05 July 2013

Breakfast Like a King

Recently over in the Member's forum, the question came up about breakfast cereals, and was asked if $4.78 a box is cheap.

Wendy rightly asked how big the box was.

I jumped in and suggested that there are healthier, cheaper and tastier alternatives to a cold, packaged cereal for breakfast.

If you have guessed I am not a fan of breakfast cereals you are right!  In our house we have All Bran (Wayne loves it) and Weetbix. They are the limit of packaged cereals I buy. And the Weetbix are used for Shake-n-Bake, crumbing and cooking with just the occasional bowl for breakfast.

Instead we have eggs on toast. Two eggs and 2 slices wholegrain toast with butter costs around 55 cents per serve and contains a whole lot of protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Sure you can get some cereals for around that price too, but the good stuff in them is added - not naturally in the food as they are in the eggs on toast, and my eggs, butter and bread are preservative, colour and artificial flavour free, unlike boxed cereals (even if they say those things are natural, they are still added).

Omelettes are quick and easy for breakfast. Beat two eggs and pour into a heated fry pan. Add a layer of silverbeet or spinach, some diced tomato and some grated cheese. When the top looks like it is almost set fold it over and serve. Delicious, nutritious and cheap, especially if the eggs, silverbeet and tomatoes are homegrown and organic!

Or we might have porridge. Rolled oats is my favourite breakfast. They don't take long to cook in the morning and are deliciously creamy if they are soaked and then slow cooked. Before I turn out the lights each night I put 1/2 cup rolled oats in the saucepan and add a cup of cold water. Then I sit the lid on it and put it in the fridge. In the morning I cook the oats over a very low flame, stirring them occasionally until they boil and thicken - about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl, add some maple syrup or honey or raw sugar or stewed fruit and a little milk and breakfast is ready.  Rolled oats cost about 30 cents per serve.

Baked beans, left-over casserole or stew or grilled cheese on Vegemite toast with a slice or two of tomato are also favourites.

Cold winter mornings we all enjoy ground rice porridge with maple syrup and milk.

Weekends and holidays we enjoy pancakes or frittata, or freshly baked blueberry or corn and cheese muffins.

Most people say time is the biggest factor when it comes to serving cold, processed cereals for breakfast. It shouldn't be. Getting a cooked breakfast on the table  takes no more than 10 minutes. If  you genuinely don't have 10 minutes in the morning, set your alarm a little earlier and do as much breakfast prep as you can the night before.

When our children were, well children, I'd set the table, fill the kettle and get the toaster out before I went to bed. It only took about two minutes but it saved a lot of stress, and two minutes, in the morning. It was nice to get up and know that breakfast was almost ready too. Seeing that pretty table setting and getting a whiff of toasting bread encouraged appetite too, something that a lot of folk don't seem to have in the morning. I still get a head start on breakfast, 20 years on.  Even on the blahiest of blah mornings, we enjoy our breakfast.

Now if cold cereal really is your thing and you just can't live without it, try making your own. Ditch the fat, salt and sugar laden boxed breakfasts and opt for muesli or a delicious crunchy granola. Either toasted or raw, it will not only be better for you than a bought cereal but cheaper and much, much nicer.

I love crunchy granola but it's no longer available in Australia. The closest thing I've found to it is Quaker Granola, but it's hard to get here too, and when I find it I tremble at the price. Costco *sometimes* has it in stock, but it's not a regular on their shelves so I make my own. Takes about 5 minutes to mix, a few minutes to bake and it's done, and it has all my favourite things in it: oats, apricots, blueberries, mango, bran, coconut, sesame seeds and honey or maple syrup (real maple syrup, not MOO Pancake Syrup), coconut oil, almonds.

Toasted Muesli

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter), melted
2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 cups shredded coconut
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups nuts - almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pepitas
1 cup sultanas
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup dried mango, diced
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Method:
Preheat oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, spread evenly on baking paper on a biscuit sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden, turning after 10 minutes. When golden remove and cool immediately to get it crispy. The darker the muesli is the crunchier it will be. If you like a very crunchy muesli leave it for 23 - 25 minutes.

You can add whatever dried fruits you like, or have. I often add blueberries, craisins, sultanas, dried apple and dried pineapple. I also add bran and sesame seeds if I have them in the pantry.

It is a very flexible recipe, you can substitute or add ingredients or even leave them out if you don't like them.

Two tablespoons of Crunchy Granola with a 1/2 cup milk will keep you full until lunchtime, and give you the protein and energy you need to start your day.

There are so many healthier and more frugal options for breakfast than packaged cereals, please try them, even if it's just at the weekends. Your grocery budget will thank you and so will your body.

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