For Breakfast,Think Outside the Cereal Box

By the time February rolls around, I start to anticipate the coming of Spring, longer daylight hours and the promise of warmer temperatures. Here in New York however, mornings are still very cold, so I won’t be giving up my hot breakfast cereal any time soon.

If you like hot cereal at breakfast and find yourself reaching for an instant oatmeal packet, I invite you to consider a few new possibilities. Many cooked whole grains can be used for breakfast cereal, and have the benefit of more fiber, superior nutritional value, and little to no processing.

Oatmeal aficionados will tell you that the wonderful, nutty flavor and texture of steel cut oats will change your mind about oatmeal packets forever. I have to agree. Some people are reluctant to try this form of oatmeal because of the extra time (45 minutes) it takes to make the cereal in the morning.

Here’s an easy solution to the time problem: cook the night before. Bring 1 cup steel cut oats and 4 cups of water to a boil for 2 minutes or so. Remove the oatmeal from the heat source and cover the pot. When the pot of cereal has cooled down, you can put the cereal mixture in a covered container and store it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you will have 4-6 servings of the oatmeal ready to portion out and heat in the microwave each morning. The microwave time is about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on the high setting and it doesn’t get much easier than that!

Once I realized the ease of this preparation method, I began to substitute other whole grains to vary the hot cereal choices. I was pleasantly surprised with my results and have now added quinoa, buckwheat groats, and wheat berries to my cereal list. All are simple, unprocessed whole grains that make very satisfying breakfast cereals! The larger size of the grains will, of course, require a longer initial cooking times ranging from 15-45 minutes before you store it overnight.

Start a pot of grains on the stove top while you clean up after dinner and you’re done! The things you can add to cooked whole grain cereals are limited only by your imagination. Fresh cut up fruit, dried fruit, walnuts, sunflower seeds or a bit of honey are just a few of the additions you can make while you create brand new breakfast possibilities!

Cooking Times for Breakfast Grains:

1 cup Wheat Berries to 3 cups Water: Cook covered on medium-high until wheat berries are plump & chewy (about 45-60 minutes)

1 cup Quinoa to 2 cups Water: Bring to boil then cover & simmer 10-15 minutes

1 cup Buckwheat Groats to 2 cups Water: Bring to boil then cover & simmer 15 minutes

© 2010, Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE.  Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.

Gretchen is an author, consultant, speaker and Registered Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Educator.  She is also a Certified LEAP Therapist (Lifestyle Eating and Performance), specializing in the clinical management of food sensitivities and related conditions.  She opened her private nutrition practice in 2002 and has expanded to two office locations in New Windsor and Beacon, NY.  Gretchen’s practice provides individual nutritional counseling in the areas of diabetes, weight management, food sensitivities, gastrointestinal disorders, and general wellness. To work with Gretchen Scalpi please visit

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