Mondays with Millie: Quick and Easy Alternatives to Cold Cereal

A few weeks ago I offered some suggestions for transitioning to real food.

A suggestion that I suspect wasn’t very popular was #1.  Stop buying breakfast cereal.

Breakfast Cake with Yogurt ‘Frosting’


I know that this is a hard one. Cold cereal is so easy. Open the box, pour on the milk and breakfast is served.  Plus it makes a dandy evening snack.  I have to admit, I didn’t really want to give up my breakfast cereal either. But the more I read, the more I was convinced that these little boxes are poison.  Here is an excerpt that help convince me.

“Let’s look at the processing involved in the typical American breakfast of cereal, skim milk and orange juice. Cold breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. Grains are mixed with water, processed into a slurry and placed in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a tiny hole at high temperature and pressure, which shapes them into little o’s or flakes or shreds. Individual grains passed through the extruder expand to produce puffed wheat, oats and rice. These products are then subjected to sprays that give a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch.

In his book Fighting the Food Giants, biochemist Paul Stitt describes the extrusion process, which treats the grains with very high heat and pressure, and notes that the processing destroys much of their nutrients. It denatures the fatty acids; it even destroys the synthetic vitamins that are added at the end of the process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially damaged by the extrusion process.

Even boxed cereals sold in health food stores are made using the extrusion process. They are made with the same kind of machines and mostly in the same factories. The only “advances” claimed in the extrusion process are those that will cut cost, regardless of how the process alters the nutrient content of the product.

With so many millions of boxes of cereal sold each year, one would expect to see published studies showing the effects of these cereals on animals and humans. But breakfast cereals are a multi-billion dollar industry that has created huge fortunes for a few people. A box of cereal containing a penny’s worth of grain sells for four or five dollars in the grocery store–there is probably no other product on earth with such a large profit margin. These profits have paid for lobbying efforts and journal sponsorships that have effectively kept any research about extruded grains out of the scientific literature and convinced government officials that there is no difference between a natural grain of wheat and a grain that has been altered by the extrusion process.”

Be sure to read the entire article, Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry. It gives more information on the extrusion process and other information plus offers alternatives.

Oatmeal Pancakes with Candied Kumquats

I have to say that after over 2 years without cereal we don’t really miss it.  At first, I found myself a little stumped as to what to make that was quick in the mornings. Pretty quickly we found developed some ‘regulars’.  My girls, until recently, were on the bus at 6:30AM and they needed something quick and easy before that. Now they have a more leisurely schedule and don’t leave the house in 7:10.  We still find we need those quick breakfasts since the extra time is spent sleeping.

For the girls we rely on make ahead things:

Muffins or Breakfast Cake (same recipe for cake just cooked in a pan) are pretty common. I make them and the girls can help themselves.  Muffins also make a great portable snack or lunch food. While these do tak a little planning ahead, muffins are super easy to make.

Sourdough toast with nut butter, cream cheese, cinnamon ‘sugar’ or honey butter are also popular. Sometimes if I haven’t made bread I’ll substitute store bought sprouted bread. You can really find some decent store bought breads these days. Not ready to jump into sprouted or sourdough bread? When we first started this food journey we lived in a 23 foot camp trailer (it’s a long story but in a nutshell one house sold before the other was ready). I did have an oven and access to an oven but did not make bread regular. Instead, I read labels and made sure to buy bread that had as few ingredients as possible and no high fructose corn syrup (that was/is important to me).  No we do eat mostly sprouted, soaked or soured breads because of the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients but don’t feel that you have to do that in the beginning of your transition to real food.  Baby steps work!

Yogurt parfait is super easy. I either make or buy plain yogurt and we top it with whatever is available. Fresh fruit, fruit relish, crispy nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut all make wonderful toppers.

Baked Oatmeal is another great make ahead dish.  This works like cold cereal at our house. I cut it into single serving sizes and store in the fridge. We just take out a piece, put it in our bowl and top with milk. Quick and easy.

Speaking of cold cereal. Here is a great recipe for homemade cold cereal. It takes a bit of time to complete it but my family loved it. It is very much like grapenuts.

Here is a simple dish that takes minimal preparation and is reminiscent of a cold cereal. Museli. Very easy. Just soak the oats over night in an acidic medium add your flavorings and in the morning it ready to serve with milk.

My friend Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS recently posted about the Soaked Granola Bar they enjoy for breakfast. I’m looking forward to trying her new method for making presoaked oats into granola that don’t turn out like little stones (the way mine do!).

My husband, Joe, doesn’t leave for work until after 9AM. That gives some time for him, Christopher (age 3) and me to have a more leisurely breakfast (in theory).

Butterscotch Rice

Our usual breakfast tends to be fried eggs with or without sourdough toast. We also like to have soup for breakfast. That was something we started doing when we were doing the GAPS Intro and really enjoyed it.  Hot cereal is also something we really enjoy. Butterscotch Oatmeal or Butterscotch Rice is a real treat! Plain (soaked) oatmeal topped with things similar to what we put on the yogurt parfaits is also delicious. Sometimes I’ll make pancakes but usually those are reserved for the weekend.

I hope that some of these ideas help you when you are thinking of things to enjoy for breakfast instead of cold cereal.

What do you think? Could you ditch the cold cereal?

Photos: Breakfast Cake, Oatmeal Pancakes, Butterscotch Rice

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