With the new year just beginning, I thought I’d share one of my (relatively) healthy recipes with you guys. Let me start out by saying very clearly that I do not have Celiac Disease. I generally do not have a problem digesting gluten. But after reading a bunch of stuff on people who have gone gluten-free, I decided to give it a try. I kept coming across articles or hearing from other people how giving up gluten helped solve some of their random health issues. People had less sinus problems. Less muscle aches. Headache problems went away. Skin problems cleared up. Other allergies seemed to disappear. Is it merely a coincidence? Or was gluten really the culprit? I suffer from headaches the majority of the time; it’s more rare for me to NOT have a headache of sorts. Then I somehow, totally randomly, came down with asthma a little over two years ago. Where the heck did that come from? The headaches were bad enough, so I’ve been curious about trying to go GF for awhile. I assumed it would be really hard and didn’t put enough time and energy into figuring out how to make it work for my eating habits. A friend turned me onto quinoa pasta, which we’ve actually been using for probably the past three years. And you know what? It’s good! But that’s about as far as I got because it just seemed really daunting.
The final straw came after our honeymoon. The Sunday night after our wedding—the night before we were supposed to leave for our honeymoon—I got the stomach flu. Awesome. Fabulous. It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, I’ll thank my lucky stars for that, but we still had to postpone our trip one day and take a trip to the emergency room at 4:30 in the morning. Hey, in sickness and in health, right?? After a few IV bags of fluid and some prescription nausea meds, I was doing much better. But it still took several days to be officially back to normal and I’m not sure I ever got back to 100%, honestly. Even after we were back, even three weeks later, I noticed a change in my digestive system. I was on a soup kick (after being sick I found it comforting and just stuck with it), and Campbell’s just didn’t sit right. I used to eat Lean Cuisines at lunch (easy, affordable, could keep a stash in the freezer at work, pair it with a salad and stay in a good calorie range) but those, I noticed, weren’t digesting quite right either. I don’t know if it was the stomach flu that made me notice these things or what, but that was when I finally decided that I needed to make a change. I wanted to try eating cleaner. I’m not completely clean—I don’t do organic everything—but this processed food thing has got to change. And while I’m at it, it’s a good time to see if that gluten-free thing will help as well.
I realize it’s ironic that this story comes directly after a post about making delicious biscuits full of flour, so I want to make sure you know that I’m not being disingenuous at all. My normal, average day is mostly gluten free but probably only to 85-90%. On a normal work day—because I’m in a routine—it’s the easiest for me to be disciplined and eat well without having to try very hard. I’ve been doing this for about six months now and believe me, I’m not perfect at it. On weekends I will break the rules here and there. I don’t like making people (like my parents or my husband’s parents) change their plans just because of my gluten-free attempt, so when we go home I bend the rules then too. And when it comes to baking? Yeah, definitely not going that route yet. But I notice a difference in my gut health when I’m gluten free vs not gluten free. No, my headaches have not gotten better, my sinuses are still awful and my asthma is still hanging around. But the difference in digestive health is enough for me to feel that it’s a worthwhile lifestyle change. Plus, it helps me eat cleaner because I stick with eating more whole foods, as opposed to chemically-processed gluten-free substitutes, which I really do like.
Now let’s talk about the REAL reason for the post, this oatmeal, shall we??? After trying several GF breakfast options (I used to be a religious plain Cheerios girl in the morning), this is what I’ve settled on. I eat it at approximately 8:10 in the morning and it keeps me full until 12:10 in the afternoon. Even the Cheerios didn’t accomplish that! Why do I call it “Sunday Night” oatmeal? Easy. That’s when I make it. The batch I prepare on Sunday keeps me stocked for a 5-day work week. I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Quick Cooking Oats and plain quinoa.
Why the quinoa? Well…why not? It’s a super healthy complete protein. That means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, which cannot be made by the body and therefore must come from food. Cool, huh? It’s chock full of good-for-you stuff. I’m a big fan low maintenance, easy ways to sneak healthy things into my diet and this is definitely one of them. I make 1 1/2 cups of oatmeal and 1 cup of quinoa. I only use about 2/3 of the quinoa in the oatmeal, reserving the rest of the quinoa to put on my salads for lunch that week. You can choose to adjust the ratio however you like, of course.
: : : QUINOA OATMEAL : : :
3 c water
1 1/2 c Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Quick Cooking Oats (I get a single bag at Kroger, but you can buy it on Amazon here)
pinch of salt
2 c water
1 c quinoa (white, tricolor, etc.—whatever your preference), rinsed
pinch of salt
1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 -3/4 c raspberries
1/3 c nuts, chopped — walnuts, pecans, or even pistachios
1. Pour 3 cups of water into 3 qt saucepan with pinch of salt. Heat over high, bringing to a boil.
2. Lower heat to medium, sprinkling in oatmeal. Let cook for 4-5 minutes, depending on how runny you want your oatmeal to be. When finished, pour into large mixing bowl.
3. At the same time, get the quinoa ready. Pour the other 2 cups of water, rinsed quinoa, and salt into the other pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and cover. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until quinoa is ready (the germ ring will separate from the seeds).
4. When quinoa is finished, pour a large portion into the mixing bowl with the oatmeal (I use about 1/2-2/3 of the finished batch, and save the rest in a food storage container).
6. You can choose to add the raspberries now if you like. Give them a rough chop, then mix them in. Warning: your oatmeal will look a little funky and turn kind of pink. That’s okay, trust me! 🙂 Or, you can do like I do, and wait to add them when you dish it out in the morning. I do this because I find raspberries to be a finicky fruit with a temperamental shelf life.
7. Next, store it in an air-tight, refrigerator-friendly food storage container, and pop it in the fridge for the next few mornings! If you find you oatmeal is particularly thick in the morning, add a little milk to your portion when you heat it. I heat mine for about 45 seconds in the microwave, stir it again, then heat for another 30 seconds. Your method may vary depending on your microwave.
Just to let you know, this oatmeal recipe is not very sweet! If you want sweeter oatmeal, feel free to add more brown sugar. Or, you can use agave nectar instead for dietary reasons. I tried for a very long time not to sweeten the oatmeal at all, but I just found it so much more enjoyable (and I can eat it faster, which is important for the work day) even with the lightest sprinkle of brown sugar.
What do you normally eat for breakfast? Do you have any easy recipes that make your daily routine a little bit healthier without a lot of effort? Please share!