I have written a lot about breakfast on this blog. I’ve realized recently that making breakfast is meaningful to me. I like eating breakfast foods, but I now recognize that, more importantly, the process of cooking breakfast improves my mental health. When I feel scattered and disorganized, making breakfast helps me to consolidate and settle within myself.
One of the things that’s been challenging for me about being the primary caretaker for my small children throughout most of the week is the lack of continuous activity. Everything is start and stop, often with multiple actions occurring at once. The hectic environment is tiring and overstimulating, while at the same time lacking in opportunity for a sense of accomplishment.
A long time ago I heard about a man named Clive who had sustained a permanent loss his short term memory from encephalitis. He was such an interesting case that Oliver Sacks later wrote about him. Clive kept a journal from which you could tell that every couple minutes his memory would kind of reset and start over. He was a composer/conductor and it was only when he was conducting an orchestra throughout a single musical piece that he could retain a focus continuously past those couple minutes. Sacks wrote, “Once Clive starts playing, his ‘momentum’…will keep him, and keep the piece, going.” My understanding was that the continuity and creativity of the music held his focus together and helped to keep his brain from losing track.
For some of us, cooking, like music, provides us with a continuous experience that integrates our experience and helps us to feel settled and focused. The external no longer overwhelms our internal and we are able to connect the two more fluidly. The rewards of cooking are small but significant. A food project begins and continues until it ends. Each step of preparation follows the previous step.
So many people I talk to say they drag their feet to start preparing a meal, but that once they get started they’re fine and actually enjoy the cooking experience. I’ve known this to be true for me about dinner for a long time, but only recently have I started noticing the benefit of making breakfast. It’s not always possible for me to take the time to prepare something, but when I can it pays off.
My latest breakfast obsession has been quinoa pancakes and waffles. Below is my recipe for quinoa waffles. If you want to make them as pancakes instead, just omit the melted butter.
RECIPE: QUINOA WAFFLES
- 1 cup flour (I use white whole wheat)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup milk/yogurt (any combo of the two up to a cup total)
- 2 or 3 eggs, separated
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbs melted butter, cooled
Mix together the dry ingredients. Combine the milk/yogurt, egg yolks, vanilla, quinoa and the butter. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them in to the mixture. For my waffle maker, which is of the non-Belgian variety, I scoop about one cup per waffle and let each one cook for about five minutes. You can use any variety of quinoa for this recipe – red is fun because it’s visible. If you want to sneak in the extra nutrients undetected by your children, use plain quinoa because it is hardly detectable in the final product.