Sunday, July 26, 2015

Warm winter quinoa porridge - my favourite morning recipes.


Quinoa porridge with currants, cinnamon, strawberries and maple syrup.
The winter has been cold and I've been cooking porridge for breakfast most mornings and thought I'd share with you some of my tips. Most of us know how to make porridge from oats, but I can't eat oats, so my experiment this winter has been with quinoa. And what a successful experiment it has been!

Are you a quinoa fan? Quinoa looks like a grain but its actually a seed and comes from a relative of the spinach plant, and what a tasty and versatile seed it can be. Cooked by itself it has a mild nutty flavour, but will rapidly absorb whatever flavours you cook it with. You can use it plain in place of rice or cous cous, or cook it flaked like oats. It's gluten free, low GI (it has a glycaemic index of 53) and is high in protein. What's not to love? (for more on quinoa click here --> Notes on quinoa

First decision you need to make is if you would like to make your porridge with whole grain quinoa or with quinoa flakes. Flakes will give you a creamy porridge very similar to oats, and are much quicker to prepare and cook. They are, however, a bit less versatile. Whole quinoa seeds take longer and give you a chewier nuttier texture, but the one bag of quinoa can be used for all manner of things, from salads to risottos. I tend to mix it up a bit from day to day, so I'll give you the instructions for both.
Clockwise from top: quinoa seeds, chia seeds, currants, quinoa flakes, pepitas
(shredded coconut in the middle and bananas and strawberries of course!)

Creamy porridge with quinoa flakes
This is my rapid everyday porridge and gives you a creamy finish.
Ingredients:


  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1 cup milk of your choice (I use dairy but rice, soy, almond milk would work fine too, you could also cook in water if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsps something to sweeten - I use honey or maple syrup, but you could use brown sugar, stevia or anything else
  • small handful of currants (optional)
Method:
  • Put 1 cup milk in a heavy based pot on low heat. Add vanilla essence. Bring to simmer.
  • As soon as it is simmering turn heat down and add quinoa flakes, cinnamon and currants. Stir on low heat for 2-5 minutes until milk is absorbed and creamy texture is achieved. This doesn't take long so don't walk away!
  • Serve with a drizzle of your favourite sweetener, fruit, nuts or whatever toppings. 
Optional extras:
Peanut butter, banana and honey quinoa porridge. Heavenly!
  • I've already mentioned the currants - I love adding them in with the cooking porridge and they add a bit of caramel sweetness to the porridge, like a surprise!
  • I also enjoy chia seeds, which are packed with fibre and omega 3 fatty acids, I usually stir a tablespoon through at the end for crunch.
  • My standard go-to toppings are fresh strawberries or blueberries, a tiny sprinkle of shredded coconut, flaked almonds and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Frozen berries would also work fine as would any poached fruit.
  • You can try grating apple into your porridge and adding a little more cinnamon, some maple syrup and crushed walnuts to taste like an apple strudel!
  • If you're feeling like a tasty comforting treat try adding a spoonful of peanut or almond butter at the end of cooking to melt into your porridge, and top with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey. Just amazing!


Chewy porridge with whole quinoa
If you have a little more time, only have some whole quinoa seeds handy or prefer your porridge more chewy and less creamy then here's an option for you. I like it both ways and tend to mix it up a bit - strictly speaking this is not really like oats porridge at all, but hey, it tastes good too! Whole quinoa takes around 20 minutes so if I'm making it this way I tend to get it cooking the night before while I'm cleaning the kitchen after dinner, then pop it in the fridge ready for the morning.


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (white quinoa is the quickest to cook and mildest in flavour, I tend to use a mixture of white red and black just for colour and a bit more taste!)
  • 1 cup milk of your choice (I use dairy but rice, soy, almond milk would work fine too, you could also cook in water if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsps something to sweeten - I use honey or maple syrup, but you could use brown sugar, stevia or anything else to taste
  • Nutty chewy whole quinoa is another choice for breakfast
  • small handful of currants (optional)

Method:
  • Wash your quinoa seeds well in a fine sieve under running water (quinoa has a natural coating called saponins to protect it and this can taste bitter. Many commercial supplies have been pre-washed, but if you're not sure, spending 5 minutes to rinse it is well worth the time). 
  • Put 1 cup milk in a heavy based pot on low heat. Add vanilla essence. Bring to simmer. 
  • As soon as it is simmering turn heat down and add quinoa, cinnamon and currants.
  • Cook slowly in a covered pot on low heat for 15-20 minutes or so until milk is absorbed and quinoa is chewy but not hard. Check it regularly so it doesn't burn on the bottom
  • Once it's cooked I keep it in a container in the fridge, and when ready to serve in the morning add a splash of milk and give it 60 seconds on high in the microwave for steaming porridge!


Optional extras:

Blueberries, chia seeds, a sprinkle of coconut and walnuts! 
  • Just like with the flakes, I often add currants - I love adding them in with the cooking porridge and they add a bit of caramel sweetness to the porridge, like a surprise!
  •  My standard go-to toppings are fresh strawberries or blueberries, a tiny sprinkle of shredded coconut, and I often add crushed walnuts - another tasty source of omega 3 fatty acids and the flavour mixes well. 
  •  If you feel like something a tad more exotic, add cinnamon, star anise and some cardamon seeds as the quinoa is cooking and serve with yoghurt and a drizzle of honey. Tastes like a chai latte! 


If you need any better reason to consider cooking breakfast, have a read of my blog post on the beauty of breakfast here, and for another tasty option you might like to try cooking up some of my mini-breakfast frittatas (great for lunchboxes too!) or mix your own muesli. 

However you decide to make it, I hope you enjoy your lovely winter quinoa. Share with me here or on Facebook any other flavour ideas you may have!

Bon appetit!








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