Saturday, July 26, 2014

Start your day the Quinoa way!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet millions of people skip it. While I sort of understand why some skip it, you really shouldn't. Breakfast helps "wake up" your metabolism after fasting all night. It helps prevent you from overeating later in the day. It also gives your body the fuel it needs to function; without it, your body uses its own muscle for fuel and you don't want that. Whatever your reason for skipping is, this quinoa breakfast cereal is sure to change that. It's packed with protein, fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals and will keep you feeling full for hours. What's more is that it's a great recovery meal after a long run. Timing of your recovery meals is important if you want to make sure your body is recovering as best as possible after a long, hard workout. Right after your run, you need to focus more on simple, easily digestible carbs and a small amount of protein to promote replenishment of your energy stores and begin to rebuild muscle. But an hour to 2 hours after your long workout, you need more complex carbohydrates and protein to continue the process. Quinoa is a whole grain, making it a great complex carbohydrate. What is even better about quinoa is its protein content. One cup of cooked quinoa has 8g of protein! Coupled with the dried fruit and nuts, you are getting all the macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) and microminerals/micronutrients (potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, iron, etc....the list is endless) you need to rebuild and get stronger. Because of the complex carbs and protein, I don't recommend this for a pre-workout meal, as it can cause some stomach distress during your workout.

This recipe makes a huge batch of quinoa that you can store in the fridge for the week, making grabbing breakfast each morning quick and easy. Just top with your favorite dried fruits and nuts and you're good to go. And this meal is gluten-free and vegan!

Quinoa Breakfast/Recovery Cereal

2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 cup dried quinoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp 100% pure maple syrup

This will make about 4 cups cooked quinoa. For your meal serving size, aim for about 1/2-1 cup quinoa, plus toppings.

Toppings

1/8 cup dried fruit (I use dried raisins, cranberries, blueberries and cherries)
1/8 cup raw walnuts

Because you can store the remaining quinoa in the fridge, I recommend adding your toppings as needed. This way you can change things up, making yourself a different meal each time. This is an example of the amounts of toppings per serving. You can also top with chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh berries, bananas and more. Really, the choices are endless!

Place the milk and quinoa into a medium pot. Stir the quinoa into the milk. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. You need to watch as the milk can boil over if you don't turn down the heat quickly after it comes to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add cinnamon and syrup. The syrup is just for a little sweetness, so it's completely optional. Remove the cover and continue simmering for an additional 5 minutes, until all the milk is absorbed. You may want to stir frequently so the quinoa doesn't burn and/or stick to your pot. After the liquid is absorbed, you're done. Place your quinoa serving (1/2 cup - 1 cup) and your desired toppings in a bowl and enjoy!

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