I’m ashamed to say that breakfasts are sort of an afterthought in this household. If there was a candid camera sneaking around here in the mornings, we’d be in the hall of shame for certain. I start my mornings, early, with a glass of water and lemon (thanks, Winnie!). I shuffle out in my bathrobe and sit, glass of water in hand, while I sift through various emails, make a list of things to do for the day, and generally try to wake up. Each morning, I compile relevant press links for a client, put together a social media strategy for the day. I do it early on because I like to free up the rest of my day to work on books, on writing, on having some flexibility with my schedule. And it’s perhaps because mornings are so packed with activity, that everything: exercise, breakfast, showering, often falls by the wayside.
Lately, in particular, as I was rushing to the finish line with Marc Murphy’s book (it’s been submitted! fireworks! fanfare! celebratory cocktails!) breakfast was, well, it didn’t exist period. I’d realize by about 11am that I was so hungry I couldn’t see straight, and I’d lunge into the kitchen and try to make myself a smoothie (very good), a piece of toast (good, but was getting old), or a few slices of cheddar cheese with an apple (also very good). But did I make myself a proper breakfast? No.
Since we’ve moved into the new apartment, and while our kitchen was unusable, our go-to breakfast has been cereal. For Andrew, it was Heritage Flakes with blueberries, while I stuck, firmly and stubbornly, to Grape Nuts. But the real issue here is that we are a weekday-breakfast-fail household. And while I wish with all my heart that we change our ways, our mornings are proving to be too demanding.
And this is where Megan Gordon’s lovely book comes in. It inspires me, nudges me, guides me to do better when it comes to arguably the most important meal of the day. And while the book is full of really lovely recipes I can’t wait to finally make*, one recipe, in particular, has really stuck out to me, because it is entirely composed of some of my favorite words: coconut, quinoa, and porridge. Also, triple, as in coconut. In this breakfast porridge that is sure to make regular appearances around these corners, Megan uses coconut milk, unsweetened coconut flakes, and finishes the porridge with a drizzle of coconut oil. And I love the use of quinoa here. More often, you see quinoa is served as a savory side, but it does equally as well as a breakfast ingredient. I’ve been a big fan of quinoa for a few years now, and I’m glad that it’s become easier to find. Only just a few years ago, I’d have to go to a health food store to get it, and now it’s available in stores like Trader Joe’s.
I’ve been reading Megan’s blog for years. I followed her journey from San Francisco to Seattle. I watched from afar how she built her delicious granola business, batch by batch, and I couldn’t be happier for her. I was so thrilled for her when she got engaged. This beautiful book is a natural extension of her work with, and understanding of, whole grains.
What I intend on doing is to make this porridge once a week and eat it for a few days. That way, if I have to resort to a smoothie one day and cheddar and apple the next, it’s not quite so bad. As I write this, there’s a double batch of this porridge in my fridge, so I’m already mending my ways.
*I’m sorry to be so late to the game here as I spent the last few months without a kitchen and then another frenetic month trying to finish testing recipes for a cookbook. If you’re dying to know what it was like to live without a kitchen – here you go.
Triple-Coconut Quinoa Porridge
Adapted from Whole Grain Mornings, by Megan Gordon
I love the idea of porridge for breakfast, and I really like quinoa in all its permutations. I love the idea of using coconut milk, oil, and flakes. I think this would be terrific with sliced mango (which I didn’t have on hand when I tested the recipe). Or maybe roasted pineapple.
Mostly, I kept the recipe as is, but made a few tweaks that seemed more suited to my palate. I took out all the sugar – as even as little as 2 tablespoons tasted too sweet on my first go-around making this. The second time around, without the sugar, I could taste the coconut flavors better and I found the natural sweetness from coconut to be enough for me. Since we’ve kept a low-sugar household for quite some time, my palate is very sensitive to things that are sweet but aren’t dessert. I opted for light coconut milk instead of the full version, and I doubled the amount of ground ginger because I liked a little bit more kick. If you plan on using coconut oil, I strongly recommend you use extra-virgin coconut oil. Less refined, it’s much better for you than its non extra-virgin cousin – and it tastes better too. Next time when I make this, I’d like to try this porridge with fresh ginger – I bet it’s going to be great.
1 ¼ cups (60 grams) unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean extract
1 (13-ounce; 400 ml) can light coconut milk
1 cup (180 grams) quinoa, rinsed
2 tablespoons natural cane sugar, (optional – see headnote)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 2 tablespoons melted extra-virgin coconut oil, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325[dg]F; position the rack in the middle.
Place ¾ cup of the coconut flakes in a shallow baking pan and toast in the oven until fragrant and just golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
In a medium pot set over medium heat, combine coconut milk, quinoa, remaining coconut flakes, sugar (if using), ginger, and salt with ¼ cup of water. Bring the mixture to a slow boil. Decrease heat to low and cover the pot. Cook porridge until thickened and most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring a few times to prevent sticking at the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Divide between bowls and garnish with the toasted coconut flakes and a drizzle of the melted coconut oil.
Makes about 3 cups – Serves about 2.