Dec 18, 2013

Winter Wake Up!

Eating the right food for breakfast will get your day off to a great start. Not only will it jumpstart your metabolism, you will have energy to spare until you get to lunch. Wintertime is especially hard on your body so eating a good breakfast packed with essential nutrients can help boost your immune system.

One of the best options for breakfast on a cold winter morning is hot cereal. Around the world hot cereal is a staple for breakfast with each cuisine giving it a unique name as well as a local twist.

Whether you prefer porridge, oatmeal, muesli, cream of wheat, mamaliga, polenta or grits depends on what part of the world you grew up in. They are all based on raw grains that are cooked in liquids like water or milk and eaten hot.

Some hot cereals are par cooked so they are ready in just seconds. These are known as “instant cereal” and are more processed and have less of the original nutrients found in these grains. They also have more sugar and preservatives.

Those that you cook may be based on one or more of the following grains:

Whole wheat--a good source of fiber as well as calcium, iron, phosphorus and other minerals, and contains several vitamins, including folate and riboflavin
Rye--contains fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals
Barley --dietary fiber and lots of minerals
Triticale--dietary fiber and potassium
Flaxseed--the most widely available plant source of omega-3
Soybeans--protein, calcium, iron and fiber
Millet --an excellent source of dietary fiber

Others are eaten raw like muesli.  It is based on uncooked rolled and dried fruits, nuts, and mixed with milk, soy milk and yogurt or fruit juice.

You can also use kasha or buckwheat, cracked wheat and quinoa for breakfast cereals. You can find these ingredients in many well-stocked groceries or health food shops.

You can prepare your own mix of hot cereal according to your taste.  Adding your favorite seeds or spices keeps it from getting boring.

Instant Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

This hearty cereal is as quick and simple as it gets. Quick oats have the same nutritional value as regular oats but they’ve been par-boiled so they cook faster.

8 cups quick oats

1 ½ cups powdered milk (Ko-sure brand is available)

½ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 cup dried apple pieces

½ cup dried cranberries

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt (optional but adds flavor)

1 teaspoon ginger

Combine all the ingredients in a large container and store in a cool, dry location.

For one serving, pour ½ cup of the mixture in a bowl. Add enough water to cover the cereal, about ½ to ¾ cup. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the oatmeal has absorbed most of the water. Serve with more milk if you prefer.

If your kids are accustomed to brightly colored cereal that comes from a box, you might need to do some marketing to win them over to hot cereals. Try a “create your own” cereal bar. Offer bowls of fresh cut fruit, dried fruit and a sweetener like honey or maple syrup. Try some crunchy nuts and seeds like chopped pecans or walnuts and slivered almonds or sunflower seeds. Try cinnamon and cloves—they make things taste warm and friendly.

Brown Sugar Banana Oatmeal

2 cups fat-free milk

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 large ripe banana, sliced

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil; stir in oats. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the banana, brown sugar, honey and cinnamon. Divide among three serving bowls. Serve with additional milk and cinnamon if desired. Yield: 3 servings.

Honey Quinoa Hot Cereal

No need to stick with oats for breakfast!

2 cups milk or soymilk

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

3 tablespoons honey, plus extra for serving

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup blueberries, chopped strawberries or nectarines, or a mix, plus extra for serving

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk just to a boil.

Stir in the quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until at least half of the milk is absorbed and the quinoa begins to turn translucent, about 13 to 15 minutes.

Stir in the honey and cinnamon, and continue to cook for about 5 to 8 minutes or until the quinoa is translucent and a small whitish ring is visible around the grains.

Fold in the fruit and cook until it is warmed through, about 30 to 60 seconds.

Spoon the quinoa into bowls and serve with additional honey and fruit, if desired.


If you’re ready to experiment with other grains this recipe is for you. You can purchase these ingredients in a well-stocked grocery or health food store.

 1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen

2 oranges, peeled and segmented

2 cups apple juice

1 cup cracked wheat or bulgur

1/2 cup soy flakes

1/2 cup buckwheat kasha

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add cranberries and 2 tablespoons water. Cook until cranberries soften and release their juices, about 2 minutes. Stir in orange segments. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Bring apple juice and 3 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add cracked wheat, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add soy flakes, and cook, covered, 5 minutes more. Add kasha, and cook, covered, 10 minutes more. Uncover, and cook 5 minutes to let excess liquid evaporate. Spoon cereal into individual bowls. Add hazelnuts and fruit on top. Serve hot.






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