Extrude me, breakfast is served

April 16, 2009

Every thinking person knows that Fruit Loops isn’t a great breakfast. Full of sugar and refined carbs, I hope if you’re reading this you know that this isn’t the best way to kick off your day. For years I would study the cereal aisle in vain, searching for a cereal with less sugar, more fiber, more vitamins, more whole grains. I even found one or two brands that fit the bill. These clocked in at about $6.00/box but it’s worth it, right?

I mean, what else am I going to eat for breakfast?

Especially if you have to run to work or school in the morning, choices can feel limited. I’ve had my fair share of egg sandwiches from Au Bon Pain, or bagels from Dunkin Donuts. The last time I had a bagel for breakfast it took exactly 2 hours for my blood sugar to spike and then crash crazy fast, leaving me dizzy, sweating and afraid of passing out in the middle of a class. Whoops.

But, what else am I going to eat for breakfast? I don’t always have time to cook up a fresh bowl of oats.

The final straw for breakfast cereal for me came when I learned about the extrusion process that boxed cereals go through. Grains are basically deconstructed, refined and put back together into shapes like Loops or Charms or Cheerios. This extrusion process has been found to change the grain at a very basic level, such that rats fed corn flakes died before rats fed only the corn flake BOX in a study at the University of Michigan. Read more about extrusion here if you are interested, but suffice it to say that the time is now to ditch boxed cereal and find better ways of feeding ourselves first thing in the morning.

The first suggestion I have for a better morning meal on the go is pictured above. These guys are made from whole ingredients and have zero added sugar. In fact, the only sugar comes from fruit (raisins) and vegetables (carrots.) Sweet, huh?

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies
1 cup millet, pan toasted
3 cups water
3/4 cups walnuts, chopped and pan toasted
3 medium carrots, shredded
1 Tbl. organic butter
1/8 tsp. finely ground sea salt
1 cup raisins
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup rolled oats, pan toasted (not instant)
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 or 2 Tbl. water, as needed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place millet grains in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir while the grains toast. You’ll hear them crackling, so just keep mixing to avoid burning any. Next, add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
2. In the meantime, chop, shred and toast all other ingredients.
3. In a separate pan, heat butter over medium heat and add carrots. Cook for about 3 minutes so the carrots start to soften and give off their sweet taste.
4. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add a little water as needed to make everything stick together as you take handfuls and squeeze the mixture into balls about a 1.5″ in diameter. Carefully flatten the balls between your hands to shape into cookies and place on cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 30 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen cookies. Handle with care to avoid crumbling when they come out of the oven.

edited 4/20
In the interest of full disclosure…I’d like to add that the cookies crumbled quite a bit when i tried traveling with them! As a crumbled granola, they still tasted fantastic. But next time I might add an egg or two to keep them together as ‘cookies.’ Eh, live and learn, right?

The next suggestion I have comes from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen. Whether you are a raw foodist or a steak lover, you can’t beat the ease of this recipe. Now THIS is a whole grain breakfast cereal:

Buckwheat Crispies
Raw buckwheat groats (try about a pound to start)

1. Let soak overnight covered in water. Make sure there is enough water to keep ’em covered even as the absorb and expand.
2. Drain and place on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 104 degrees for 3-5 hours until totally dry. If you don’t have a dehydrator (because I’m not delusional, I realized not everyone has a dehydrator! ) you can use your oven at it’s lowest setting, maybe 200 degrees. This will be too hot to keep the live enzymes of the buckwheat alive, but you’ll still end up with a great, low-cost whole grain breakfast.
3. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Serve with your choice of milk, fresh fruit or plain yogurt. Add flavor with nuts and raisins, etc. Ok, a dollop of maple syrup maybe 🙂

This post does double duty: once for The Nourishing Gourmet’s Breakfast Carnival, and once for Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday.

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