Your mom was right: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Especially if you’re up before the crack of dawn and have some heavy mileage (be it actual or metaphorical) to cover later.
I’ve recently become an early bird, thanks to dogs who like to cuddle at 5am and 5Ks that begin before the sun has fully risen. It’s a pleasantly strange departure from my old nocturnal habits (ingrained in my DNA, nurtured by generations of night owls and vital to a late-night derby schedule). As much as I loved late (and sometimes large) dinners after derby practice, I always felt sluggish in the morning – not very hungry, sometimes even a bit nauseated at the mention of food. I assumed I just wasn’t a breakfast person.
Then I started front-loading my day – eating more of my daily calories in the morning than in the evening. My metabolism has perked up again and I have a lot more energy, which makes me more productive in general and enhances that Energizer Bunny-esque charm that people either love or loathe (it’s okay to feel both). I’m not ravenous in the evening when I eat well for breakfast and lunch, so I don’t eat everything in the house before passing out. Oh, and I sleep better on a less-full stomach. Victories abound.
So I may be a morning person and even a breakfast person now, but I still can’t handle anything greasy or sweet upon rising. I need something simple, nourishing and toeing the line between sweet and savory. Easily digestible carbs and very lean protein are what I generally aim for in breakfast recipes, like the Savory Oatmeal I’ve been making a lot lately (I could write an entire cookbook chapter on savory oat risotto recipes. I love it that much). I was craving Breakfast Quinoa this morning though, so I made a big batch to portion out for the week.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love quinoa. It’s really easy to make, it’s versatile and it keeps well in the fridge. I’m also pretty crazy about roasted sweet potatoes, so I combined the two for this recipe and added a maple yogurt drizzle to make it faaaaaancy.
Enough with the rambling, pink lady. They just Googled for a quinoa recipe, not your life story. Speaking of recipes, this one makes 4 reasonable servings or 2 “I just ran 8 miles so SHUT UP” servings. It takes about 20 minutes to make.
Breakfast Quinoa with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained (I like rainbow quinoa, for obvious reasons)
1 cup water
1 cup milk of your choice (I used almond) *
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste – I don’t know your life, man, you season how you like)
1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized cubes
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
* you can omit the milk and increase the water to equal two cups if you like – milk makes the quinoa creamier but isn’t crucial for good texture/flavor
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On a baking sheet (metal or foil-lined will give your taters crisper edges), toss cubed potatoes in coconut oil to coat. Roast in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until tender (obviously, smaller pieces will roast faster, and you’ll want to check them frequently and give them a flip/shake halfway through to make sure they’re getting evenly browned).
While the potatoes roast, bring water and milk* to a boil. Add quinoa, stir and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice if you’re feeling festive) and remove from heat and let stand uncovered for a few minutes to thicken a bit more before fluffing with a fork.
To serve, spoon quinoa into a bowl and top with a portion of sweet potatoes. You can make it fancier with a teaspoon or two of chopped pecans, or try a yogurt drizzle. I was using Brown Cow Maple Yogurt on mine, but found that this homemade version is even nicer:
Maple Yogurt Drizzle (single serving)
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Dash of vanilla extract
Whisk all 3 ingredients together with a fork and drizzle over the top of your potatoes. Simple, delicious and just the right amount of creamy sweetness to make a virtuous breakfast taste indulgent.
Please try this recipe and let me know what you think! I welcome feedback.