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feel good food that's good for you

quinoa and lentil egg breakfastPadding down the stairs, slippered and pajama-ed, with dark circles where blue eyes should be, Rachel does not catch my eager eye. Studiously avoiding me as she heads for her bathroom, she greets my overbearingly soprano, “good morning” with the contempt it deserves. A ‘humph’ I think. The bathroom door closes hard, the shower runs, the radio – normally blaring tinny pop – is silent.This was Tuesday.

It was going to be a long week.

It is the last week of the last exams of school for her, you see. Nearly two months of non-stop studying has rendered my normally very upbeat 18-year old a tired and pale version of the one who bounds down the stairs of a morning.

Monday’s exam had been and gone. A set of two-hour papers was shortly to be in the hands of anonymous examiners, who wouldn’t know how hard she has worked – with a few tear-stained notebooks as punctuation – and would only be judging her on this infinitesimal snapshot. I so dislike this do-or-die exam system, but you gotta play the game to get into university or college. It sucks really. But it is as it is and thousands of others are in exactly the same boat, their future hinging on how you performed on that one day. That one set of papers that may or may not jive with what you managed to screw tightly into your brain.

But the end is in sight. This morning, a newly energised and sparkling of eye Rachel descended the stair, uniformed up for the final time. I took in her straight back (it had been hunched over piles of papers and books for weeks on end), brushed hair, and most of all her genuine smile. She’s back, I said to myself in relief. Or perhaps I said it out loud.

quinoa and lentil egg breakfast

a Rachel’s eye view of her breakfast

This breakfast got my baby to smile on Tuesday. It didn’t last awfully long. The books and stacks of papers dotted around the house still waited. But as we sat chatting amiably, forking spiced lentils and quinoa into our mouths a sense of calm descended. We even watched the birds fly in and out of the garden, blue tits and sparrows looking in vain – and disgust – at our empty feeders.

protein at breakfast - my saviour

protein at breakfast – my saviour

And perhaps our breakfast made us both more bearable to live with too. Neither of us can get away with just toast or cereal. Oh were it that easy. Nope, it’s got to be nuts, seeds, nut butter, cheese, fish (yes, really), yogurt, chia seeds, or eggs. Or lentils. At least occasionally. For both of us, protein at breakfast not only ensures that we resist the temptation to snack mid-morning (although that is by no means fool-proof; I am easily-lead) it also makes us nicer people. People with even blood sugar levels, stretched out energy, revved up metabolism.

I make versions of this fairly frequently if I have a morning off, or a late start. It is probably not a weekday on the go kind of breakfast. But if you have time – 15 minutes or so and everything to hand – our cheering and satisfying breakfast may just make you smile too. Or better still, someone else.

PS the photos are a bit dire but I hope you get the idea. It was a dark morning and as we were eating this straight away I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to fiddle about with my camera. A couple of shots are from my phone.

quinoa and lentil egg breakfast

Baharat Quinoa and Black Lentil Eggy Breakfast (Lunch or Supper!)

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Keep this easy by using pre-cooked lentils and quinoa – either leftovers or from a quality packet, such as Merchant Gourmet. I’ve added the vegetables that I had to hand, but use anything you like to add even more nutrients and taste to your morning.

This is one of those bash it together dishes that doesn’t rely on precision, so although I’ve included measurements just use my measurements as a rough guide. As for the egg, although this is non-negotiable for us, there is plenty of protein even without.

250g cooked black beluga lentils or other firm lentils

250g cooked quinoa

4 tbsp Greek yogurt or non-dairy yogurt

Squirt of lemon

2 tsp olive oil or rapeseed oil

4 spring/green onions, trimmed and sliced

8 chestnut/brown mushrooms, sliced

1 deseeded chili, thinly sliced

1  tsp baharat spice mix (here’s my recipe, but bought is fine of course) or other Lebanese/Middle Eastern spice mix (these are aromatic; not at all hot), divided use (keep more to hand in case you think it needs more)

1 tsp fennel seeds, pan-toasted until fragrant (about one minute) then crushed in pestle and mortar

200g baby spinach or other soft greens

2 organic eggs – optional

Extra toasted fennel seeds for garnish

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Mix the lentils and quinoa together and heat gently by your preferred method, adding a little water if you are doing it on the hob/stovetop. Set aside, covered.

2. In a small bowl, mix ¼ tsp of baharat mix, a pinch of salt (if the spices aren’t seasoned) and a dash of lemon juice. Stir and taste, adjusting as needed. Set aside.

3. Add the oil to a sauté pan and over a low-medium flame sauté the spring onions, mushrooms and chilli, just until the mushrooms release their liquid. Stir in the remaining ¾ tsp of the spice mix, as well as the fennel seeds and stir fry for a couple of minutes to cook the spices. Lightly mix this into the quinoa and lentils (or the other way around). Cover and set aside.

4. Rinse the spinach or other greens you are using and with the water that clings, heat in a covered pan on a low heat until the spinach wilts. Pop the spinach into a sieve and drain, pressing the spinach with a large spoon or spatula to get rid of the water. You could also use raw but well-rinsed spinach.

5. Cook your eggs as you like. We like poached eggs, but of course have a fried egg if you like. Even scrambled.

6. To eat, dollop half of the spinach onto each plate, followed by half of the lentil and quinoa mix, top with the egg and spoon some yogurt on the side. Enjoy x

Soft Food Diet: finely chop the spinach or blend in a mini food processor; finely chop all vegetables if using, and mash the lentils and quinoa if needed; omit any whole spices.

This recipe is also dedicated to Deena. She knows why 😉

Track of the week is Gezelling by Edinburgh’s own, OK Social Club

 

 

 

 

50 thoughts on “Baharat Quinoa, Lentils and Eggy Breakfast (or Lunch or Supper!)

  1. My son is in the midst of GCSEs so I know what exactly what it’s like! MARE! These exams are broken up and spread out over such a long period of time that there just seems to be no end in sight. Your brekkie looks fabulous and I love the peep of the slippered foot too! Best of luck to Rachel x

    1. Thank you, Selma. I know they need testing. I really do. But the strain of weeks and weeks of study leave pushes even the most sane young adult to breaking point. Not to mention their parents! Good luck to your son – and to you too 😉

  2. So glad to hear the marathon of studying is coming to a close soon. Such a tough time for them. I have just started enjoying quinoa – I like that you have (as always) created an interesting and delicious looking fusion between a south american grain and middle eastern spice! am sure it is wonderful and a great brunch idea.

    1. Cheers, Nazima. It really is my most used grain/pseudo seed. I often make large quantities and pop extras in freezer bags – 100g lots. So useful at the end of a long day. But the pouch stuff is super great for really last minute meals.

  3. Deena Kakaya says:

    Oh Kellie, this post reminds me of me and my dad. He would make me eggs with spiced veg and toasts and maybe channa dhal. It wasn’t near as glamorous as what you’ve made your studious Rachel, but what lovely memories. I bet you and Rachel are so proud of each other xx

    1. AW, I bet your Dad’s truly authentic channa dal eggs and veg were treasured meals for you, as your comfort meals for your boy will be as he grows older (and may or may not let you know that he appreciates them!).

  4. What a lovely post, from the heart felt story of the little bits of letting go while we watch our children growing up, no matter their age. To the healthy boost of energy we all need to begin out busy days. A fantastic recipe!

    1. Thank you Deb. It is from the heart, and I am very lucky that Rachel appreciates most of my efforts in the kitchen. She is like me though, a real breakfast-bird. We need our protein-rich grub first thing or we are a nightmare to be around! This recipe is a favourite, as are our variations

  5. Tracey says:

    I love your ranting posts most of all but I also love seeing these posts where you share a glimpse of your every day life. I meant to comment on your Mediterranean Diet in a pill post but I didn’t get back to it. There’s no end to the “nutritional ignorance” and pharmo solutions for lifestyle illnesses. Now if there was an exercise pill I might buy that. Ha ha. My oldest son just graduated from Med School and I still worry about his stress. Best of luck to your daughter. Be well.

    1. Barbara says:

      “There’s no end to the “nutritional ignorance” and pharmo solutions for lifestyle illnesses. Now if there was an exercise pill I might buy that. Ha ha”
      Tracey, your words sound so true for me;) Especially about this exercise pill LOL I try to educate myslef about proper nutrition using sites like http://happyforks.com/ (to check if my diet is nutritionally adequate) or nutritionfacts.org (to learn as much as I can about clinical nutrition and chronic diseases). So my diet is nearly perfect but those exercise… At least I try once in a while haha
      Barb

      1. Thanks for these links for my readers. And I am with Tracey on the exercise pill. But this admittance will no doubt water down my hard-core anti Pharma stance. 😉

    2. I would LOVE an exercise pill too. Either that it happily compelled me to make more time for it or, better still, imitated its healthy effects on the body and mental state. What a hypocrite I am! I don’t want nutrition in a pill but exercise, yes please! That will have something to do with living in Scotland 😉

      1. Barbara says:

        I know many people who exercise regularly but can’t even imagine to eat the way I eat, they think they eat healthy cause they eat some fruits or veggies from time to time;). I hope I’d be able to buy treadmill – know I don’t have money and room for it, but it won’t last forever:) I used to have exercise equipment some time ago and it really helped me – I was very fit. I just can’t force myself to exercise outside home – jogging in park, going to swimmingpool – It’s not for me. At least I walk often and I don’t have sedentary job:)

      2. Walking and generally moving around really count, at least as far as an cancer and heart disease prevention goes. I have those physiothera[y resistance bands that can be used on a pulley system attached to a door. It’s really good too and very versatile. I had to do it for rehab of a shoulder operation and occasionally dig it out for a session. Really tiring! It’s not aerobic, but now that I am properly middle aged muscle strength is just as important as aerobic fitness. Keep well!

      3. Barbara says:

        I forgot about running up and down on the stairs! I do it sometimes when I feel I just have to move more – it takes onle few minutes and I am really tired. I’ve heard that Madonna does it;) Stairs are almost home;) I never met neighbor during such exercie.

      4. I do that too! I really should get one of those Jawbone thingies and clock up how much I really do. I like to exercise in private too. Need a better bra to do so publicly 😉

  6. Beluga lentils, runny egg, baharat… all in salad form. YUM!

  7. Goodness I wish I’d fueled all my school and university exams with something more than a bowl of frosties. Thankfully those days are long gone and the fabulous savory protein breakfasts see me through life and all it’s challenges now. Super Mum! Super breakfast. Hope the results are all that’s deserved for hard work!! X

    1. I was worse than Frosties I think as I had to get the bus so early – 5.45 – that I made do with Carnation Instant Breakfast! Actually it tasted quite nice, but… Thankfully more time now to eat what really fuels me. Even those who get by just fine on carbs of a morning will always feel more energised if they protein that meal up. IT is ALWAYS worth the effort to have a sustaining and nutritious first meal of the day. Preaching to the choir though! PS Rachel has accepted an unconditional offer to St Andrews to read Anthropology, so although she wanted to do her best in the exams, I don’t think they really count for her. She has a great work ethic, which is reassuring to see.

      1. .. and i do love to be in that choir 🙂

      2. Indeed. It is a lovely choir. 🙂 And thanks about Rachel. I think she is pretty ready to fly the nest :/

      3. AND massive congrats to Rachel!

  8. What a great idea!!! I can’t wait to try it out!!

  9. What a wonderful dish for any time of the day, I love the photo on Rachel’s lap with the egg broken over the top, and of course the inclusion of baharat 🙂 yum!
    I hope Rachel is doing okay and managing to crash out and celebrate this weekend in the knowledge it’s all over, I’ve got all this to come…:( x

    1. Hi Elaine. Sorry I am just getting to these comments – crazy weekend. Thanks you for your kind words. Rachel and I love the same foods (and hubby too) so it makes it so easy to feed them. I am very lucky. It sounds like your Ben is the same. As for Rache’s end of exams frolics, she’s going out clubbing tonight – Sunday night! I didn’t know you could do such things 😉 Anyway, she is also very fortunate that she has accepted an unconditional offer from St Andrews to read Anthropology, but she wanted to do her best in the exams. I’m very proud that she didn’t just coast these last two months.

      1. How wonderful, she sounds lovely and conscientious – just like her Mum! Clubbing on a Sunday night hey…that sounds pretty hard core to me! I’ll probably be in bed before she’s even gone out!!!

      2. Me too! She is going out after work (she works front of house for a pizza delivery place – a really good one with their own homemade dough etc, not a chain one), changing in the loo before her Dad picks her up and ferries her and a friend into town. To be fair to her, it is an 18th birthday at a club or she might not be as tempted. We have our own version of club night occasionally, with her choosing some great tunes and me doing embarrassing mom dancing in the kitchen. I am surprised I am not a laughing stock on Youtube!

      3. Ha ha!! We do the same – during the afternoon!

      4. Just don’t let Ben ‘Snapchat story’ you (don’t ask) or video you for Youtube. Or, maybe you are great dancer and the revenues could fund your business! The only money I could make is on YBF 😉

  10. Quinoa and black beluga lentils with a Middle-Eastern flavor profile….hmm, what better mix could there be?! Looks delicious and certainly a good way to cheer us all up. Glad exams are over and good luck with scores!

    1. Thanks so much, Katie. We love this kind of breakfast and I almost didn’t blog it because it isn’t terribly photogenic. But the flavours and nutrition trump the looks. It is just for glowing on the inside, not on the plate 😉

  11. Reblogged this on Down the Rabbit Hole and commented:
    The little joys we experience can curb the big troubles of the day. This sweet and observant mother sees that a delicious and healthy dish not only feeds nourishment to the body, but the quality time it brings about, feeds rest to the soul. Remember the little things today and you’ll do fine.

  12. narf77 says:

    Another delicious recipe with or without that egg and heres fingers crossed for Miss R’s exams 🙂

    1. No egg is just fine and dandy. Could even slug on some lemony garlic sauce. 101 uses for lemony garlic sauce. I feel a post coming on!

      1. narf77 says:

        I reckon I could just chug that lemony garlic sauce straight out of the serving jug it looks that delicious…but I fear as healthy as it is, mainlining lemony garlic sauce me end up in tears…

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  14. maggigonza says:

    Es una exquisitez.
    Nosotros la almorzaríamos, ya que desayunamos distinto. saludos de Argentina.

    1. Thanks so much. I’m glad you like it 🙂

  15. This looks like a fab breakfast! I’m normally a breakfast on the go person (sipping my smoothie at my desk at work and all) but on weekends or a breakfast for dinner situation this would be perfect. I love the idea of the lentils and quinoa together with greens and egg. What a nutritional power punch! Also – I noticed your recipes are printable now. Is this new? How are you doing this?

    1. Well, I love the look and sound of all of your Instagrammed smoothies and their cute jars. What do your health conscious colleagues eat for breakfast? Do they bring it in like you? Often we will have smoothies (a small glass) as well as something else, but with breakfast like this a smoothie would be overload. It is super-filling and great for changing up as you see fit. Rachel usually puts Sriracha on most any brekkie of this kind. I try not to be insulted! Oh, as far as the printable thing, it is a shortcode that I got from wordpress. I missed it when it was first posted but saw it on someone else’s and, like you, was interested. Super easy too. Here is the link: http://en.support.wordpress.com/shortcodes/recipes/ I do miss my big ol H1 headline for the recipe though. The new style one is tiny! Hope it works the same as H1 for SEO…

      1. Interesting, I’ll check it out! Though I am moving to a self hosted platform this month (hold me!) so it may not be necessary.

        My office actually supplies breakfast, so most people come early and eat at the office. I’m the only weirdo who schelpps in their own supplies. We get fresh bread delivered daily, and there are fridges full of cheese, meats, cucumbers, and peppers, which make up the typical Swedish breakfast. There is also museli, a good selection of yoghurt, and abundant fruit bowls. I do my best to stay away from the bread most days, but you know, fresh delivered Swedish bread… I’m only so strong.

      2. Oh yes, I remember you mentioning that in a post or a comment I think. I remember you saying about the delectable and tempting Swedish breads. I hope you have them every once in a while so I know you are human and not a perfect nutrition goddess on a pedestal of kale leaves. Just joking 😉 You are a nutrition goddess (and soon to be dr goddess!) regardless. I still remember the crisp breads you sent, so I can only imagine how wonderful the actually chewy bread is…

  16. First off, yummy, scrumptious breakfast! I think I actually have everything on hand (need to check your spice mix though). Second, you are really scaring me for the “exam years” ahead!!! My Miss SiSi is only getting easy to finish 7th grade, her first year with actual finals, and she’s already sulking a little. I simply can not imagine her getting ready to graduate from high school. Glad things are looking up for you!! Sending sunshine and smiles your way 🙂

    1. Plenty of time, but yes it is stressful for all in the family. I feel for anyone with twins! PS Any favourite Middle Eastern spice mix would go with this, or even just the cumin and coriander. Thanks for dropping by, EA. I like the new way to ‘enter’ your blog from email, btw. 😉

  17. healthracer says:

    I love lentils! This looks delicious, I can’t wait to try it!

  18. Bella says:

    I tried this the other day for a pre-workout brekkie except I didn’t have things to make the baharat spice mix, so used Harissa paste. Was seriously tasty and has sparked a fascination with Harissa. Also noticed that it kept me energised and full of zing for my sprint-based workout with no stitches! Woohoo! Winner!

  19. Oooh, this is my perfect breakfast. Brilliant.

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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