Breakfast, Easy and Nourishing

October 7, 2014 in Foodland, Health, Nutritionism, Uncategorized, Whole Grains by Joyce Bunderson

Are you trying to get into an early morning breakfast routine? One easy way is to throw a box or two of cold cereal and a jug of milk on the table. My guess is that is exactly what goes on in many homes – no real research, just a stroll down the cereal isle. I’ve written about cold cereal before, so today, I’m not going to talk about having candy or Twinkies for breakfast. What I thought I’d touch upon is how to provide a very nourishing breakfast, really fast.

Cold cereal is truly a godsend for the time-crunched; and that seems to include a huge swath of our society. Although the food processors and marketers would want you to believe that you get all the nutrients for a healthy body in a box of cold cereal with added vitamins and minerals you know that just not the case; but you can really make it a great deal better with almost no work. And that’s where I’m headed today.

First, let’s start with the cereal itself. Find a cereal with 100% whole grain. Mini Shredded Wheat is my choice. It even works for kids. (Tested this summer on grandchildren). You may need to take it out of the box and store and serve it from a plastic storage container. I suggest this only because kids may not be attracted to the cartoon-free box. But anyway, it was surprising to me that they would eat the mini shredded wheat as it has no added sugar; but not the big biscuits (the kind grandpa likes).  Both cereals are 100% whole grain; it’s only a shape difference. Will you endure one more little diversion? Note the box of Shredded Wheat talks about having “nothing to hide.” Seriously, what a clear confession about how they (the food processors) have to work so hard to hide stuff that’s in our food (and other good stuff that has been taken out). If you often read here, you know how annoyed I can be with the deceptive practices of the food processors in their formulations, labels, and serving sizes, going hand in hand with the deceptive practices of the marketing that lavishes millions on ads targeted to kids, while proclaiming health benefits for adult shoppers that are so often deceptive. It is true that mini shredded wheat has “nothing to hide”.  What is remarkable is that in differentiating themselves this way, they acknowledge the deceptive practices of their entire industry.

The problem with cold cereal is that the vast majority of potentially healthy products have been hijacked by a cold economics:  People, especially children, love sweets.  Sugar (in its various forms) is cheaper pound for pound than the nutritious whole grains, fruits, and nuts. Therefore higher profits because people like it more and eat more; it costs less to make, and it has a longer shelf life before it passes its “eat by” date and should no longer be sold. Processing the grains to take out the germ and oils and other perishable components makes for a longer shelf life, and you can profitably sell these extracted nutritious ingredients elsewhere. This cold economic logic has led to a ratio like 20 sweetened, non-whole grain cereals to 1 whole-grain non-sweetened that can advertise “nothing to hide”. The backlash has begun, and we consumers now have many more whole grain choices than we had just a few years ago. So it is with confidence that I started a prior paragraph saying, “Find a cereal with 100% whole grain.”

If you’re one of the gluten-free advocates, you can find whole grain cereals made of brown rice, oats, whole grain corn meal, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and montina (Indian Rice Grass). Don’t let a box (written by a food processor/marketer) lead you to believe that all the nutrients are in their cereal. A list of the hundreds of phytonutrients (nutrients found in plants) alone is enough to protect you from that kind of nonsense.

So now you’ve got your whole grain cereal. You may want to pour it into a measuring cup the first time or two, so you know how many servings you’re actually eating. Whole grain cereal is a great source of carbohydrate, protein and fiber, and delivers energy to your brain – great way to start the day. But it has calories, so you want to decide how much to serve. Or a different approach is to serve the cereal and then measure it – you may be amazed. Some of the serving sizes are really small. Wow, that cereal bowl easily holds three servings!

If you’re transitioning from a highly sweetened cereal to a cereal with no sweetener, you may want to sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of sugar. I promise, it will still net fewer calories from no-nutrient sugar than the sugar in presweetened cereal. You may gradually decrease even that sweetener and find that the sweetness of the cereal and added fruit is perfect. Coming: zero or low calorie natural sweeteners are increasingly available (e.g., with Stevia or Monk Fruit and Erythritol) to add to your fruit or your cereal.  You don’t even have to sprinkle sugar.

Now build a better-looking, more yummy, and more nutritious bowl.  Here’s how: Sprinkle your cereal with sliced almonds, or any chopped nuts or seeds of your liking. Review my old article It May Seem Nutty. It will help you relax if you’re worried about the additional calories of nuts. Adding nuts is a terrific way to hike up the heart healthy oils, protein and fiber. Then add chopped dates; raisins; chopped banana, peach or pear. The easiest are blueberries, blackberries or raspberries – just a quick rinse and sprinkle on top of the cereal. We serve cereal with nonfat milk, but any milk or plain yogurt adds additional nutrition and flavor.

Although I promised to write about easy breakfasts, the following is an idea for something really attractive and yummy, but extra work; Breakfast SundaesIf you do the soaking and toasting ahead, it could be fast and easy in the morning. Just sprinkle the yogurt with the quinoa, nuts and berries and you’re set. Do yourself a favor and just look at the appealing picture. Making breakfast sundaes may just be the trick for a picky eater. I’m definitely not a picky eater, but this looks very delicious to me.

Among the benefits of eating a breakfast like those described above is that they are filling and satisfying; they protect you from the donut box at work and/or get the children off to a healthy start. You don’t need to make a big time-consuming production to reap the benefits of a healthy breakfast.