We eat a lot of oatmeal around here – partially because we have ample Steel Cut Oats from our Lonesome Whistle CSA and partially because we just like oatmeal. If there is one grain you should eat, it’s oatmeal.
Oatmeal is good for your nervous system, supporting, healing, and strengthening the mylin sheath that protects your nerves. (This link will take you to excellent information on the whole plant.) When I hear someone say their “nerves just feel frayed”, I tell them to eat oatmeal. Of course it won’t work for some folks who need to avoid grains of all sorts, but the rest of us can really benefit from a good bowl of oatmeal (or an oatmeal cookie!).
We like to bulk up our oatmeal – a lot. We add all kinds of nuts and dried fruits. The dried fruits mean we can add less (or no) sweetener later. I almost always add flax seeds for a little extra nutrition. Along the same lines, I often add a handful of coconut. The result is a bowl of goodness that sets us up for a busy day. Some of our favorite combinations (in addition to the flax and coconut);
*Dried blueberries, cashews, & pumpkin seeds.
*Raisins, dried cherries, almonds, & pecans.
*Dates, sunflower seeds, & any tree nut.
*Dried cranberries, crystalized ginger, & pecans.
*Sliced fresh apple, raisins, pecans or almonds, & pumpkin seeds.
I know I have barely begun to tap the myriad possiblities, but those are some of the best. Add a drizzle of honey, a little butter if you like, and a splash of milk.
So that’s good, but sometimes we have grains leftover from our previous dinner and I want to use them. Cooked rice or barley are the most usual suspects here, though wheat, kamut, or spelt could work as well.
Make a breakfast pudding!
I recently did this with a blend of brown rice and the purple barley from Lonesome Whistle. There’s not really a recipe… but here’s the general concept.
Combine the leftover cooked grain in a pan with enough milk (cow, coconut, or almond milk are my favorites) to just cover. Add raisins, almonds, flax seeds, coconut (or any other combination…as above). On medium heat bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cook on low, stirring frequently until thickened. If the pudding is too thin you can pull some liquid and temper an egg or two into your pudding (which adds some extra protien – always good!), add the egg back in and allow to thicken. If eggs aren’t your thing, stir in a couple tablespoons of almond meal. Add honey to taste, a dash of vanilla, and a pinch of salt. The resulting pudding is rich and flavorful.
Combining this, lots of different fruit and nut combinations, oatmeal, and plenty of extra nutritional add-ins…and suddenly those hot breakfast cereals offer a lot of diverse options for a most basic breakfast.
And if you like coconut milk, did you know it’s easy to make your own? I’ve been using these instuructionswith a fair amout of success. The resulting milk is thinner than what I use for cooking usually, but really tasty. The kids drink it up so fast there usually isn’t much left for cooking anyway.