I’ve been waking up on so many dreary winter days to find that the sun has been blotted out by clouds, and icicles outnumber people outside. On these days, it takes a lot to force a snug sleeper out of bed. Even though breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, most easy options simply can’t compete with a set of soft, warm blankets. Unquestionably, it’s all about staying warm around this time of year. When the mercury drops below the 20’s, the usual offerings of cold cereal or chilled yogurt are simply out of the question. The easy answer is often instant oatmeal, easily prepared even before the coffee has kicked in and cleared up a hazy mind; it’s hot, filling, and comforting. Without those soft, sweet oats, I don’t know what I’d do- And for those who can’t digest most commercial oats, that dilemma is all too real. Luckily, a diagnosis of Celiac’s disease is far from a culinary death sentence, and there are plenty of other tasty grains that could make one mean morning meal. Take for instance, instant quinoa cereal, like that made by AltiPlano Gold.
Offering up five different varieties that sound just like any of the other tasty options one might find on grocery store shelves, I was lucky enough to get my paws on three of those flavors. Each comes in boxes of 12 individual packets, ready go at a moment’s notice and cooked up in a mere 60 seconds- Even my speedy instant oatmeal can’t match that!
Starting out with the flavor most familiar to me, my go-to combination, I dumped the powdery contents of one Spiced Apple Raisin packet into my bowl and heated the water separately, as instructed. After some micro-love, in went the boiling water, and the 60 second countdown began. At first, a watery, soupy mix stared back at me from the depths of my bowl, but almost like magic, it soon thickened into a sturdy porridge. While admittedly not the most photogenic meal, the smell of spice was in the air and I couldn’t wait to dig in.
Mostly smooth but with the occasional sensation of grittiness across the tongue, the texture of the cereal on its own leaves a bit to be desired. I couldn’t help but feel like I was eating baby food after a few spoonfuls, as it was pretty much the definition of “mush.” Thankfully, the addition of some nice chewy raisins and chunks of apple save this concoction by offering up some much needed contrasting texture. Lightly sweetened to a pleasing degree (nothing to start you bouncing off the walls first thing in the morning), I would have been extremely happy with the flavor… If not for the startling lack of spice. Sure, I do like good amount of cinnamon in my food (read: TONS) so this might be the perfect amount for someone who’s a bit more spice-shy. A few quick shakes of my handy cinnamon jar and this was a perfectly palatable breakfast.
When I saw that a envelope of Almond Chai was included in my sample pack, I could hardly contain my excitement. I love, love chai in just about anything- cakes, cookies, or plain old tea- chai is a flavor that makes my taste buds sing. Never before had I even thought of using this delightful combination of spices in a hot cereal, so I was quite curious to see how it was interpreted by AntiPlano Gold.
Mulling over my first bite, the flavors of chai didn’t exactly punch me in the face and make themselves known, but they still were definitely present in a mellow, agreeable tone. The big surprise here were the almonds- While I had originally written them off as the token add-in, they really brought a lot of wonderful crunch and nutty flavor to the party. Ultimately, when I went back and sampled all three flavors one last time, this one came out on the top of my list.
Finally, I was left with one dubious-sounding offering- Oaxacan Chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having chocolate for breakfast, but trying to incorporate it into a “real” meal and calling it healthy backfires all too often. Still, I wanted to give this a fair shot and an unbiased review, so I put those initial thoughts behind and spooned up a big serving of this controversial quinoa.
As with the previous varieties, the flavoring was fairly mild; Definitely a “cocoa” taste as opposed to a rounded, rich “chocolate” taste. Thankfully, I’m usually not in the mood for something crazy decadent that early in the morning, so this suited me just fine, although it might disappoint some sugar-fiends or younger kids. Unarguably heartier than a slice of chocolate cake, the flavor really grew on me as I ate it, and I had to admit, it was quite delicious! This is certainly a healthier way of thinking about “hot chocolate!”
For anyone who’s looking for just another oatmeal alternative, this might not be for you. However, if you want a hot breakfast option that’s in a whole different category, definitely give this flavored quinoa a try. When it’s all said and done, these wee little packets made for a seriously hearty meal and kept me full all morning. Much healthier than most commercial instant oatmeal as well, substituting some quinoa could help you sneak a bit more protein into your routine. For those with severe gluten intolerance or just the health nuts among us, AltiPlano can keep you satisfied throughout those cold winter days.
[Written for Go Dairy Free]