If you’re going to do carbs, the very best time of day to eat them is in the morning, because you’ll have the rest of the day to burn them off! Nutritionally speaking, some of the finest and most loaded and complex carbs on the planet are whole grains alchemized into hot cereal.
What? You’re not a fan of mushy hot cereal? You only THINK you’re not! Erase all the preconceived stereotypes and lousy childhood memories of tepid, flavorless gruel, a la Oliver Twist. I’m not suggesting it can or should resemble crème brule, but with a little imagination, you can make your next bowl of hot cereal teetering on the verge of appealing…if you play your cards properly.
What’s required is a good foundation of whole-grained, gluten-free carbs such as oatmeal, brown rice, oat bran, steel cut oats, and the like. From there, proceed with the following crucial elements:
- Cook with almond or coconut milk, NOT water
- Add a righteous sweetener that won’t batter your pancreas and bang your blood sugar alarm too aggressively. Molasses, honey, stevia, coconut palm sugar, or coconut palm nectar are all excellent.
- A sprinkling of dried fruit helps the medicine go down. This includes the usual standby of raisins, but by all means, go exotic with chopped figs or dates, or a handful of goji berries or mulberries, all are loaded with nutrients
- Never underestimate the power of vanilla to lift and energize the flavor of hot cereal
- Add superfoods to the mix. Hot cereal actually lends itself to absorbing a teaspoon or two of powdery super foods like maca, goji powder, shredded coconut, ground flax or chia seeds, or a dollop of coconut oil.
- Love yourself some spices! As in cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and cloves.
- Go nuts! Add crunch and protein to your bowl by including walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
Of note: Chia and flax seeds are often marketed as whole seeds but I’ve heard from a number of sources (and it makes sense to me) that these poppy-sized seeds are so tiny, they can’t be broken down in the digestive track like larger foods so they pass right through and so do the nutrients, unused. The solution is to grind them yourself in a nut or coffee grinder or buy them pre-ground.
I can hear those on a tight schedule muttering about the time it must take to prepare. Sure it’s more than a zap in the microwave, but cooked on medium-low (hot cereal burns easily so watch the flame and stir often) it’s done in 10-15 minutes. My strategy for a little time-saving: Get all the ingredients together in a saucepan the night before. The grains soak and get nice and plump overnight in the milk (I use almond milk so spoilage isn’t a factor) and cooking time’s not as long.
So there you have it, one of my strategies for comforting yourself with carbs in a way that will enhance your body’s functioning, not throw a monkey wrench into it. The combinations for delicious hot cereal are many. Below is a single recipe, but it’s a template to work from. Make your own formulas based on what’s in the cupboard or what you’re craving. Who knew morning cereal could be so creative?
Super Oatmeal with Goji Berries
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond, coconut, or sunflower seed milk
1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oats
2 tablespoons ground flax or chia seeds
2 tablespoons hemp hearts
1/4 cup dried goji berries *
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Sweetener of choice: 1 tablespoon honey, or coconut palm nectar. Or 8 drops of stevia.
* Dried goji berries are very tough (not soft like raisins) so this cereal recipe lends it self to an overnight soak. If you can, place all ingredients but sweetener in a small saucepan and soak overnight. In the morning, place covered over medium-low heat and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until desired thickness is reached. Stir occasionally. When done, mix in sweetener and serve immediately.