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Hot Cereal on Busy Mornings

For me, I know fall has truly arrived not by the crispness in the morning air, the abundance of apples or the arrival of winter squash, but when I start to crave something warm and hearty to start my day and when my children ask, “Mom, will you please make us some porridge?” In our house “porridge” is the name that has been given to a conglomeration of various kinds of grains, combined and cooked together to produce a wonderful, nourishing dish.

Not just for the three bears, the modern porridge in our kitchen is made with whole grains, supplying us with key nutrients for good health. Whole grains are more nutrient dense and fiber-rich than foods made with refined, white flour and other processed grains, plus they are delicious and versatile.

Whether you are a parent, a student or just ready for something to warm you in cooler weather, this is an easy way to give breakfast a nutritional boost. Try one of my favorites, buckwheat, or amaranth, the nutritious seed of a plant native to the Americas. If these are new to you, combine them with an old favorite, such as rolled oats.

Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and contains no gluten. Good in more than pancakes, buckwheat contains all of the essential amino acids and good amounts of calcium, iron and B vitamins. Amaranth is also gluten-free and has a nutty, mildly spicy flavor. Rich in fiber and iron and a good source of calcium, amaranth is an ancient grain worthy of rediscovering. I love to combine all three as in the recipe here:

Buckwheat Amaranth Oatmeal

  • 3/4 cup whole buckwheat*

  • 1/2 cup amaranth*

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats*

  • 1 cinnamon stick*

  • *These items can be found in the bulk department

  • 2 cups apple juice (or water)

  • 2 cups water

To prepare:

Toast buckwheat by stirring often over medium heat until warm. Add amaranth and continue stirring until it smells toasty, and you hear tiny pops. (That’s the amaranth.) Add the oats and stir again. Add cinnamon sticks, water, and juice to the grains. (If a smoother, softer consistency is desired, increase the amount of liquid by a cup.) Bring to a boil over medium heat.

Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the grains are soft. Avoiding gluten? Skip the oats and increase the buckwheat and amaranth by 1/4 cup each. Makes about 4 to 6 servings.

Another way I save time in our busy morning rush is to double or even triple this recipe on the weekends. Then during the week, I add hot water to the already cooked grains, and gently reheat on low, stirring as needed, and we have warm, cooked whole grain breakfast cereal in less than five minutes. I love this because it is quick, very affordable and healthy — unprocessed whole foods with no extracted oils or refined sugars.

My family loves it because each of us turns our bowl of grains into a breakfast sundae! We mix and match our favorite hot cereal toppings to create our own individualized healthy dish. My daughters prefer fresh fruit and a splash of almond milk; my son, cinnamon, and dried fruit; me, all of the above plus ground flax seed and ginger. My husband goes in a savory direction with cooked greens, almonds, hot sauce and beans. The possibilities are endless. Be creative and adventurous!

Looking for more hot breakfast ideas? Millet Breakfast Cereal features millet, another gluten-free ancient grain that we adore in the morning. If you’re feeling less adventurous, try the equally delicious Apple-Scented Breakfast Oatmeal and Buckwheat. For a quick breakfast, we also like the Overnight Oatmeal, made even healthier with hemp milk and dried fruit instead of the agave for sweetness.

What’s your favorite hot cereal breakfast?