There’s nothing better than a cup of coffee or tea with a homemade hot breakfast. If you’re tired of the usual staples like oatmeal and cream of wheat, step into the world of breakfast quinoa — an easy, filling and healthful way to start your day.
Quinoa is commonly mistaken for a grain, when in fact it’s the seed of a crop similar to grain. Although there are more than 100 types of quinoa worldwide, U.S. grocery stores tend to stock just a few kinds — red, white, black and tricolor. When it comes to breakfast quinoa, we prefer cooking with white since it offers the most neutral flavor profile and therefore lends itself to superb customization.
An incredibly healthful food, quinoa is known as a “complete protein” because it’s one of the few foods containing all nine amino acids, according to Men's Fitness. One cup of quinoa contains about 600 calories; no cholesterol; and significant amounts of protein, fiber and iron, in addition to many other nutrients.
Quinoa seeds have a naturally bitter coating, says Bon Appétit, that needs to be rinsed off before you begin cooking. You’ll want to use a fine strainer that can hold the tiny seeds and rinse them multiple times in cold water, draining thoroughly. Pour the seeds into a pot, then add two times more of whatever liquid you want — milk, water, coconut milk and soy milk are just a few options (1 cup quinoa = 2 cups liquid).
Bring the quinoa and liquid to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The quinoa is done when most of the liquid has been absorbed and you see a white ring around the outer edges of the seeds. You can either serve the quinoa immediately or let it sit for a few minutes.
One of the best things about quinoa is how easily customizable it is. Here are a few of our favorite additions:
Vanilla coconut milk: Use a flavored coconut or almond milk during cooking and skip the sugar.
Brown sugar: Although white sugar is OK, you can’t beat brown sugar for hot breakfast foods. Just remember to use it in moderation!
Fresh fruit: Adding fresh fruit to cooked quinoa is a no-brainer. We like it best with fresh berries or apples glazed with cinnamon sugar.
Maple syrup: Pour on a dash of maple syrup for a richer sweetness.
Toasted nuts: Nuts provide an extra protein boost — we like toasted pecans and walnuts the best.
Cinnamon: Sprinkle on some cinnamon to create a sweet-savory sensation.
Dried fruit: No fresh fruit on hand? Thrown in a handful of dried cranberries, cherries or whatever else you have around.