1 Cup of coconut milk.
- 6-8 large chopped ripe and sweet strawberries.
- 2 teaspoons of coconut sugar. (xylitol is great for a low sugar version).
- Toasted coconut chips.
- Simmer your quinoa and coconut sugar in the milk for 5 minutes until almost ready to go.
- Add your chopped strawberries and warm through quickly – don’t over cook.
- Sprinkle with toasted coconut chips.
- Enjoy on the balcony in the morning sunshine.
3. Banana Sultana
Sultanas are not only super sweet and delicious, but they are also a proven fat burning food that are super high in anti aging antioxidants. Nutmeg is great for digestion, and is yet another powerhouse of antioxidants, so be GENEROUS with it.
- 1 Cup of pre semi cooked Quinoa.
- 1 Cup of milk of your choice.
- 1 Large very ripe banana, or 2 small, both mushed with a fork.
- Handful of sultanas.
- Cook your quinoa in nut milk for a couple of minutes. Oat milk is particularly good in this one.
- Add mushed banana, sultanas, and nutmeg to taste.
- Simmer for a few more minutes until desired texture and consistency is acquired.
- Eat on a cold winters day.
4. Double Chocolate Heaven
If you’re a chocoholic like me and need any old excuse to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner then look no further. Cacao (and dark chocolate) have so many antioxidants and health benefits that it is actually a health food, and a million miles away from the sugary candy type of stuff that most people eat.
And as the flavenols in the cacao bean and dark chocolate help sharpen your brain and boost cognitive function then what better food could you eat to set you up for the day than this chocolatey porridge?
- 1 Cup of pre semi cooked quinoa.
- 1 Cup almond milk.
- 1 Large mashed ripe banana.
- 1 Tablespoon spoon of good quality cacao powder.
- Vanilla paste or essence to taste.
- 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup or agave nectar.
- Fresh raspberries to serve.
- Few squares of grated, or roughly chopped dark chocolate to serve.
- Coconut yogurt (optional).
- Add your quinoa to cold nut milk and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes.
- Add your mashed banana, cacao powder, vanilla, and sweetener and cook until required texture is acquired. Should be a further few minutes.
- Serve and add fresh raspberries, grated chocolate, and coconut yogurt if using.
- Enjoy any time of the day.
5. Blueberry Beauty
Blueberries are PACKED full of skin boosting, anti aging antioxidants; are low GI (so good for fat burning); and can also help boost memory and brain power. Just try to keep your blueberry cooking to a minimum as not to destroy any of those wonderful nutrients.
- 1 Cup of pre semi cooked quinoa.
- 1 Cup of nut milk of choice.
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries.
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.
- Handful of chopped fresh walnuts to serve.
- Handful of fresh blueberries to serve.
- Sweetener of choice.
- Bring quinoa to the boil with the nut milk, sweetener and chia seeds and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add your fresh or frozen blueberries and heat through, mashing a few up with a fork as you go so the whole thing turns a deep purple colour.
- Serve with a sprinkling of fresh chopped walnuts and some further fresh blueberries.
Quinoa is an amazing food and well worth incorporating into your diet as much as you can. These breakfasts are just one easy way to eat this amino acid rich superfood, but feel fee to try it in these other great recipes to keep things varied.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy your quinoa porridge! Be sure to let me know how you get on, or even if you have any other suggestions for quinoa porridge as I would sure like to try them out. Please feel free to drop me a line in the comments section.
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