This combination of juicy fresh fruit, sweet dried fruit and a hint of spice was my food flask breakfast for a very early train journey a few weeks back, inspired by a leftover bowl of quinoa. Porridge (possibly more commonly known as oatmeal?) is my regular nutritious winter breakfast in many, many different guises, but quinoa makes a very pleasant change from oats. Quinoa, it turns out, is also a much more forgiving grain to prepare in the morning rush. Povided that you cook a little extra earlier in the week, this essentially just entails reheating; there’s no need to wait for that magic moment when those “oats floating in milk” magically elasticise into real, gooey porridge. Plus like porridge, this breakfast is really, really filling stuff, most likely because of the low glycaemic index of the grain which means that it keeps your blood glucose levels on an even keel well into the morning.
The mix of fresh and dried fruit covers water-soluble vitamins (particularly vitamin C), minerals and fibre all in one. Porridge and quinoa are nutritionally similar in many ways; both are wholegrains and both low GI provided that you choose the right sort of oats. Quinoa has a GI of 51 (classified as low), old-fashioned rolled oats 42 (also low) while instant porridge is 82 (high GI). Other nutritional aspects are more of a trade-off; porridge has its cholesterol-busting soluble fibre, while quinoa is higher in protein.
The quinoa can be soaked in the milk overnight but don’t worry about that too much – this dish still works fine made just before eating. If you’re wondering why I’m suggesting adding honey to something that already contains naturally sweet dried fruit and clementines, the reality is that quinoa often has a very distinctive earthy note to it (the kind of flavour a wine buff would describe as a tad vegetal). A little drizzle of honey among all of these other healthy ingredients is not going to cause any lasting damage but if you use a sweetened milk like certain soy milks then you might not need it.
Credit for this post goes to fabulous and thoughful dietitian Elaine of Greens and Berries for prompting me to blog about it after she caught me rambling from the train about my breakfast habits on Twitter. She was right to get me to write the combination down. This way I will remember it when the clementine season comes around next year. There’s something about this one that is more than the sum of it’s parts (I suspect it’s the way that the milk soaks into the clementines making them super juicy).
Recipe for Quinoa with clementines, sour cherries and pecans
If you can get it, red quinoa would look fantastic with the clementines and cherries.
For 2 people
1 cup leftover cooked quinoa
1 cup of your milk of choice
1 tbsp dried cherries
1 tbsp pecans
2 clementines, broken into segments
A good pinch of cinnamon
Honey to taste
Ideally, soak the quinoa and milk together overnight.
When ready to eat, heat the quinoa and milk either in the microwave or in a pan on the hob until hot.
Crumble the pecans roughly into chunks and add to the hot grains and milk. Next add the dried cherries and clementines and a good pinch of cinnamon.
Taste. Add more cinnamon and a little honey and taste again. Eat.