This is one of my favourite breakfasts to cook when I have the pleasure of being able to make a leisurely start to my day. It takes about the same time as to make a bowl of traditional oat porridge but has the benefit of being higher in protein and gluten free.
Quinoa is actually a seed that masquerades as a grain. It is unique because unlike many other vegetarian protein sources, it is high in lysine, an essential amino acid. Originating in South America, quinoa is a Chenopod and is closely related to beets, silverbeet and tumbleweeds. It was an extremely important crop in the pre-Columbian Andes civilizations – thought to be second in importance behind the humble potato, but more important than the much-celebrated corn (maize).
In its natural state quinoa has a coating of bitter tasting saponins on the outside. Most commercially available quinoa these days has been pre-rinsed to get rid of these natural compounds. However, I still rinse quinoa quickly prior to cooking to ensure this coating has been removed completely.
When cooked, the germ comes away from the seed and it tastes slightly nutty. When I first cooked it for my husband, he told me that he thought it looked like spider eggs! You want the seed to retain some bite – overcooking will turn it to mush. As well as being a good source of protein and gluten free (perfect of Coeliacs), it also is rich in magnesium, dietary fibre, phosphorous and iron. To top it off – quinoa is easily digested making it a great option for sensitive tummies. It comes in white, red and brown varieties and even as a multicolour mixture.
If quinoa porridge is not your thing, then there are still plenty of ways that you can enjoy this versatile grain. It can be used in savoury dishes in place of rice or cous cous, instead of boughal in tabbouli, as a stuffing for roast chook. This recipe is a winner though – a great way to start playing with quinoa.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days and can even be frozen before being reheated.
Quinoa Breakfast Porridge
Time to prepare: 30-35 minutes
1 cup quinoa
2 cups low fat milk or soy milk (or water for lower kcals)
1/3 cup currants
1 tb honey (mild)
1 cup berries (fresh or defrosted from frozen)
½-1 cup low fat natural yoghurt, to serve
½ cup slivered almonds or natural pistachios, to serve
Low fat milk or soy milk, extra, to serve
- Place the quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse well under cold running water
- Tip quinoa into a saucepan over moderate-high heat and add the milk (or water)
- Bring to the boil, immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so that the milk doesn’t catch on the bottom of the saucepan
- Add currants and simmer for 10 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is no longer crunchy. The quinoa is cooked when the germ comes away from the seed
- Remove from the heat and stir in the honey
- Serve porridge in four small bowls. Top with dollop of yoghurt, ¼ cup berries and a sprinkle of chopped almonds or natural pistachios. Serve milk (warm or cold) on the side, if desired