The New Breakfast of Champions
Toss aside the box of sugary Cocoa Puffs for this delicious hot cereal with quinoa and chopped greens.
Photo by Leah Lizarondo
"We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane." My favorite quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. Chew on that for a second. It speaks volumes.
My not-so-favorite fact, however, is that the most important meal of the day is often one of our least stellar meals. The “standard” American breakfast, it seems, falls into two groups — a fat-packed combination of eggs and cured meat or a starch-packed bowl of sugar cereal (or even worse, that cake masquerading as breakfast bread: the muffin). None of these are particularly healthy. And none of these options contain any respectable amount of fiber. Why is fiber important? For one, it protects against obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.
Nutritionist Marion Nestle has an excellent primer you can read here. Many popular breakfast cereals, even the so-called "breakfast of champions," have zero fiber, added sugars and contain BHT, a preservative and possible carcinogen. Do I want that for my “most important meal of the day?” No, thank you.
But you don’t have to grind your own wheat and make your own breakfast cereal to ensure you’re getting the right stuff. You just have to find the good ones. They are out there. Just make it a habit to read labels. There’s also the old standby — oatmeal. It's a perfectly good option for breakfast (just go easy on the brown sugar!)
Don't get me wrong, I love that we can start our morning with pleasure-inducing sweet stuff. But most mornings I wake up craving a savory breakfast. Unfortunately, outside of eggs and the vegan standby, the “tofu scramble,” there aren’t many options out there. Until I discovered this. I LOVE IT. If you can’t find this hot cereal in your grocery store, organic grits make a good substitute.
One serving of this cereal gives you 4g of fiber, 4g of protein and zero sugars! My recipe below gives you all that and more, with the addition of quinoa and (hold on to your seats) greens! Greens with breakfast! Unheard of. The nutrition nerd in me gets extremely excited about this.
Aside from greens, this hot cereal recipe uses quinoa as well (be still my heart!) How do you get more fiber in your diet? Eat more WHOLE GRAINS. And an easy way to “fortify” any dish is to add quinoa. My strategy is to make a batch at the beginning of the week (one cup quinoa, cooked and stored in your fridge does the trick) and I add it to things I make throughout the week — salad, pasta, even rice and cold cereal. It boosts not only the fiber content of any meal but the protein content as well. This ancient grain is an excellent source of complete protein.
And with winter here, this bowl is just what you need to warm you up and give you a great start to your day. Breakfast of Champions? Mos def!
Breakfast of Champions
Yield: Serves 4
- 4 c water
- ½ t salt
- 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal*
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 c (or more) chopped greens of your choice
- olive oil or butter for serving
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring water and salt to boil. Stir in the cereal and reduce heat to very low.
2. Stir with a whisk to prevent clumping.
3. Add garlic and greens, stir then cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed.
4. Add quinoa and heat through. Season to taste.
5. Serve with a dab of olive oil or butter.
*Available at The East End Food Co-Op, Whole Foods, and Market District