On weekday mornings, I have criteria for breakfast. I must have something that is enjoyable to eat but also nourishing and balanced. Something that has staying power, but does not require much hands-on time the morning of so that I can get on with the day. Now I work from home, but when I drove to work, I also needed something that was easily transportable to the office.
This overnight quinoa oatmeal checks all of those boxes, plus it's gluten-free (providing you buy certified gluten-free oats and quinoa) and dairy-free, so I think it will appeal to many of you out there and whatever your own personal breakfast requirements are!
I use a mixture of white quinoa and steel-cut (Irish) oats (or hafergrütze in Switzerland). I've made versions with only steel-cut oats, which is also delicious, but I prefer quinoa as the base because it has more protein and stays with me longer. The mixture is soaked in a nut or grain-based milk overnight which allows it to cook up quicker in the morning. Additionally, soaking grains, seeds, and nuts help remove the phytic acid coating allowing the nutrients to be more accessible to your body and more easily digestible. Sometimes I'll add a few almonds in with the oats and milk the night before and they soak and cook along with the oatmeal. Other times I add them raw on top after the oatmeal has been cooked.
For quicker prep I cook mine in the microwave. I have not tried this version on the stove-top, but if you have the extra time, it should cook up fine covered, over medium-low to medium heat. Stir once or twice so the bottom does not burn, and make sure some liquid is left at the end so it has a porridge consistency. You may need additional milk or water for cooking on the stove-top and the cooking time will inevitably increase.
I like to top this oatmeal with a handful of seasonal fruit, chopped almonds, and coconut butter than slowly melts into the oatmeal. Sometimes I'll add an extra splash of milk to thin it out a bit, as it thickens when it cools.
Breakfast is as important for me as any other meal. It sets the tone for body and mind for the rest of the day, directly impacting energy levels and mood. We all have hectic schedules and multiple distractions in the day starting from the moment we wake up. But breakfast should not be an after-thought that gets pushed aside as a result. It should be a coping mechanism to help us deal with the day and give us something to look forward to in the mornings. And when much of the prep work can be done ahead, there is really no excuse not to fit such a nourishing and satisfying meal into our morning routine.
Overnight Quinoa Oatmeal
Serves 1 generously
Notes: I prefer naturally sweet nut or grain-based milks (i.e. no added sugar) because they add a nice flavor to the oatmeal. Almond and coconut-rice milk are two of my favorites. And I haven't tried it, but oat or hazelnut milk may be another nice choice.
1/3 cup (63 g) white quinoa, rinsed until water runs clear and drained
2 Tbsp steel cut/Irish oats
1 cup (236 ml) nut or grain-based milk of choice
Mix all ingredients in a deep microwavable dish twice as large as your contents. (A 4 or 8 cup Pyrex liquid measuring cup would also work well.) Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Pinch of salt
Fruit (berries, kiwi, mango, etc)
Chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
Honey, agave, or maple syrup
Coconut butter (I use this brand)
Add salt to the soaked oatmeal, stir, and microwave uncovered on high for 3-5 minutes (stirring a few times), until the liquid is at a constant simmer, rises up, and the grains are cooked to your liking. The time will really depend on how powerful your microwave is. If you know your microwave is slower, the cooking time may take 6-7 minutes, but that should be max. Watch carefully the last few minutes so the contents do not overflow.
Transfer to a bowl and add desired toppings and/or additional milk if you want to thin it out.