These breakfasts are delicious, good for you, and easy to make. I've been making them for the past several years and haven't got tired of them yet. If you are looking for a place to cut food costs, this is an easy way to do it: bulk grain cereals are cheap compared to box cereals.
The recipes in this lineup are so simple that it takes almost no time to prepare them. Yet it is exactly the kind of information that most of us don't have. If you are like me, you grew up mostly eating boxed cereal for breakfast. It took too long for me to figure out how easy and fast it is to eat well. To help others learn the joy and healthy lifestyle that whole grain cereals can promote, I provide a primer on basic cereal making.
All of the following recipes except for the Baked Oatmeal are based on those by Debra Madison. Her book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone includes close variants of most of the recipes below.
The beauty of this meal is that it cooks overnight.
- 5 cups of water
- 1 3/4 cups of Irish (steel-cut) oats
Bring water to a boil. Add oats and 1/2 tsp of salt. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cover, turn off the heat. When you wake up in the morning, the oats will be done and ready to be warmed in the microwave or on the stove.
- Any fresh fruit (mangos, bananas, strawberries, etc) or dried fruit (raisins, dates, etc)
- Cinnamon and/or nutmeg
- Milk (whole of course). If you have some around, try dribbling a little cream on top.
- Maple syrup (only really need if not using fruit)
Cornmeal with Vanilla and Molasses
If you have a double-boiler, use it for this cereal as it prevents the need to stir and check. It will work fine to use a regular pan, but you will need to keep an eye on it.
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
- 2 tsps of vanilla
If using a regular pan, add cornmeal to boiling water, along with a few pinches of salt. (If you are using a double-boiler, just add the water and cornmeal at the same time.) Cook until thickened.
When done, stir in a little butter and vanilla. Top with a little un-sulphured molasses.
Millet Porridge with Raisins
My son's favorite! Seriously. He gets upset if he can't have this at least once a week. Oh if you insist, son.
- 6 cups of water
- 1 cup of millet
- 1/4 tsp salt
Rinse the millet. Add millet to water. Add a handful of raisins and salt. Cook until done. Stir in a little butter or yogurt or sour cream or cream.
You probably know this by the name Cream of Wheat. You can buy it bulk as Farina. Bulk farina tends to be a little heavier than Cream of Wheat. I prefer it that way. If you have a double-boiler, use it for this cereal as it prevents the need to stir and check. It will work fine to use a regular pan, but you will need to keep an eye on it. Otherwise, you will lose some of your saved time, cleaning the pan.
*4 cups milk (whole for best flavor)
*1 cup farina
Add farina to milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Perfect as is. No need to top with anything.
9 grain cereal
You'll find 4 grain, 6 grain, 9 grain cereal, etc. They all work the same way. These cereals reside in the bulk aisle or in the section containing Bob's Mill brand.
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cups of 9 grain cereal
Add cereal to water. Simmer until thickened. Not required, but it tastes great when cooked with apple slices or raisins. You can use the same types of toppings as for Irish oatmeal.
For whatever reason, this is not my kids' favorite. Some people find the consistency unappealing. I love it though.
- 3 cups of water
- 1 cup of amaranth
Combine the water, amaranth, and a pinch of salt in a pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for about 25 minutes. The mixture will be fairly glutinous when done. Top with honey.
I typically prep this on Sunday night and bake it Monday morning while I'm working out. That said, this easily could serve as a "fancy" weekend breakfast. (In fact, this was a typical weekend dish until I figured out a way to speed up the prep; see below.) People who don't traditionally like oatmeal tend to like this dish.
- 2 sliced bananas (or other substantive fruit such as apples or pears)
- 1.5 cups fresh berries (can substitute other fruit but it really is delicious with blueberries or strawberries)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Toasted walnuts (optional): if you have some, add about 1/2 cup. However, I typically don't have any already toasted on hand and typically omit them.
Preheat oven to 375 °F. Butter the inside of 8 inch baking dish (approximate - really any size dish will work!) Cover with cut bananas and 2/3 berries. In a bowl mix oats, half of walnuts (if using), baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add to baking dish. In another bowl, add milk, egg, butter, and vanilla. Pour slowly into baking dish. You can either cook immediately or refrigerate and cook in the morning.
Bake for 45 minutes.
This recipe is derived from Heidi Swanson (Super Natural Every Day).
Hint: I typically make a bulk batch of all the dry ingredients for baked oatmeal (i.e., I triple or quadruple the dry ingredients above). Then when it is time to make it, I just scoop out X and add the wet ingredients. Doing this cuts down the prep time considerably.
A Suggestion for Buying Bulk Cereals
So you find you like eating grain cereals? I highly recommend Azure Standard as the place to buy them. They deliver once a month to a location near you. The only barrier is calling them to find out the code for your local drop-off. (Seriously? Put it online!) It's well worth the effort, though.