One Small Win (Breakfast Edition)

Fixing our fast food breakfasts with “Deb’s Delicious Quinoa & Compote.” Quick. Easy. Healthier.

Our Three Goals:

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Quinoa and peach compote, with tree nuts. And black coffee (because that’s healthy, too!)
  1. Substitute a quick, healthier breakfast for our current go-to of fast food or microwave, highly-processed junk food (pre-packaged, high carb, preservative-filled, high-sugar, non-nutritive, “convenience” food).
  2. Support the ongoing process of weaning ourselves away from an undeniable sugar addiction — one of the greatest long-term health risks we embrace.
  3. Nudge ourselves toward more consistently eating for tomorrow, rather than eating for “right now.”


For busy people, eating — especially breakfast — too easily becomes a grab-and-go, on-the-fly activity optimizing short-term convenience over current and future health.

But we all know that eating should be mindful, not mindless. Like anything else when it comes to caring for ourselves, the diet we choose in this decade directly affect how we’ll look and feel in the next one. The habit we want to form is one that shifts our focus from eating crap because it’s convenient toward eating healthy because we’ve made it just as convenient. That’ll help lay our foundation for a happier, healthier future.

With this breakfast choice, we address the sabotaging attraction of fast food or quick, microwavable breakfasts for an alternative that’s just as fast (if not faster!), and much healthier (while still being tasty!).

Because when you eat better, you feckin’ feel better. Seriously!

The number one key toward sustaining healthy eating is to add just enough organization to your life to make healthier choices convenient. In the case of this breakfast, that can be accomplished with a little as 30 minutes of prep time on a weekend. That will allow you to eat healthily all week long!

What We’ll Need

  • Two, 2-quart saucepans (or just one, if you want to make the two components below serially instead of at the same time).
  • One cup of quinoa (available in the “grains” section of your grocery store, usually in the same area as rice).
  • Two 1-lb bags of frozen, sliced peaches (you can slice your own, but our goal here is speed and ease, right?).
  • Stevia (I like the Truvia brand) brown-sugar blend (this mixes natural, low-cal Stevia sweetener with a little bit of brown sugar, which reduces the sugar you’re eating (yeah, there’s still some sugar in this recipe, but we’re going for healthier, not militant! …and, over time, you may find you’re fine with cutting this ingredient out altogether, and just going to with Stevia).
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla Extract (organic is ideal, but any extract will do)
  • (Optional) Some walut halves (or chopped walnuts). If you like another tree nut, you can grab some of those, too. What I like to do is add (or make) a trail mix blend that has a high ratio of tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc) to dried fruit.


Your Weekend Prep

Step 1. Start your compote bubbling!

  1. Dump the peaches into your saucepan.
  2. Add in about a half-cup of water.
  3. Add in about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the Stevia brown sugar blend (you can use up to 1/2 cup if you’ve been a sugar addict and still need your food really sweet for it to be tasty; over time, eating more healthily will retrain your palate so you don’t need everything to be sweet, salty, or fatty to enjoy it).
  4. Add in about 2 tsps of cinnamon (vary to suit your preference)
  5. Add in about 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
  6. Stir. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for a bit (15-30 minutes, whatever). Chanting the “Double, double, toil and trouble” verse from Hamlet will make you sound more educated, here. Or maybe a little crazy. Either is good, right?

Step 2. Cook the Quinoa.

(Note — if you’ve never eaten quinoa and want to ease into its flavor (which can be a little nutty at first), you can also mix the compote into oatmeal instead of using quinoa. Quick-cook, steel-cut oatmeal cooks in the microwave in about 2 1/2 minutes, so it’s pretty convenient, too. Then, perhaps over time, graduate to 1/2 oatmeal and 1/2 quinoa. Then finally to just quinoa, which is better for you in many ways than oatmeal (lower glycemic index, more protein, more fiber, etc). Or, hell, just do this breakfast using oatmeal every now and then for a change of pace! Variety is the spice of life, right? Okay, back to the quinoa, though:

  1. Dump 1 cup of quinoa into your saucepan (note that some brands of quinoa recommend rinsing it first. If that’s the case rinse your cup of quinoa in a strainer, then dump it into your saucepan).
  2. Add in 2 cups of water (like cooking rice, Quinoa just takes a 1:2 quinoa:water ratio).
  3. Optionally, add in a pat of healthy butter from grass-fed cattle (e.g., Kerry Irish Butter).
  4. Bring to a boil, cover, lower to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

Step 3.

Allow your quinoa and compote to cool. Then stick each separately into tupperware containers.  That’s it. You’re prepped and ready to eat healthy all week long!

Your Weekday Rush-Around-And-Out-The-Door Breakfast

Grab a bowl. Toss in about a 1/3 to 1/2 cup or so of your pre-prepped quinoa. Add in about the same amount of your peach compote (vary the ratio to suit your preference). Add in your optional nuts and/or trail mix — these give this bowl o’ goodness a more varied, interesting mix of textures, which I really like. Heat the whole thing in the microwave for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Voila! You have a healthy breakfast that’s a helluva lot better for you than the pre-packaged crap being sold throughout most of your breakfast store’s frozen breakfast section. And it’s just as fast to prep on a weekday when you’re rushing around before work.

If you’re feeling froggy, add in some fresh blueberries. And/or strawberries. Get creative.

P.S. I like to alternate this meal occasionally with a breakfast of fried eggs over a piece of whole-grain toast; or occasionally scrambled eggs, onto which I put some salsa. To either of these I like to add 1/4 or 1/2 of an avocado on the side, sometimes with a couple marinated artichoke heart quarters. Sprinkle it all with a little salt and pepper and go to town! Yum!

Hope you enjoy your evolving, healthier bod!


Home is where the heart …gets healthy again!

For me, it’s always great to get back home from a trip. We had a wonderful time …but of course, like people often do,  while touring Italy I allowed the excuses of “vacationing” and “environment” for a solid week of lazy exercise and detrimental dietary choices.

Unsurprisingly, Italian food, commonly served in 3- or 4-course meals, always with wine (and desert!)(at least on the group tour we took, where many of the meals were pre-ordered for us) created an easy +5lbs in 9 days. Because, “Hey, everyone else is ordering that way!” It’s ridiculous how easy it is for me to fall back into nom nom nomming foods that reinvigorate those American-bred, fattening, aging, sugar and wheat addictions! It’d be easy to shift blame to those childhood “clean your plate!” instructions, but let’s face it: If I claim sentience I also have to accept responsibility for the food I shovel into my pasta hole!

So I always feel that one of the best parts about coming home from a trip is resuming the healthy lifestyle that is too often the first casualty of world travel. That feeling made this recent post by Rohan Rajiv, whose blog I follow, resonate this morning (@4am, because of course my I’m still recovering from a week on European time!):

Your environment versus your willpower

You can find his post at:

Now I’m looking forward to a short run and a mindful breakfast!