Nourishing quinoa breakfast bowls -prepared with soaked grains, garnished with fresh fruit, drizzled with honey and cream, and dusted with cinnamon.
Move Over Oatmeal…I Have a New Love
Quinoa Breakfast Bowls are now my favorite breakfast comfort food. It’s funny how families do different things and what seems normal for one can be absurd to another. I think because we moved around so often and had the influence of so many beautiful kinds of people and cultures, we were able to experience so many different kinds of foods and ways of preparing them.
I grew up on oatmeal, cream of wheat, and Wheatina for breakfast. Hot cereal for breakfast is just so warm and comforting. In fact, to be honest, there are nights when we serve hot cereal for dinner at our home because there are just some days when cooking is the last thing on your mind. My go-to has always been oatmeal. It’s cheap, easy, and loaded with goodness, especially when soaked. I think I may have burnt my family out on oatmeal though.
My good friend Shirley introduced me to the idea of other grains for breakfast. She invited our family over one morning for a warm bowl of millet. It was delicious. She taught me all about soaking and how there were more things than honey or brown sugar to top your hot cereal with.
Quinoa for Breakfast?
I will never forget when my cousin and her family traveled in their RV to visit us when we lived in New Jersey. Her and her husband and their three boys stayed out in their camper while we enJOYed a wonderful four-day visit. One morning, I had prepared quinoa breakfast bowls for my family. Their youngest wandered into the kitchen and took one look at the stove. To his horror, we were having quinoa…for breakfast. To him, quinoa was a dinner side. As quick as he came in, he was out and not having anything to do with his crazy aunt’s silly breakfast bowl. His loss but my morning giggle.
Benefits of Quinoa
Quinoa is higher in protein and dietary fiber than many other grains. Technically, it is a seed and not a grain. It is loaded with B vitamins, minerals, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant compounds, gluten-free, and so delicious. Additionally, it is such a versatile grain and can be prepared in a savory way for a dinner side, or topped with fruit and honey for breakfast. It also makes a mean plant-based taco meat substitute. Quinoa breakfast bowls are our families favorite Sunday breakfast.
Soaking Grains for Better Digestion and Nutrient Absorption
Grains and legumes are not easily digested. They contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that will need a neutralizer in order to break down the complex proteins and sugars before cooking. Phytic acid is a plant’s natural protection against predators. Although it is great for plants, it blocks nutrient absorption in humans. Pre-soaking also unlocks nutrients and makes them more available to the body. Think of it like a predigesting of your food so that nutrients can easily be absorbed and assimilated into the body. The less strain food has on the body, the more easily digestion occurs. Health is all about the digestion.
Below is a list of common neutralizes you can use with grains and legumes. If you are interested in learning more about how to properly prepare whole grains and legumes, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing this Preparing Whole Grains & Legumes chart. I have had this chart on the side of my refrigerator for over 10 years. It has been a highly useful tool in my kitchen.
- whole milk yogurt
- lemon juice
- apple cider vinegar
Note: When using one of the dairy options above, you will also get the added benefit of lactobacilli, a probiotic, which will also help digest complex proteins and sugars.
Make Way for Whey (What is it and how to I prepare it?)
Whey is the liquid remaining after milk is curdled and cultured. You have probably seen this liquid form at the top of your yogurt after scooping some out. To separate the whey from yogurt, I use a Greek yogurt maker. This is the super easy cheaters method. Sorry, I love useful kitchen gadgets that multiply my time. I also prefer to eat a thicker yogurt.
To prepare, I purchase regular plain yogurt, dump it in my Greek yogurt maker filter basket, and let gravity work for me in only a few hours. One quart of plain grass-fed yogurt produces about 1/2 cup of whey. I also use whey in my Beet Kvass recipe if you are looking for another way to use whey (sorry I couldn’t help myself). You can watch a YouTube video from The Healthy Home Economist on how to separate whey from store-bought yogurt here if you don’t have a Greek yogurt maker.
Recipe for Quinoa Breakfast Bowls
Soaking quinoa the night before
- 1 cup quinoa (if using sprouted quinoa you do not need to soak it. You can skip this step).
- 1 T activator (see list above. I use whey)
- enough warm filtered water to cover by 1 inch
- cover with a Flour Sack Towel for 8-12 hours and place on the counter
In the Morning
Drain and rinse the quinoa until the water drains clear. To your rinsed and drained quinoa, add 1 1/2 cups water. Obviously, soaked quinoa already contains some water. If you are using sprouted, dry quinoa in the morning you will need 1 3/4 cups liquid.
Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, scrape off any bubble scum (for lack of a better phrase). You want to remove this, like you would in soup, because it is just leftover residue from the soaking process and may present an off flavor.
After all the bubble scum (lol, I kinda like that phrase) is removed, add 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional, but totally yummializes it, as my son says).
Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to set for at least 10 minutes, uncovered, to get extra fluffy.
This recipe technically serves 8 with a 1/4 cup serving per person. I don’t know anyone who eats a 1/4 cup serving of anything. For a family my size, I start with 3 cups quinoa and if we have leftovers, brilliant!
Toppings for Quinoa Breakfast Bowls
- fresh berries
- chopped toasted almonds
- sliced bananas
- drizzled honey
- cinnamon dusting
- maple syrup
- sautéd apples and cinnamon
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Flour Sack Towels– These are my favorite multi-purpose towels. They actually absorb water when you go to dry off your hands or dry the dishes.