Warm up to some whole grains

Oatmeal can be the perfect breakfast on chilly winter mornings. So can amaranth, farro, quinoa, millet, barley and wheat berries.

A bowl of oatmeal with fruit.
Photo: RitaE/Pixabay.

The weather outside is frightful. As cold winds chill our bones, we have the opportunity to heat them up with some warm and healthy wintertime foods. It is well known that eating breakfast is an important part of every nutritious diet. Whole grains are nutrient dense and packed with fiber — an excellent addition to your breakfast table.

Most Americans are familiar with oatmeal as an option to fill the breakfast bowl. It seems that few are familiar with many other delicious whole grain choices. Almost any whole grain can turn into a healthy and satisfying hot start for your morning. Some examples include barley, cornmeal, amaranth, quinoa, farro, millet and wheat berries. Prepare the grain according to package directions and then customize it to meet your taste.  

To add even more variety, use coconut, vanilla soy or other milks in the cooking process to create a new and different taste. Try topping your hot cereal with banana, coconut flakes, dark chocolate, dried apricots, cranberries, cherries, nuts and seeds of any kind to further pack the nutrient punch of your breakfast. Then pour on the milk, soy milk, almond milk or low-fat Greek yogurt to complete your morning masterpiece.

While most whole grains are good sources of fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins, iron, manganese and zinc, each grain packs a different nutrient punch. A healthiest whole grain does not exist. Instead, some whole grains are stronger in one nutrient and others in different nutrients. For example, amaranth and quinoa are high in protein, while other whole grains are packed with antioxidants, like barley. There is a tasty grain for every breakfast bowl, so branch out and start experimenting today. Visit the Whole Grains Council to learn how to recognize a whole grain and great ideas for including them in your daily meal plan.

You can prepare your hot cereal on the weekend and reheat it throughout the week, so you are not challenged by the morning rush. Mayo Clinic offers a healthy recipe for a six-grain hot cereal that combines many kinds of grains to kick off your day. As the snow blows, fill your belly with some nice warm cereal that stays with you all day long.

Michigan State University Extension offers classes to help make the healthy choice the easy choice. For more information, visit our Nutrition website.

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