Winter Breakfast: Try Other Grains With Your Oatmeal

Want to get a little more out of your morning oatmeal? Try throwing in a handful or two of another grain for some different nutrients and extra protein - not to mention a more complex flavor and texture!

Start by substituting a few tablespoons of an alternate grain into your oatmeal or steel-cut oats, then adjust the ratio depending on your taste and mood. We keep a ratio of about 1 cup of total grain to 3-4 cups water, depending on how soft or firm you like your cereal.

If you cook all the grains together, quicker cooking grains will turn soft and porridge-y while longer cooking grains will retain their shape and individual texture. You could also add quicker-cooking grains toward the end of cooking so the cereal finishes at the same time.

Here are a few alternate grains to play around with:

Buckwheat - Buckwheat adds a strong grassy flavor and is high in protein. It also cooks at about the same speed as steel-cut oats (about 30 minutes), making it an easy addition. Toasted buckwheat is sometimes called "kasha" and we've found that it cooks a little quicker than regular buckwheat groats.

Quinoa - This grain has a distinctly sweet flavor, and once cooked, its texture is very soft. It's a complete protein and is high in fiber and iron. It cooks in about 15-20 minutes.

Amaranth - Amaranth is a tiny little grain with a malty-sweet flavor. The grains tend to break down completely during cooking, so it's perfect for a soft morning porridge. It will cook in about 20 minutes.

Spelt - Chewy and nutty, grains of this high-protein cereal stay separate and distinct. It takes a bit longer to cook, though - an hour or even more - so we like to cook it separately ahead of time and then stir it into our oatmeal just before eating.

Farro - Similar to spelt in flavor, texture, and nutritional value, but it cooks much more quickly! Farro will be done in about 45 minutes.

Do you mix other grains into your morning oatmeal?

Related: Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipe Review: Oatmeal Clafoutis Bars

(Image: Flickr member kthread licensed under Creative Commons)

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