The new year is the start of a new season of eating. One meal that many say is the most important often gets the least attention, and that is breakfast. Sure, we’ve all greeted the morning with a luxurious egg dish, fancy French toast, or stack of fluffy pancakes. But who among us can eat that way every day? Most days, my breakfast boils down to a bowlful of nutty McCann’s steel-cut Irish oatmeal with my favorite toppings of currants and cinnamon. But week after week of the same can leave even the most ardent health nut wanting to change things up.
So I’ve devised or discovered other cereal-like breakfast options that meet my criteria of being healthy, satisfying, and fast. The recipes start with simple “base” of grains or yogurt, and from there you can make them your own by adding any combination of fruits, nuts, and sweeteners. Fruits can be dried or fresh. Nuts can be raw or toasted. Have fun playing with the ingredients and give yourself a few tries to create something to your liking.
What’s more, each of these recipes is super easy to make and can be made in advance. I like to prepare my quinoa or muesli on Sunday evenings to have ready for the week ahead. And because these breakfast options keep well refrigerated for days or all week long, they meet my criteria of being fast to assemble in the morning. Start with a scoop of your cereal or yogurt, add your mix-ins, and your breakfast is ready to go—whether you eat at home or tote it to the office.
Most of all these breakfast options will kick start your day—and hopefully the rest of your year—by bringing fiber, fruit, and nuts into your diet in a way that tastes good and makes healthy eating easy.
Makes about 3 cups
My first taste of quinoa as a breakfast was served cold, but this recipe can be served hot or cold. When refrigerated the quinoa mixture will become crumbly; add yogurt to make creamier.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups whole or low-fat milk
3 tablespoons honey, plus more when serving or to taste
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup slivered almonds
(or chopped dried apricots, cherries, or figs)
1. Bring milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa, and let it come back up to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the milk has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
2. Turn off heat. Keep on stovetop. Add honey, raisins, almonds, and other dried fruit if desired, and cover with lid. Let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Can be served hot immediately or let cool and refrigerate overnight in a glass container, covered. When serving the next morning, add Greek yogurt to a desired consistency, additional honey to taste, and any fresh fruit if desired. Brown sugar or maple syrup can be substituted for the honey.
Makes about 2 cups
(Can be doubled)
Originally developed by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner around 1900 for his patients, Birchermüesli, or more simply, muesli, remains a popular breakfast cereal in Europe.
1½ cups quick-cooking oats (not instant or old-fashioned)
1¼ cups whole or low-fat milk
1 tablespoon honey
¼ dark raisins or currants
½ cup slivered almonds
Sliced fresh fruit, such as bananas, or dried fruit
Substitute other chopped nuts
Ground flax seeds
1. Put oatmeal flakes in a large glass container. Add milk, honey, raisins, and almonds. Stir gently to mix and soak overnight in the refrigerator, covered.
2. The next morning, the oatmeal will have absorbed the milk. Add fresh fruit, such as bananas, blueberries, or raspberries, and any other optional add-ins to your liking. If planning to eat muesli for more than the next day, add optional ingredients to individual servings.
Magical Breakfast Cream
This recipe is from Mireille Guiliano’s “The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook.” It really isn’t made with cream, but instead relies on yogurt, which gives this creation a creamy texture. Guiliano encourages you to vary the ingredients to your liking. My version below stays close to the original recipe, except that I use a different dry cereal. The flaxseed oil can be purchased at health food stores, and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid.
4 to 6 tablespoons yogurt, about ½ cup
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice (preferably Meyer or organic)
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons finely ground cereal (with zero sugar, such as Post Shredded Wheat, or my preference is Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Multibran cereal)
2 teaspoons finely ground walnuts
Put the yogurt in a bowl and add the flaxseed oil. Mix well. (Note: You will not taste the oil in the end.)
Add the lemon juice and mix well.
Add the honey and mix well.
It is important to add each ingredient one at a time and mix well to obtain a homogeneous preparation.
In a food processor, finely grind the cereal and walnuts, separately. Add to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Eat at once.
Time Saver: Do a week’s worth of grinding the cereal and walnuts and keep them refrigerated so in the morning it will take just a few minutes to mix.
Guiliano notes that when she uses 2 tablespoons of Post Shredded Wheat Original made from whole-grain wheat per serving, it adds a “health-friendly” mix of 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of sodium, and 6 grams of fiber per cup.
Adapted from “The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook,” by Mireille Guiliano, Atria Books, copyright 2010.