Heating up Winter Mornings with Healthy Hot Cereal

Nearly-registered dietitian Elizabeth Jarrard offers up this great guest post on hot cereals- thanks Elizabeth!

Breakfast is a more of a ritual than an option in my household. It’s a healthy habit to have- research has shown that those who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, and forgetting to break the overnight fast results in dropping blood sugar levels, fatigue, poor concentration and irritability. Unfortunately, the cereals, muffins and bagels that most of us have reached for since childhood are nothing more than sugar bombs that only satisfy momentarily.

I deserve better than that, so I reach for foods that are high in fiber (which will keep me full, and help with digestion), protein (also boosts satiety), stick to healthy fats (unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds and plant oils), and cut back on refined sugar and processed sugar substitutes. As the weather gets cooler, I find myself craving something warm to eat alongside my coffee every morning. My three go-to hot cereals are oatmeal, quinoa, and teff porridges.

Oatmeal doesn’t have to be a flavorless bowl of oats! First start with old-fashioned or quick organic oats (both are whole grains). If you are sticking to a gluten-free diet, oats are naturally gluten free, but because of cross-contamination, it is safest to buy Certified Gluten Free Oats.  Besides being an unrefined whole grain, oatmeal is chock-full of soluble fiber, which may decrease your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase the “good stuff” (HDL), decreasing your risk of heart disease, as well moderating blood sugar levels.

But be careful of those Quaker Instant Oat Packets-they’re loaded with extra sugar. Make yours at home, to make it more nutritious and cheaper!! You can cook it on the stove or in the microwave, with 1 -1 ½  cups of water to ½ cup oatmeal. I then sweeten it with stevia (a natural, unrefined sweetener), and mix in all sorts of things, such as: chia seeds, walnuts, or flax seed to boost heart-healthy anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids; canned pumpkin with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to channel holiday warmth; fruit and nut butter (almond, peanut, pecan); or, I’ll go out on a limb and give savory oats a try- mix in vegetables, low-sodium Tamari, and hot sauce!


quinoa and red quinoa

Not one to get stuck in a rut, if I’m feeling like I need a protein boost I’ll swap my oatmeal for quinoa, (pronounced keen-wah) a nutritional powerhouse beloved since the days of the Incas.  Technically a seed – but we count it as a whole grain – and gluten free, quinoa contains more protein than any other grain, and contains all the essential amino acids to help our body form new proteins. Again, I cook this on the stove with 2-3 times the water, but for a little longer, at 15-20 minutes. Similar to oatmeal, I flavor it either sweet or savory depending on my mood! If you want to get extra special try red quinoa!

Teff is the most obscure of my breakfast pals. An Ethiopian grain that is made famous in Injera bread, it also makes a great breakfast porridge. This teeny-tiny gluten-free grain is very high in calcium. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add ¼ cup teff and let simmer for 15 minutes. I think this grain tastes best with unsweetened almond milk or soy milk, stevia, and cinnamon.



What’s your favorite healthy breakfast?

Elizabeth Jarrard is a nutrition student with a degree in Nutritional Sciences from Boston University, and is 3 months away from becoming a registered dietitian. She believes strongly in the power of a plant-based diet, running, adventure, and laughter! You can follow her on Twitter or check out her blog: Don’t White Sugar Coat It.

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