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  • Michelle

Quinoa and Chia Porridge - Slow living

Continuing with our endless quest for the round meal, or the balanced plate I guess you could call it, this morning we are making porridge.

I used to be a big traditional oat-porridge eater, nothing I loved more than a bowl of porridge dusted in brown sugar, swimming in cows milk. These days one such bowl would leave me struggling for air and creaking like an old washing mangle for days, but if you think on it, porridge is one of the ultimate comfort foods and it deserves a place in our diet, we just need to tweak it a bit so we can eat it without pain.

I think this looks pretty good, but it may be one of those beauty is in the eye of the beholder things, certainly Emma (19) reared back in revulsion when I offered her some, she is up early this morning because she is booked in to get her first tattoo.

Before we get to our ingredients list I want to share with you a most interesting week in the nutrition class at uni. One of our tasks was to do a quiz to see how our diet stacked up, it was a very generic quiz, how many serves of dairy do you have a week (none), how many serves of bread, pasta, rice do you have a week (uh-oh, none), so it wasn‘t a great surprise to me that my score was low, what was a surprise was how many people in the class were in the same boat, we seem to abound in food intolerances in Human Nutrition 1!

So anyway, the one size fits all quiz said that I need to eat more grains (!) and more dairy (!!) and did not even consider that there may be alternatives. After being cross about this for a little while I thought, well, I haven’t tried testing a small amount of grains for a while, my body is pretty strong and balanced at the moment (exercises at the physio and all that running has made me feel about 14), so I will try a small spoonful of oats slow cooked in my quinoa porridge for breakfast. Well! Two rude fingers to the creators of that quiz! Within twenty minutes I was attached to my ventolin inhaler and I wore a corset of pain and had the arthritic bird claws for hands for four days.

So I took the opportunity to ask the lovely dietician lady who runs our lectures about this. Is it better to have the recommended varieties in our diet and live with the pain, or is it better to find alternatives that replace those nutrients and live apart from the healthy food guidelines? The answer was pretty firm, if you are having pain, your body is struggling to process that thing, find a way to prepare it that you can tolerate or replace it with something that you can tolerate that gives the same nutritional benefits. She went on to say that oats contain a compound that can trigger a response in some people very similar to the one gluten does, and indeed, on the very next slide were some guidelines from the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand that listed oats and their products among the things that must not be in gluten free food. So there you go, I am not alone.

But back to the point, our endless quest for the complete meal, well, this one is pretty good, but we will have a closer look at it after we make it.


Makes one bowl

1/8 cup of quinoa

1 tablespoon chia seed

1 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh, finely chopped turmeric (optional)

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 apple, grated, skin on

1 teaspoon coconut cream

2 tablespoons mixed seeds

sprinkle of dried cranberries

You know those quick oats? The ones that cook in a couple of minutes? This is the opposite of those, this is sslllooooowwww porridge. Pop the quinoa and the chia seed in a small pot with the water and let it sit for five minutes, while that is happening, give your mixed seeds a bit of a crisp up in a separate pot on a medium heat until they have a little colour, this isn’t going to impact on their nutrition, but it is going to make them extra yummy, if you are using linseeds in your mix they are a really good indicator, when they start to pop like popcorn they are done, get them off the heat, set aside.

Put the quinoa mix on a very low heat, stir in your turmeric and cinnamon and let it mull for about half an hour, we don’t want it simmering, simmering implies movement, we want it steaming, but not too much, if it gets too dry add a bit more water and/or put a lid on your pot. Quinoa can be sneaky, it can upset the digestion if not thoroughly cooked so lets have a look at it.

See these white and solid black balls? Not ready. We want it pretty much translucent and it will also look like it has had tiny worms come out of it. How about this?

That is looking a lot better, bring the heat up a tiny bit if it is not already simmering (it will start to simmer as the available water is all absorbed). Allow to simmer for about 30 seconds and then turn off the heat. Stir in the grated apple.

And your coconut cream. Spoon into your chosen receptacle (bowl), top with a little of whatever milk you prefer, for me that is my home made almond milk (recipe on blog), sprinkle with dried cranberries and your crisped nuts. Delicious! And for me, pain free!

Let’s step back now and have a good look at this from a nutrition point of view. Let us first consider our macronutrients (what fancy words I am learning in the uni Human Nutrition 1), protein, yep, chia and quinoa are both excellent sources of non-animal protein, sesame seeds, pepitas, linseeds and sunflower seeds are also high in protein, with sunflower seeds actually containing all of our essential amino acids. Fats? Yes, we have our good fats in our seeds and our almond milk, as well as a bit of extra fat in our coconut cream, which you can leave out if you are watching your kJs, I am getting a bit skinny with all this exercise so I need a bit of extra fat at the moment. Carbohydrates? Yes, we have plenty of carbohydrate in our apple, in our quinoa and our dried cranberries.

What about our vitamins and minerals? What about our fibre? Yes, we have good amounts of all of that here, our seeds and our pseudo grain (quinoa) are all high in fibre, we have that apple skin that we left on too so we are going to get both a fibre and a prebiotic boost from that. Our sunflower seeds are high in copper, Vitamin E and B1, 2 and 3, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, selenium, zinc, manganese and iron, sesame seeds we have discussed at length before, little powerhouse seeds of minerals like calcium, copper and more (for more info go to post on sesame seeds), linseeds are high in iron, calcium, magnesium and lignan, which is an antioxidant that may help reduce the incidence of breast cancer in women who are undergoing (like me) or have undergone menopause, pepitas are very high in phosphorus, magnesium, cucurbitacins (which help protect the prostate of our men folk), zinc, copper, iron, manganese (good for regulating our hormones), goodness, these little seeds are amazing!

Our apple, added after the heat was turned off to preserve the water soluble vitamins, is a good source of Vitamin A, some B Vitamins and some Vitamin C and E. They are also high in pectin which is a fibre and can help, when taken in this form (mostly concentrated in the apple skin), to lower cholesterol and reduce spikes in blood sugar.

It is funny actually, I always think I eat a lot of apples, but I don’t. I buy a lot of apples because I use them in my jams and chutneys, but I don’t actually eat a lot of them. Note to self, an apple a day may help keep the doctor away, if I am very lucky and my diet is good and I stop ageing right now. Hmmm. Well, an apple a day is good for me anyway.

Um, what else did we have? Oh yes, our turmeric.

Well, a lot has been said about the active compound in turmeric in recent years, and people get really excited about it. It is called curcurmin and a lot of people use it for arthritis, my husband was among those who found great success with curcurmin, right up until the point that his body said, no! NO MORE! And he started to get swellings in his face and neck and armpits. I dragged him off to the doctor, who recommended he stop using it and the swellings went away. So there you go, there is no one size fits all because we are all of us different and we each need to find our own path. But I have put turmeric in here because it contains some wonderful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and even Mr T can eat it like this as it is not a concentrated dose of curcurmin, but a trace of it, wrapped up in a package of other wonderful compounds that promote good health. Besides, I like the taste of it, not so much when it is dried, when it tastes to me like yellow dirt, but when it is fresh there is a spicy floralness that is quite lovely.

So yes, since we are counting (since doing our stir-fry), I think we can count this one Round Meal Number 3.


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