Whole Grain Cereals: Easy to Make At Home!

[Whole oat groats, almond milk, poppyseeds and walnuts.]

Even though I haven’t “officially” been a student for years, I do work at a college, so for me, the beginning of the year will always coincide with the start of the academic year (usually the first week in September). And as the “new year” approaches, I find myself thinking about how to start my day with a nice, big, (usually) hot bowl of wholegrain cereal.

Whole grains are great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber and even protein. Did you know that ½ cup of steel cut oats (which are just the whole grains roughly chopped) contains 10-14 g of protein—as much as 2 eggs?  One bowl (1 cup) of brown rice (the white variety has had the bran removed and doesn’t qualify as “whole grain”) provides a large portion of your daily B-vitamins as well as several key minerals and 14% of your daily fiber.  And millet, once used primarily for bird feed, is a good source of manganese and magnesium, helping to protect against Type 2 diabetes.

I know, it can be tough to think about hot breakfasts when the weather is still so warm in most parts of North America! No worries: if you’re not a fan of hot cereal (I eat it all year round), use these tips to turn whole grains into a fabulous cold breakfast, too.  

Here are some easy ways to ensure that you—and your family—start the day out with some healthy whole grains:

  1. Always cook more grains than you need. Whenever I’m cooking rice for that Indian dinner or the base for my next stir-fry, I always double or triple the amount I need, then portion out in single servings and freeze in plastic containers; I do the same with all grains.  I can pop a container in the fridge at night and it’s defrosted in time for breakfast the next day.

[Rice and milk, gussied up with apple and chopped almonds.]

2. Venture beyond standard cereal breakfasts. When I was a kid, one of my dad’s favorite light dinners was “rice and milk”—a big bowl of cooked rice in warm milk with a splash of honey.  It’s a comforting, filling, nourishing breakfast, too.  I will often mix a bowl of rice and warm dairy-free milk with a few drops of stevia, a sprinkling of cinnamon, and a handful of walnut pieces for a delicious alternative to porridge.  Pretty much any grain works this way—quinoa, millet, rice, even amaranth.

[Easy "cream of wheat" style cereal--just blend cooked grains!]

3. Blend, blend, blend! Another childhood favorite of mine was Cream of Wheat. Now that I’m eating gluten-free, I had to find an alternative that was reminiscent of the cereal I loved. I simply take cooked grains (you can use just one type of grain, or a mixture), blend in your food processor or blender until smooth, then gently reheat with milk and sweetener of choice. Even if you weren’t fond of Cream of Wheat (and I know many weren’t!), do give this creamy, warming alternative a try.

[Pink Breakfast Bowl: cooked grains, seeds, and grated beets. As delicious as it is pretty!]

4. Go back to the real source of cold breakfast cereals.  Sometimes we forget that the loops, squares and flakes we enjoy as a quick breakfast-in-a-bowl are actually derived from the whole grains we can cook up in our own kitchens.  If you’re not a fan of hot cereal in the morning, a cold bowl of pre-cooked grains with a few add-ins (try nuts, seeds, chopped fruit, or—if you’re really adventurous—grated beets or carrots) splashed with milk and sweetener of choice makes a surprisingly satisfying start to the day, and one that will keep you going until lunch time.

5. Think outside the (cereal) box. Although I do love a cereal made from whole grains, I often mix them into other breakfast foods as well, such as pancakes, waffles or muffins. It’s a great way to increase your intake of these healthy foods!

Do you aim to include whole grains in your breakfasts? How do you fit them in?

Ricki Heller is the author of Sweet Freedom: Desserts You’ll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar (endorsed by Ellen DeGeneres on her website) as well as three e-cookbooks. She writes the popular food blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, where she chronicles her journey with candida and has posted more than 600 sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, whole-foods recipes. You can find Ricki on Facebook and twitter, too!

37 Responses to Whole Grain Cereals: Easy to Make At Home!

  • I am a whole grain girl all the way! I normally go for oats for breakfast. They hold me over better than anything. I really love cooking large amounts of whole grains like brown rice, millet and quinoa (I know a seed more than a grain) to have as desserts. I told you I’m a whole grain girl. That first cereal bowl you showed had me wanting that for second breakfast! YUM! Great post Ricki. Really great information and tricks for getting in more whole grains!

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen), Thanks so much! I am a whole grain gal, too. Funny, when I have it for breakfast, I consider quinoa a grain. When I use it in grain-free pancakes, I consider it a seed! ;-)

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  • what great advice to make more than you need. a cold bowl does sound like a great start to the day! especially during the summer!

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    Ricki Reply:

    @Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy, Caralyn, I swear I think I like the cold ones better than the hot ones! Well, maybe not. . .! ;-)

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  • Kim says:

    Great ideas, Ricki!

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    Ricki Reply:

    @Kim, Thanks, Kim! I’m happy to add grains any way I can. :)

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  • These are great ideas! Before I went grain free, I loved sprouted buckwheat groats with coconut milk–soak whole, raw buckwheat groats, then dehydrate them with a bit of salt and maple syrup. Yum! Now, my grain-free cold cereal alternative is my allergen free crumble topping (http://www.empoweredsustenance.com/allergen-free-crumble-topping-for-everything/).
    I add it to cold coconut milk, and it tastes like cereal!

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @Lauren @ Empowered Sustenance, Lauren, that sounds DIVINE!! A must-try, for sure. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  • Love these tips Ricki! I am a HUGE fan of buckwheat cereal, either hot or cold… I either grind raw groats and then cook like a cream of wheat, or do overnight soaked groats and mix it with chia seeds, etc. I like to cook more grains than needed too, I just did that with quinoa last night! Grains are so incredibly versatile, I love it!

    I never thought to blend already cooked grains to make a ‘cream of wheat’ type cereal, what a fabulous idea!

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @Christa @ Edible Balance, Thanks so much! And totally forgot to mention grinding raw groats (or other grains) and THEN cooking for porridge–it makes cooking times SO much faster, too! I recently tried this for the first time with oat groats and it was amazing how quickly they cooked up. :)

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  • Karin Goodman says:

    I love Bob’s Red Mill Cream of Rice Cereal. I guess you could grind rice and make your own. Also try adding fruit or dried fruit. Dried strawberries are mine and my daughters favorite.

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @Karin Goodman, I bet dried fruit mixed into hot cereal is heavenly–I used to love raisins in my cereals, but can’t have those now. Will have to go for gojis or strawberries instead–thanks! :)

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  • dee m says:

    Ricki.. thanks a bunch. I got my hubby off of boxed cereals two years ago! We are always looking for awesome ways to step up our morning oatmeal. I had to chuckle to myself when I read about your dad introducing you to warm milk and rice. I have loved warmed milk and rice since a child as well, and it was my dad who introduced me to eating it this way. :) I would never of thought to add chopped apples and almonds. Yum! I am always inspired to stretch myself further with your great posts. We have always eaten healthy, growing much of what we consume, but we feel there is always room for growth. We have made many changes in the last few years in the way we eat, adding in more grains. Thank you too for the mention of processing cooked grains for Cream of Wheat, I have been missing it greatly! You are awesome!!

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @dee m, Dee, so glad this gave you some new ideas! :D I have found that since I’ve begun to eat this kind of cereal, the boxed stuff really doesn’t appeal any more (especially since I started having leftover grains cold, with cold milk instead!). I hope you like the “cream of wheat” as much as I do–let me know what you think if you do try it out!

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  • This is great advice Ricki! I’m totally going to try beets in my morning grains :)

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    Ricki Reply:

    @Gabby @ the veggie nook, Gabby, it sounds weird, but I have to tell you, this is now one of my very favorite breakfasts! The raw beets (if grated VERY fine) impart a lovely sweetness to the cereal. :)

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  • NANCY BENNETT says:

    Cream of wheat is out, but have you tried cream of Rice. Its yummy, I add vanilla, fruits, even a egg while its cooking, stevia and to make it creamy use half coconut milk

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    Ricki Reply:

    @NANCY BENNETT, Nancy, that’s exactly what I was talking about when I suggested blending the cooked grains! I blend rice, or quinoa, or whatever cooked grains I have on hand, then eat it just like you would Cream of Wheat. Adding coconut milk is a fabulous idea, thanks! :)

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  • Alisa says:

    I had no idea you were such a grain person Ricki! I cut way back on grains, and honestly, I miss them! I did find that oatmeal was waying too heavy, but have been craving something like brown rice in the morning. These all look so delicious and hearty!

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @Alisa, I adore grains. I used to eat grains at every meal, but have had to cut back since I started the anti-candida diet. Just makes me appreciate them all the more. :)

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  • I have just the right amount of leftover brown rice to make a lovely warm cereal with nuts, banana, and some vanilla almond milk–yum! Thanks, Ricki!

    Shirley

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @Shirley @ gfe, I think you’ll love it! Let me know how it turns out. :)

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  • Jenny says:

    What brand of steel cut oats are you using that contains 10-14 grams of protein? Mine are only about half of that and I like added protein in the morning?

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    Ricki Reply:

    @Jenny, I found the nutrition data on Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG site: http://www.livestrong.com/article/349995-steel-cut-oats-nutritional-facts/. If 1/4 cup contains 5-7 grams protein, 1/2 cup equals 10-14. :)

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  • Cara says:

    I love the blended grains idea – totally going to try that!

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @Cara, It’s delicious that way! And so warming in the summer.

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  • Gena says:

    Great post, Ricki! I especially love the tip about blending, as it’s a technique I have yet to try.

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @Gena, Do try it! It’s a great way to use leftover grains, and really reminiscent of Cream of Wheat. :)

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  • Sheree says:

    Hi Ricki, I was wondering if that was a 1/2 cup of cooked steel cut oats or dry? I would love to get that much protein in 1/2 cup of cooked. :o )

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    @Sheree, They don’t specify on the LIVESTRONG page (cited above), but based on other sites I’ve looked at, I’d say it’s uncooked. So about 1-1/2 cups cooked would be equivalent.

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  • Kim Maes says:

    Ricki, these are some really great ideas. I am a big buckwheat fan and love to try and get some extra into the kiddos as well. I am totally marking this one!

    [Reply]

    Ricki Reply:

    Glad to hear it, Kim! I know buckwheat isn’t a favorite for everyone, but I just love it, too. :)

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  • Tammy says:

    Love this post! In addition to making overnight steel cut oats in a rice cooker, we love homemade granola. It’s a yummy and filling meal- oats, nuts (almond, walnut, pecan), seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), flax meal or wheat germ, honey and molasses. Lots of micronutrients, and a good balance of carbs, fat and protein. And way cheaper than buying pre-made granola at the store.

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  • Ricki says:

    Tammy, I totally forgot to mention granola! Of course you’re getting some grain (oats) that way, too! And the rice cooker is a great idea–thanks! :)

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  • Johanna GGG says:

    oh dear I am not even sure what cream of wheat is – and I never liked oats – the sort of cereal I really liked was muesli (or granola) but we love smoothies and I have been thinking maybe I need some oats in my smoothies – have tried it before but not recently. I love your pink bowl with the beets in it – so pretty and I can imagine the beets really add some lovely flavour

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  • Ricki says:

    Thanks so much, Johanna! Cream of wheat is pureed cooked wheat cereal–imagine cooked white rice then pureed to a creamy smooth texture and heated. I think muesli does contain oats, though, doesn’t it? It doesn’t really matter how you get them, as long as you somehow include whole grains in your diet–and it sounds like you’re doing just that! :)

    [Reply]

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