Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl


The boys start school on Monday.

I know.  

Seems cruel and unusual to me too.

And yet, they feel good about it, so who am I to say.

My eldest says he likes being in school with his friends when the weather is still so nice ~ (like it turns dramatically here in CA - wink) ~ everyone is full of energy and good spirits and there is a ball to kick or throw at every break. Even though they don't live far apart, plans don't seem to get made quite as often during the summer break so school remains the great joinder.  

We squeezed in all the mandatory pre-school appointments in the earlier part of the week ~ the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker ~ and this morning I dropped my youngest off at his High School orientation. Yup, two boys in high school now. I'll admit I lingered a bit longer than I needed to. Catching those last glimpses of boyhood before it all changes, again.

So here I sit in a new home surrounded by boxes and to-do lists and yet, a warm cup of tea and this quiet space seems just about right. 

These last few weeks have swooshed by in a blur and I'm feeling grateful for the pause.

~~~~~~~~~

Today I'm talking about breakfast and sharing some of my favorite ways to start the day. 

I am often asked in my nutrition practice what the ideal breakfast is and my answer is always the same: it depends. And it does.  Age, stage, level of activity, work/sleep schedules, response to food, goals and objectives.  In short, while there are certainly guiding principles, there is no one size accommodates all when it comes to nutrition. 

We are all biochemically unique and each of us has the ability and responsibility, in my view, to experiment and learn what works best for us.  

For myself, the composition and ratio of micronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate) will vary depending on whether I am preparing for work (sedentary) or exercise.  It may also vary with the seasons as my digestive vitality and food preferences are not the same in the grueling heat as they are in cooler temperatures.  

Prior to exercise, I prefer easily and quickly digesting food sources such as whole grain oatmeal with ground seeds, a few pieces of sliced banana and milk.  A nourishing and easily digested meal that provides me with just the right amount of energy I need to have a productive workout session.  If I eat this type of breakfast sometime around 7:30 am and workout sometime around 9:00 am, I am usually looking for a more concentrated protein source by 10:30 - 11:00 am. 

On the days when I am not working out in the morning, I might opt for a more substantive breakfast with greater staying power (satiety) such as this nourishing breakfast bowl which contains a variety of food elements in more concentrated forms.  A simple and delicious meal bowl made up of protein (found in the eggs, nuts, cheese and quinoa), fat (found in the avocado, nuts and cheese) and carbohydrate (found in the quinoa and sprouts) complete with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Although packed with goodness, this quinoa breakfast bowl is easy on the system and does not leave me feeling bloated, tired and grumpy the way more popular breakfast assortments of the carbohydrate family can (ie: toast, pancakes, waffles, muffins, sugary cereals, etc) ~ pretty much the opposite of how you want to feel starting out the day.

Be sure to have a look at the Nutriton & Cooking Notes I prepared for more information on the role of protein, fat and carbohydrates in the body as well as nourishing food sources of these macronutrients.

Enjoy experimenting with different combinations and remember, nobody ever said you couldn't eat lentils or steak for breakfast. Do what works for you!



Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl (Gluten Free)

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
  • 2 gently boiled eggs, or cooked however you wish.
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup or more fresh sprouts of choice (I used clover)
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • small handful nuts of choice (I used almond)
  • 1 ounce feta cheese
  • seasonings as desired

Serves 1

Nutrition & Cooking Notes:
  1. Make Ahead: If you prepare your quinoa and eggs the night before, this breakfast comes together in a snap!
  2. Not Just for Breakfast: Although we're talking about breakfast today, this lovely meal bowl would be suitable any time of day.
  3. Break-Fast: After prolonged sleep, breaking our fast (break-fast) helps kick start metabolism and promote mental acuity providing us with the necessary fuel to start our day.
  4. Lack of Time or Appetite: If lack of time or appetite is a factor, start small and bring something quick and easy to work: a wedge of cheese; a handful of nuts; a hard-boiled egg (you can prepare ahead of time and store in fridge); plain yogurt with a drizzle of honey; almond butter on sliced apple or cucumber. It doesn't have to be big or complicated. Start small and build over time.
  5. The role of Protein/Carbohydrates/FatsProtein, the basis of all structural components in the body, tops the list for satiety. Protein requires more work for our bodies to break down than carbohydrates, keeping us feeling fuller longer and preventing jags in insulin levels. The regulation of blood sugar can also help stabilize mood and energy levels. Most neurotransmitters (the brain's communication channels) are made of protein which is critical for mood, alertness and concentration. Carbohydrates are the body's number one source of energy however most of us continue to over-consume carbohydrates relative to our protein intake and activity levels.  The trick is to consume carbohydrates in proportion to our actual energy requirements and to focus on nourishing sources ~ those that offer high fibre relative to their sugar release (low glycemic) ~ options below.  Fabulous Fats often maligned and feared, fat is needed for the absorption of vitamins, the proper functioning of sex hormones, the insulation of our vital organs and the protection of cell membranes including our brain.
  6. Key Sources of Protein/Carbohydrates/Fats: Carbohydrate Sources: complex grains (quinoa, kamut, millet, teff, buckwheat, oats, amaranth, etc.); fruits + vegetables.  Mixed Sources: lentils/legumes (combination carbohydrate/protein). Protein Sources: animal meats; fish; eggs, soy proteins: tempeh, tofu, vegetarian wheat/gluten: seitan. Mixed Sources:  nuts/seeds (combination fat/protein), yogurt and cheese (combination fat/protein). Fat & Oil Sources: avocado, coconut, olive.


Directions:

  1. Note: you can prepare quinoa the night before and simply store in fridge.
  2. Cook quinoa (generally 2:1 ratio water to quinoa) and eggs (boil for 4 to 5 minutes for a yolk that is still runny, 6 to 7 minutes for a yolk that is barely set and 8 to 9 minutes for a firm set egg).
  3. Allow quinoa to cool somewhat while you assemble the remaining ingredients.
  4. Add cooked quinoa to the base of the bowl.  I sometimes mix in a little bit of coconut oil or butter with the warm quinoa and add a sprinkle of herbs (I especially like rosemary) and sea salt/ground pepper.
  5. Add remaining ingredients in a layered or circular fashion as desired -- eggs, avocado, nuts, feta cheese and sprouts. 
  6. For the sprouts, I sometimes add a splash of apple cider vinegar but more often than not I just leave them naked -- there is plenty of flavor coming from the other ingredients including the savory feta and seasoned quinoa.
  7. I hope you love this simple meal bowl as much as I do!
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Fine.  I confess.  I often add massaged kale (and you'll like it too!)


20 comments:

  1. Sandra @ Kitchen ApparelAugust 14, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    hehehe! Yeah, watch out for that variable weather. Wink! I can't believe you will now have two boys in high school. It is so sad to think of them leaving, but I must say I envy you a bit. Wink Wink!!! I've been paying much greater attention to breakfast lately since I started jogging. I often skipped breakfast all together but now I need something way more substantial. This breakfast bowl sounds perfect! And I'll even trust you on the massaged kale part :) xxx

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  2. "i am often asked in my nutrition practice what the ideal breakfast is and my answer is always the same: it depends. And it does. Age, stage, level of activity, work/sleep schedules, response to food, goals and objectives. In short, while there are certainly guiding principles, there is no one size accommodates all when it comes to nutrition." such good sound advice kelly. funny that we rarely hear nutritionists say this. happy nesting in your new home. hope you share some pics.

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  3. I know, it's really hard to be content where we are. I remember pulling my hair out on more than one occasion let's just say when the boys were young and craving the smallest pieces of time and sanity for myself. Now, I walk around the neighborhood dropping tears every time I hear the soft sweet voice of a young boy calling out for his mom (I'm like the resident creepy woman). As I type this more tears are flowing but I said to my husband the other morning, I would do anything to have one more day with my "little boys" again... in short, as hard as it is, savor, savor, savor, for the moment is soon gone.

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  4. Sandra @ Kitchen ApparelAugust 14, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    awww..now you're making me cry! hugs xxxx

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  5. So delicious and packed with goodness...and it is good for any meal, Kelly.

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  6. thank you Suzanne, xx -- I'll put together some kitchen reno before and afters to share soon -- nothing spectacular (pretty humble changes) but still fun to see.

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  7. you're so right Angie ~ in fact I meant to mention that in the post; good for any meal indeed!

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  8. Gorgeous Kelly! And, like Suzanne, I find your approach so sensible and refreshing. It frustrates me to be handed hard and fast rules as though they contained all the answers for everyone. I've been keeping a food journal lately and I'm amazed to discover so many new things about myself (I thought I knew how I ate!). Your recipes may be simple but you have a way of elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary. Just love this recipe idea.

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  9. Love your idea of healthy bowl which gives super power for all exhausting day. But this salad is also great option after some exercises. Quinoa is amazing sources of all amino acids which are really important after hard workout. It also contains many minerals. If you need more detailed information, check out http://happyforks.com/quinoa/cooked/6247 or try Our Recipe Analyzer to get some nutritional information about this recipe

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  10. "Catching
    those last glimpses of boyhood before it all changes, again." Beautiful
    Kelly... and so true, things change so quickly with our kids and it's difficult to grasp
    sometimes not to mention heartbreaking (I understand the tears). How great that your boys are keen for the return to class.


    This has
    to be the prettiest and healthiest breakfast bowl I have ever seen! I
    love that you are offering alternatives to the all consuming "bread" food group ;-) I think we
    could all use some inspiration on that front. The amazing thing too is that this is so delicious looking - you didn't just capture the nourishing part, you captured the yum part! :). Thank you for all the information in the nutrition notes too - I always benefit from your write-ups.

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  11. I was always like your son that is looking forward to school starting. By the first of August I was bored and couldn't wait for school to start. Of course back then, it always started the Tuesday after Labor Day. I can't believe school is already starting! Clover sprouts? Where do you find clover sprouts? Do you sprout them yourself? I love adding sprouts to dishes and use to sprout seeds at home. Need to start doing that again. Quinoa for breakfast is unusual but it makes sense with the protein. I don't get enough protein for breakfast so thank you for this hearty bowl of goodness! Because I don't eat breakfast until around 10, its doable; otherwise, too much work for the morning. :)

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  12. Libby with Lemony ThymeAugust 15, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    I could eat this breakfast bowl every single day. It's filled with all my favorites. Thank you for inspiring.

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  13. We are surrounded by clover sprouts here in the markets and stores -- I had not seen them either until we moved to this part of the world but apparently they're quite common; second only to alfalfa. Would love to start sprouting my own (after the lime tree goes in of course - priorities ;-).


    I'm glad you mentioned the time factor on the breakfast bowl! If you cook your quinoa and eggs the day/night before it's actually a snap to pull together! I find quinoa a bit like beans now -- I make a double batch and store in fridge for future use. Can't go wrong :)

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  14. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and my facebook page Libby -- I loved your idea of marketing this breakfast bowl more broadly :) :) :)

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  15. Heeheeh, I think my son's grade 4 class used to refer to the food groups as ooey, gooey, crunchy and munchy :) I'm glad you like this recipe Elizabeth and I'm so pleased to hear that the nutrition information is useful to you as well - even if one person is benefiting, it's worthwhile so yay!! ☆

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  16. thanks Clare! I'm a big proponent of individuality ;-) I really feel that everyone has to travel their own journey and figure it out in their own time and in their own way. I appreciate your kind words, xx.

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  17. I would eat this for lunch and dinner, too.

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  18. I'd be happy with this for lunch or dinner! I can't believe school is starting already, I think the kids here go back after the September long weekend.
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com

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  19. Sissi_Withaglass.comAugust 17, 2014 at 5:44 AM

    What a beautiful sunny bowl, Kelly! Avocado and egg are a perfect choice for any time of the day (in my case), though I wouldn't be able even to look at any food until about two hours after my morning coffee... Thank you for all the nutrition tips. It's true we are all different and have different needs for breakfast. My favourite in the summer are two slices of crunchy "diet" bread with goat cheese and dried tomatoes on top and that's it... In the winter it's richly packed with proteins miso soup... In France people usually have sweet breakfast, but I could easily have several croissants with jam and still dream of a savoury snack ;-) (The French are among the healthiest and slimmest in the developped world, so it must work for them... as you say, everyone is different... very few nutritionists are so open minded!). Good luck with unpacking! It must be so exciting to arrange everything in the new house...

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  20. Emilie@TheCleverCarrotAugust 17, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    Mmm... I could definitely get into something like this for breakfast- the colors alone have me swooning. How can you go wrong with quinoa, avo & egg? Love that combination. A little miso dressing over this delight, and I'd eat it again for lunch ;)
    I can't believe that you have 2 boys in HS now. Where does the time go? That's such a cliche saying, I know, but so true...
    I hope you are enjoying the quiet time in your new house, making it your own... I am SO happy for you. xx

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Thank you for your feedback - it's wonderful to hear from you!