{Kitchen Therapy} Mental Consolidation & Quinoa Waffles

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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.

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  • 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.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. TamrahJo says:

    Do you soak/sprout the quinoa, grind it into flour, or just rinse and leave whole?
    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Alexis says:

      That was an error on my part not to explain: it’s one cup of cooked and cooled quinoa. Thanks for catching that!

      1. TamrahJo says:

        And thank you for the recipe! 🙂

  2. Amy Halloran says:

    I love making breakfast too — but haven’t thought much about the process of it, just the product. When I travel and have to think about not having pancakes, I get a little lost. I think the lostness is from missing out on the act of standing at the griddle, being, as much as from eating things that are not pancakes!

    1. Alexis says:

      Amy – that’s so interesting and I can totally relate. Had not thought about times when I am away from my kitchen, but I am certainly impacted by those.

  3. nosharingplease says:

    I like the fact that you actually saw the benefit of cooking to concentration. I have a problem focusing as well since this world leads us to keep multitasking at the risk of not being able to hold things together. I have short term memory loss and i do hope that my passion for cooking will get my focus back. 🙂

    1. Alexis says:

      I say just start cooking and keep up with it and eventually your passion will come back.

  4. Sounds good! Do you use cooked or uncooked quinoa?

    1. Alexis says:

      Lisa – cooked quinoa – see my comment above. Sorry about that!

  5. Sounds great! I’m going t have to try to make these 100 percent gluten free by using GF all purpose flour. These look so healthy compared to the standard!

    1. Alexis says:

      I bet the gluten free version would be delicious. Pancakes and waffles are so simple, you can really mix up the ingredients without too much difficulty.

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