I’ve been having the same thing for breakfast, nearly every morning for about the last year, and I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. Maybe it’s because every day, even though it’s the same, it is something different. Something I’ve come to call quoatmeal. What the heck is quoatmeal? Well, it’s a blend of quinoa and oatmeal… and “quoatmeal” sounds so much cooler than “oatmeal with quinoa”, doesn’t it? Here’s a picture of what I had this morning…
I post different variations I’ve had on twitter here and there, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually shared how I make this protein packed breakfast. And after over a year of tweeking this a bit here and there, I think I’ve got a pretty decent method here worth sharing.
Breakfast is a majorly important meal, whether you’re trying to lose weight or not. But too often people say they don’t have time to make a good breakfast so they’ll grab a protein bar, or a protein shake, or just plain skip it. The bars and shakes are fine. Better than not eating something at all. But c’mon… you can do better.
I call it a method more than a recipe, because of all the different variations you can do to it. There’s a couple of basic steps and ingredients that remain the same, but after that the limit is only really your imagination and personal tastes.
Ok, so at it’s most basic, a bowl of quoatmeal consists of the following:
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
pinch of salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup unflavored protein powder
dried fruit, frozen fruit, fresh fruit, nuts or other stuff
Mix the rolled oats, cooked quinoa, flaxseed, salt and water in a 2-cup microwave safe dish. If you are adding some extra stuff like fruit or nuts, stir them in now. Other extras get added after cooking. Microwave on high 2-1/2 to 3 minutes (depending on strength of your microwave). There should still be a fair amount of liquid left after it’s done cooking. If it seems too dry, add either a bit of warm/hot water or maybe a bit of milk, then stir in the protein powder. Add a touch of sweetener if you want, and enjoy! Depending on your protein powder and things you add to it, you’ll get about 35g of protein here.
If you’re far enough out, this makes for a pretty good sized breakfast. For those earlier in the game, eat what you can and save the rest for tomorrow. It reheats pretty well. Or try cutting the recipe in half. Yea, I know it seems like a lot of carbs here, and it sort of is. But these are complex carbs, the kind that will fill you up and leave you feeling full for quite awhile. And lots of great fiber too boot.
Now as simple as that all seems (and is really), there’s actually a lot of stuff that goes in to this. I’ll tackle things one at a time here.
When I first started doing this, I would mix the protein powder in at the beginning. Well, if you haven’t learned by now, protein powders, especially whey isolate ones that most WLS types tend to favor, don’t do well with hot liquids. So I figured putting it in first would help keep it from clumping and all that. Anyone that’s tried to stir some protein powder in to a cup of cocoa or coffee will back me up on this. But for some odd reason that I’m sure a chemist could explain… the protein powder always got a bit clumpy on me anyways.
I went through a few different attempts at different ways to add the protein powder to my morning meal – I tried making a “milk” by combining a scoop of protein powder in to a small amount of water. That sorta worked, but was sort of messy. Either I would have to dirty a bowl to mix it in, or a small jar to shake it up in. And at the time I had reduced the water for cooking a bit since I was adding liquid back to it after.
One time I decided to up the water for cooking again, and try stirring the powder in after cooking… and well… it worked. Sometimes you just get lucky I guess.
Using a whey protein powder you get a bit of a milky flavor when added to the bowl of quoatmeal. If you really want a lot of creaminess, sub milk for some of the water in the cooking.
And as far as protein powders go, the only one I keep on hand is the unflavored, unsweetened powder I get from trueprotein.com – use what you have. A vanilla would work fine here too. Heck, try a chocolate or other flavor once in awhile just to see what happens.
I use thick rolled oats. They can usually be found in the bulk areas of some grocery stores, co-ops, and natural food stores. I like the heftier texture of them. If you can’t find them, look for just regular rolled oats. Do NOT use quick oats or instant oats.
Basically, the only real difference in the different oats is how thick they are. Instant are rolled really thin, so they cook really fast. Quick oats are a thicker than instant, but not as thick as the regular rolled oats. And thick, well… I think you can figure it out from here.
And once in awhile, I will make a batch of steel cut oats and stir some quinoa in with those after they’re cooked. Typically, I get my oats for about $0.89 a pound in the bulk bins. If you buy them in the cereal aisle, the store-brand will be about the same cost. If you want to buy the name brand (Quaker for example), you’ll typically pay about $1.20 a pound. Only thing you’re really missing with the bulk ones are the cooking instructions and recipe ideas… both of which you can get online.
The mother grain. A complete protein. Versatile and yummy.
I typically cook one or two batches of quinoa a week and keep it in my fridge. In fact, I keep a 1/2 cup measuring cup in the container so I don’t have to dig it out every morning when I make my breakfast.
For over a year now, when I make my quinoa, I use a mix of red and white. Unfortunately… I’m nearing the end of my supply or red quinoa. The price of it at the store I usually get it has more than doubled in recent months to nearly $7 a pound. Most places like Trader Joe’s carry the white for around $4. The co-op I was buying from had both red and white for closer to $3 a pound. I just got a 4 pound bag at Costco for $2.25 a pound.
The taste difference between the red and the white is subtle. Maybe it’s even just my imagination. To me though it’s always had a bit of a nuttier flavor. The main reason I think I’ve always mixed them is I just like the look of it. But I can’t justify spending $7 a pound on it right now. So until the price drops a bit, the new year will see me doing only white quinoa.
If you need some help on how to cook quinoa, one of my recent BTV videos shows you how.
The ground flaxseed doesn’t seem to do much to the flavor. And I’ve used both dark and golden, just depending on what I find for the best price at the store I’m at when I happen to need more. I don’t think I’ve ever spent over $2 a pound for them. Both my local grocer and the co-op I frequent have them in bulk for about $1.70. If you can only find the pre-packaged ones, do NOT buy the already ground. Buy the whole seeds and grind them yourself. The Magic Bullet type blenders with the flat blade work perfect for this. You can grind them as coarse or as fine as you want.
I do about 1/2 to 3/4 cup at a time. Enough to last just under a week I suppose. I do keep these in a small jar in the cupboard next to my other oatmeal fixings. The rest of the seeds are in a jar in the fridge. Flaxseeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber. It’s because of the omega-3 fatty acids that you want to store these in the fridge. Just keeping them out in room-temp conditions can cause them to go rancid. I wouldn’t buy more than a pound of these at a time either because of that…. unless you’re doing some recipes that call for a LOT of flax seed.
Now, this is where the “fun” comes in. This is where you can use your imagination. This is where you really kick up the flavor.
Now probably 9 out of 10 times I eat this, I have some sort of fruit added in. I keep a selection of dried fruits on hand pretty much just for my breakfasts. Raisins, dried cranberries, dates, dried apricots, sometimes I splurge on dried cherries. I think you get the idea. Just throw some of these in the bowl before cooking.
I also keep fresh and frozen fruits around as well. I still have blueberries, strawberries and kiwi in the freezer from when they were at the peak (and cheapest) this last summer. Sometimes I’ll slice some fresh banana into the bowl, or maybe some apple slices. If you use frozen fruit, I recommend pulling what you want out of the freezer the night before, stick in a bowl in the fridge so they can thaw over night. Otherwise, you’ll need to add up to a minute to the cooking time… which works, but every once in awhile it seems like it makes the oats a bit on the tough side.
Don’t overlook canned fruits either. Peaches and cream anyone?
Now for the gastric-bypass types, you may need to be careful of the fruits. Especially early on, and especially the dried ones as they often have added sugar. So play it safe and start out with just a tablespoon or two at first and adjust from there.
Beyond fruit, there’s nuts and seeds. Pumpkin, sunflower, cashews, pecans, walnuts, almonds… and nut butters too. One of my “regulars” is PB&J Quoatmeal, after cooking I add a dollop of SF or all natural jam or preserves and a dollop of peanut butter. The peanut butter melts a bit in to the warm quoatmeal… mmm. yum. (peanut butter and banana is another favorite of mine!) Mixing nuts and fruits give you some great combos too… banana-walnut anyone?
A couple other things I keep on hand to add in are cocoa nibs, unsweetened coconut (mix with some canned or dried pineapple for a tropical kick!), I even mixed in a packet of SF apple cider mix once cause I wanted an apple -raisin flavor but didn’t have any apples on hand. Oh! And pumpkin. A great fall flavor. And don’t forget the spices, cinnamon especially goes well with everything from raisins to apples to pumpkin. Or a touch of extracts, vanilla, almond, or even orange extracts can be a great way to add a hint of flavor that can compliment some of the other things you throw in there. I haven’t been adventurous enough to try any savory-flavors yet, but you may be more daring than I am in that regard.
The last thing I’ll mention is sweeteners. Now often with the dried fruits, or if you’re using a flavored protein powder you’ll likely not need any additional sweeteners. But… other times you just want something a bit on the sweet side. Personally, I’ve been trying to get away from using artificial sweeteners and go with more natural sweeteners. For better or worse, I don’t dump, so if you do, stick with what works for you.
One of my “go to” sweeteners for my morning quoatmeal is agave syrup. It’s sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need much, and I think the distinct flavor it adds works well with some of the different fruits I use. Beyond that, there’s honey, maple syrup (regular or SF), stevia as well as the other usual “substitutes” like Splenda, Whey Gold, etc. Once in awhile, if I think it works really well with the other stuff I have in there I also use a bit of brown sugar.
Well, this really turned out to be a much longer posting than I ever planned on. In fact it probably takes a LOT longer to read this than it does to make a bowl of this for breakfast. And while I’m not saying you should be eating this for breakfast every day like I do… but I think you’ll find this is a breakfast that is quick and easy enough to make that you really don’t have any excuse to not be eating your breakfast (versus drinking it perhaps?), and there are so many things you can do with it that there has got to be a version or two that you’ll just love and want to have on a regular basis.
May 2011 – I’ve made a couple of small changes to how I do this whole quoatmeal thing – first off, I’ve been using chia seeds lately instead of flax seed. Been using ch-ch-ch-chia (yes, that chia) seeds for a couple months now. They’re a bit more expensive, and harder to find, but you do not have to grind them up first. They give pretty much the same benefits, and maybe it’s just me, but I think they add just a touch of sweetness. Also, I’ve taken to soaking the oats whenever possible.
What’s soaking the oats mean? Just like it sounds… before going to bed I put the oats and chia seeds in the bowl, add the water and stick in the fridge. If I’m doing dried fruit, I’ll also throw that in the bowl. Then come morning I add a scoop of quinoa, a splash of milk (the oats and chia really soak up the liquid) and microwave for about 3 minutes. It does take a bit longer to cook, mostly I think because it’s starting at fridge temp instead of room temp.
Soaking the oats really softens up the texture, adds creaminess to the whole thing. I’ve also tried this a couple times with steel cut oats and it works too. But… I would say try to soak them at least 8 hours. I had one night where it was only 6-7 hours and they still had a bit of crunch to them. Course, you may like that too.