Tropical Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Guess what? I live in Australia.

If you know me in real life or have taken the time to read my About Me page, you’re probably all, “well duh.”

But I have to remind myself of this fact all. the. time. Walking down my street is the best time for this.

For months it has smelled like vacation on my street. Ok, that sounds weird. But someone is always barbequing, I swear. And the scent of foreign plants and flowers reminds me of my first visit to this country. So sometimes when I’m walking home I like to take a deep breath and say gently to myself (in my head), “hey girl, you live here. That’s kind of cool.”

But despite people saying ‘mate’ all the time and other obvious and personal reminders, I still can’t seem to fully internalize my location.

I know I’m to blame.  My, ahem, voracious consumption of food blogs is a major factor. Many of my favorites are based in the US, or else in the Northern Hemisphere. I inevitably end up reading about a slow-braised meat dish here, and a roasted root vegetable there, and before I know it I am aching to turn on the oven for hours on a hot summer afternoon. Like a crazy person.

I must tell myself to wait…be patient…put these recipes on the list – or PIN them (btw, thank you Pinterest for making me a less frenzied recipe collector.)

One warming, cold-weather food I refuse to put on hold is hot cereal. I love the blank canvas that oatmeal or a multi-grain cereal gives me.  Sweet, savory, seed-studded, cream-laced, peanut butter-topped, or with a big pile of fruit – I find it hard to tire of.

One of the many great things about Australia is the fresh fruits and vegetables. We have access to tropical-type produce that normally has to travel a long way to reach me in New York. But now, things like bananas grow only a state away. And passion fruit? If ever there were a nectar of the gods! For serious.

To keep me in check but satiate my need for a warm breakfast, I made a tropical version of my normal oats. I used light coconut milk, swapped oats for the more exotic-sounding quinoa, and topped it with kiwi, banana, toasted coconut and almonds.

The real key to making this “tropical” is the coconut milk with a little vanilla – it’s just dreamy. The rest of the components can be negotiated based on where ever you happen to be in the world.

I like to combine a mixed-grain cereal (I like Bob’s Red Mill 6-Grain Hot Cereal with flaxseed) with something more structured like traditional rolled oats or quinoa to add extra creaminess but still maintain a good texture. But you could make this using just one type of cereal or grain.

Tropical Breakfast Quinoa
Serves 2

– 1/2 cup quinoa
– 1/4 cup mixed grain cereal
– 1/2 cup coconut milk
– 1 1/2 cup water
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
– 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
– pinch of salt

Put quinoa, cereal, coconut milk, water and pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Stir in vanilla, honey, cinnamon and cover. Bring down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add a little more coconut milk towards the end, if desired. Serve with the toppings of your choice. (Toasted coconut is highly recommended.)

To toast coconut: sprinkle a layer of coconut in a dry pan over a low heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden and fragrant.

Garnish options:
– toasted coconut
– toasted almonds
– toasted cashews
– banana
– kiwi
– pineapple
– mango
– passion fruit  pulp
– papaya

BOOM! Tropical up in here.