Quinoa and chia seed breakfast bowl

quinoa-chia-breakfast-bowl

This recipe makes a delicious, versatile breakfast that can be enjoyed chilled in summer or warm in winter. It’s wonderfully portable so can be made in advance and will keep in the fridge for several days. Top with your favourite nuts, fruit and seeds and mix with coconut or almond milk.

I’ve included oats in this recipe but if you’re gluten free you can simply substitute with more quinoa and chia seeds. If using oats I suggest you soak them separately over night (this helps neutralise the phytic acid which can be hard for the body to digest), however if you’re short on time just mix everything together an hour in advance and you’ll be ready to go.

Health Benefits

A staple food in Central and South America, quinoa is a gluten-free grain revered for its health benefits. It’s rich in minerals and antioxidants and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which is thought to lower the risk of cancer. Quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids and is therefore considered a whole protein, making it an excellent choice for vegetarians.

Considered a superfood by many, chia seeds are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, high in fibre, minerals and antioxidants and make an excellent inclusion in the diet.

Oats are high in beta-glucan fibre which is said to lower the risk of bad cholesterol in the body. They also contain unique antioxidants which have been linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Throw in some nuts and berries and this breakfast bowl is teaming with a range of nutrients that will help you power through the morning.

Ingredients

  • 50g/1.75oz cooked quinoa (I like to soak my quinoa before cooking and then freeze in batches – you can use pre-cooked quinoa straight from the freezer in this recipe)
  • 20g / 0.7oz / 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 20g oats / 0.7oz (optional – you can substitute with an extra 10g of chia seeds and 10g of quinoa)
  • 250ml /8.5 fl oz drinking coconut milk (I like Coco Quench) or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or natural vanilla essence
  • half a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 large ripe banana

Toppings of your choice

  • 30g chopped mixed nuts (I like almonds and hazelnuts)
  • Mixed berries or other fruit in season

Method

As noted above, steps 1 and 2 below are optional. If short on time simply add all the ingredients listed in steps 1 and 2 together and chill for an hour then move to step 4.

  1. If using oats, cover them in filtered water (room temperature) and allow to soak overnight, ideally for 12 hours
  2. Place the quinoa, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg in a bowl and cover with the coconut or almond milk – leave to soak overnight in the fridge
  3. Drain the oats, rinse and add to the quinoa mix
  4. Mash two thirds of the banana into the quinoa mixture (leave the rest to garnish) – your breakfast bowl is ready
  5. If you prefer a warm breakfast, place the mixture in a saucepan over a low heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes until warmed through (you may wish to add a little extra milk)
  6. Serve topped with the reserved banana, nuts and berries or other fruit in season

Serves 2

quinoa-chia-breakfast-bowl2

Simple sugar-free Thai salad

thai-salad

If you love Thai salads but prefer not to use processed sugar, this recipe is a great option that doesn’t compromise on taste. The dressing is made with rice malt syrup which is fructose free, and if you choose a high quality fish sauce – naturally fermented and without sugar – you can’t go wrong.

For the salad itself, I’ve suggested ingredients that work well for me but play around with whatever you like and what’s on hand at home.

Dressing

  • Juice of 1 lime (around 3 tablespoons)
  • 1.5 tablespoons fish sauce (choose a good quality, unsweetened variety – Red Boat 40°N from Vietnam is wonderful if you can find it)
  • 1.5 tablespoons rice malt syrup

Place ingredients into a small jar, seal and shake well. Set aside.

Salad

  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 medium size carrot
  • 6 snow peas
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • 4 medium sized button mushrooms
  • handful coriander leaves
  • handful mint leaves
  • half a cup of cashews

Method

Peel and julienne the carrots (cut lengthways into sticks that are around the size and thickness of two matchsticks put together). Similarly, cut the cucumber lengthways into pieces a little bigger than the carrots. Peel and chop the mushrooms and add to a salad bowl with the other vegetables and beansprouts. Tear the mint and coriander leaves and add to the vegetables then stir through the dressing (you’ll only need a third to a half – the rest will keep in the fridge for several weeks). Just before serving, sprinkle with the cashew nuts.

This salad is lovely topped with garlic prawns or with some poached or roast chicken.

Serves 2