Happy New Year dear readers! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday and that you’ve started 2011 on the right foot. If not, I’m always here to help 😉
My big goal for this year is to improve my breakfast routine. Somehow over the last few months I’ve gotten really lazy in the morning, eating copious amounts of the freshly baked bread at work (I still love you), or grabbing a piece of fruit on the go. Either way, I know it’s one place in my diet that could use some improvement.
One of the most popular foods on the breakfast table in this country is boxed cereal. It’s fast, convenient, moderately filling and inexpensive – I can see the appeal. But cereal that comes in a package with a cartoon tiger on the front is a far cry from the actual grains that were used to make it. Even the definition of the word cereal, which actually refers to the group of grains as a whole, has gone from a natural whole food, to a barely recognizable distant relative with an underwhelming nutrient content that has surely suffered from over processing. Don’t even get me started on all that sugar.
It’s time for a change, don’t you agree?
Cereal Extreme Makeover
I’ve come up with the perfect breakfast solution for those of you who “just don’t have time in the morning”, because you can make a huge batch in one go, dole out the amount you want every day and simply add the toppings you have on hand. It’s the Real Deal Cereal and it’s so simple! The ingredients are inexpensive, easy to find, and of course, delicious.
I chose a quinoa and millet combination because both are gluten-free grains, and we could all stand to take a break from our wheat-centric diets. Hooray for variety! Remember that quinoa is a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, and a complete protein. Millet is considered to be one of the least allergenic and most digestible grains available, plus it’s loaded with B-vitamins, phosphorous and potassium. Appropriately, both are warming grains so will help to heat the body during the cold winter months ahead. Indeed.
You can use any kind of grains to make your breakfast cereal base, but choose grains with relatively similar cooking times. Brown rice, for example, takes about 50 minutes to cook, so it would be best paired with rye or spelt. Amaranth and buckwheat are another excellent gluten-free combo that take about 15 minutes to cook. Experiment with various mixtures that suit your tastes, and change it up from week to week. You can always cook and eat your favorite grain all on its own, but I prefer the range of flavours and textures when they are combined in the same pot.
Once cooked, store your cooled grain mix in an airtight container in the fridge for five days. I make my mix on lazy Sunday nights, so I have breakfast for the entire work week. It takes about 3-4 minutes to assemble in the morning, and I’m good to go. You can even keep your re-heated grain mix in a thermos to enjoy at work and add your toppings there.
No more bread, bagel, danish, doughnut binges! No more packaged, processed, frosted, freaky cereal! No more excuses! Let’s do it.
The Real Deal Cereal
Grain Mix Base
1 cup quinoa
1 cup millet
4 ½ cups water
pinch of sea salt
1. Rinse grains very well. Place in saucepan. Add water and salt.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
3. Let cool slightly. Store in a container in the fridge.
For each portion:
1 cup cooked grain mix (½ cup for kids)
¼ cup water or milk (rice, almond, hemp, soy, dairy…)
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
generous pinch ground ginger
fresh or frozen fruit
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. chia seeds – Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fibre, calcium
1 Tbsp. hemp seeds – Omega-3 + Omega-6 fatty acids, protein
handful chopped nuts, such as pecans and walnuts
dollop of yogurt (sugar free)
1. Measure out one cup of the cooked grain mix and place in a small saucepan with the water or milk. Heat over medium heat until warmed through. Add fruit if frozen, warm until fully thawed. Remove form heat.
2. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, and chia and hemp seeds if you have them.
3. Place grain mix in a bowl, drizzle with maple syrup, add nuts and chopped fresh fruit, plus a dollop of yogurt, if desired.
I truly hope that this recipe and new system works for you and your family. A healthy start to the day is the best gift you can give yourself, and that does NOT include Count Chocula, Cap’n Crunch, or that weird little leprechaun, if you know what I mean.