When I mention ‘porridge’ to you, what comes to mind? Beyond Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears, likely a bowl full of stiff oatmeal or possibly lumpy Cream of Wheat (if you grew up in the same era as I did…mine was always lumpy for some reason).
Breakfast offers such a great opportunity for us to eat more whole grains (packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals such as magnesium). Sadly, many people have moved away from including whole grains in their meals as ‘carbs’ have been dragged through the mud thanks to a number of fad diets. Knowing this, I wanted to expand my repertoire of grains, which was easy for me to do when I simply opened my eyes at Nature’s Fare Markets in the cereal aisle. They have every grain known to mankind, I swear! A total dietitian’s dream.
I’m bringing sexy back to hot cereals with fifteen different ideas to spice up your breakfast including some healthy delicious toppings and a handful of new hot cereal grains for you to experiment with. Ok, maybe that’s a stretch (how sexy can a hot cereal get), but try at least one new topping or cereal that you haven’t explored yet and let me know what you think in the comments below. Nature’s Fare Markets had SO many cool grains that I’m going to keep on experimenting with, and I found some serious inspiration for new cereal toppings in their fresh produce and dried foods section. You’ll see what I mean if you happen to have a store near you.
I’d love to hear from you if you have a great cereal or topping that others need to know about! Add your favourite milk at your discretion of course, and if you’re in a rush just put it in a small thermos like the one below and eat at your destination. Beats a drive-through breakfast ANY day!
Live on the edge and try a new grain for your next hot breakfast. These make one large serving except where indicated in the recipe, here are some of my favs!
Freekeh (aka my new BFF)
- Nutrition: Move over quinoa there’s a new kid in town! Serving for serving, freekeh has more protein and twice as much fiber as quinoa and is rich in vitamins and minerals thanks to being harvested when green (young). BUT it’s not gluten-free. Whew, says quinoa!
- Cooking Directions: Bring 2 1/2 c. of water and a pinch of salt to a simmer on medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add 1 c. of freekeh and cook on medium low heat for approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cereal is tender and creamy. Makes a couple of servings but reheats beautifully!
- Suggested Topping: Fresh or frozen blueberries with your favourite milk and a sprinkle of hemp seeds or a dash of cinnamon.
- Nutrition: A distant relative of wheat, spelt is a great source of manganese, high in dietary fiber (30% of your daily requirement in a cup), and a good source of protein.
- Bring 1/3 c. spelt flakes and 1 c. water to boil on medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 5-8 minutes.
- Suggested Topping: Apple slices (or finely diced OR homemade applesauce), cinnamon and raisins with your favourite milk.
- Nutrition: Amaranth isn’t technically a grain, it’s actually a seed. It is gluten free, high in iron and calcium, lower in carbohydrate than most grains, and contains higher amounts of lysine (an essential amino acid which is typically lower in plant based proteins).
- Cooking Directions: Soak the amaranth overnight in water (to cover) if possible, and drain before preparing (you can skip this step if you need to, but it helps make it softer). Cook 1/2 c. amaranth in 1 1/2 c. water with a pinch of salt on medium heat in a small saucepan for 30 minutes, until the grain is cooked.
- Suggested topping: Blueberries OR diced banana and coconut with coconut milk.
- Nutrition: Actually a seed of a plant related to rhubarb (not wheat), buckwheat is one of the best sources of protein in the plant kingdom, is high in essential minerals AND is gluten-free!
- Cooking Directions: Bring 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt (optional) to a boil. Add 1/2 cup cereal, turn heat down, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Suggested Topping: Diced pears, chopped pecans, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup.
- Nutrition: You would have to be living under a rock to not know that quinoa is nutritious! Gluten free, high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and twice the protein content of rice or barley, quinoa is also a very good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese.
- Cooking Directions: Combine 1/2 c. quinoa with 1 1/4 c. of almond milk (or a mixture of milk and water) and bring to a simmer. Cook for approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the quinoa is cooked and the mixture is creamy. Stir in 1/2 tsp. of vanilla and your favourite toppings.
- Suggested Topping: Dried blueberries, sliced almonds and a sprinkle of cardamom.
Wheat berries (Hard Wheat Kernels)
- Nutrition: This is a very nostalgic one for me, as we grew up having it for breakfast every Christmas (Ukrainian tradition). Of course we served it with cream and brown sugar! Wheat berries (which are really wheat kernels) are super rich in fibre, something that we all need more of in our diets!
- Cooking Directions: Rinse 1 c. of the kernels in a sieve and toast them in a baking sheet at 350F until fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Place the toasted berries in a medium saucepan and add 2 c. of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the grains are soft, 45 minutes to an hour. This makes 2-3 servings, but you can keep extra in the fridge and re-heat it (it’s worth making extra given how long it takes to prepare).
- Suggested Topping: The traditional Ukrainian topping is cream and poppyseed paste with honey (yum, obviously), but I love it with fresh or frozen blueberries and milk, which is slightly healthier! You can also mix the cooked berries into another cereal like oats if you want to mix up the texture and prefer a creamier cereal!
- Nutrition: These are made from the same oat grain (or groat) as rolled oats, but are cut instead of flattened. They have all of the same heart-healthy benefits and are loaded in soluble fibre.
- Cooking Directions: Toast 1 c. of steel-cut oats on a baking sheet in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes (or on the stove in a pan with a bit of coconut oil on medium heat for a couple of minutes) – this is an optional step, but improves the taste! Bring 2 1/2 c. of water and 1 c. of your favourite milk to a simmer on medium heat on the stove and add 1 c. of steel-cut oats and a pinch of salt. Simmer, on medium-low heat for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is creamy. Makes a couple of servings, reheats nicely!
- Suggested Topping: Natural Peanut butter and diced dates with your favourite milk OR dried figs, finely grated orange rind and orange ginger yogurt with a drizzle of honey (pictured above).
Hot Cereal Topping Ideas:
- Diced pears, chopped pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup
- Sliced bananas, shredded coconut and nutmeg
- Diced dried apricots, cardamom or cinnamon, honey and toasted sliced almonds
- Apple slices (or finely diced), cinnamon and raisins – cook these with your cereal if you like a softer texture, this is a favourite in our house.
- Dried figs, finely grated orange rind and orange ginger yogurt with a drizzle of honey
- Pistachios and dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds
- Raspberries or strawberries and hemp seeds
- Pumpkin puree stirred in with pumpkin pie spice and a drizzle of maple syrup
- Blueberries, blackberries and/or diced canned or fresh peaches with chopped almonds
- Diced mango or pineapple and coconut milk with flaked coconut
- Dried or fresh/frozen (thawed) cherries, sliced toasted almonds and a teaspoon of good quality dark chocolate pieces
- Natural Peanut butter and diced dates
- Roasted fruit (such as plums or strawberries) with a dollop of Greek yogurt
- Roasted banana (broil banana halves with honey or brown sugar in the oven for a few minutes) and nut butter or chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon
- Dried blueberries, sliced almonds and a sprinkle of cardamom
Tori is a Registered Dietitian and self-proclaimed foodie. Her nutrition philosophy embraces moderation and quality without deprivation. She started up Fraîche Nutritionon a whim in August 2014, inspired to help share her love of food and educate others on simple healthy eating at the same time. Tori believes that food and nutrition has become overly complicated, and hopes to help others live healthier lives one wholesome recipe at a time.