I’m a huge fan of oatmeal, I’ll just lead with that. And until just recently, I really, really wasn’t a quinoa fan. But in The Netherlands after one trip, we had made a batch of quinoa in the rice cooker to go with dinner, and we had some leftover in the morning before a flight. I hated to see it go to waste/I was a little tight on time to make oatmeal, so I just grabbed the blueberries that were about to go bad, some almond milk, a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon and the quinoa and threw it together in a bowl.
The result? My new favorite breakfast.
And it’s really translated to this big training block I’m in. Last year, I wrote about how coaching a training camp made me hyper-aware of how I was eating on the bike, and I avoided bonking like the plague, and this year, that concept has translated into pre-ride breakfast as well.
I got a rice cooker out in Solvang since we’re here coaching the training camp all month, and picked up some quinoa after my stomach rebelled against eating a whole bowl of oats the morning before a long, hard ride. I think I was a little nervous, since it was the first day of the camp, and I remember when I was racing seriously, I could never do oatmeal when I had early race starts (for Ironman, I think I ate a bagel. Yikes.). For some reason, the oats have a consistency that I love when I’m relaxed, but when I’m getting hyped up for something, it’s hard for me to handle them. So, after that day, I grabbed quinoa, hoping it would do the trick.
The key? RICE COOKER. I hated quinoa when I cooked it on the stove in college when it first came out as a vegan-friendly superfood (I was vegan at the time). But I overcooked it and it was mushy and kind of gross. In a rice cooker, it quickly achieves that nutty, chewy consistency that makes it a lot tastier. And it’s so much easier! I’ve been making big batches, then tossing the cooker into the fridge and scooping a bit out each day, so one batch lasts 4-5 breakfasts.
It’s a cleaner, less preservative-packed alternative to a cold cereal, and I can keep the amount of sugar to a minimum (though the brown sugar is a must for me). I’ve also realized I can save serious $$$$ by switching to frozen blueberries rather than fresh ones at this time of the year, and a quick minute in the microwave is just right. If I want something more oats-adjacent, I warm up the quinoa as well. Add a little unsweetened almond milk, and boom! Breakfast.
(On big ride days, I’m also adding two eggs with spinach, just for some extra satiety so I don’t have to panic about bonking.)