BASICS, BREAKFASTS, TRENDING

BREAKFAST: Hot Cereals

Basic Oatmeal

THIS IS MY go-to quick and easy breakfast. Oatmeal is a filling meal, and it can be made with any number of additions—fresh or dried fruit, cinnamon or vanilla, toasted nuts, coconut, or any combination of those.

SERVES 2

1 cup rolled oats

2 cups plant-based milk, or water

Salt to taste

Add the oats, plant-based milk, and salt to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the oats become creamy.

Slow-Cooked Steel-Cut Oats

STEEL-CUT OATS MAKE a filling, healthy breakfast, but a stove top method requires cooking them 1½ hours before you want to eat. If you start this dish the night before in your slow cooker, breakfast will be ready when you are.

SERVES 2

1 cup steel-cut oats

2 cups chopped dried apple

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped

1 cinnamon stick

Combine the oats, dried apple, dates, cinnamon stick, and 4 cups water in a 2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Cook for 8 hours, or until the oats are tender. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

Sweet Potato Pie Oatmeal

BRING YOUR OATMEAL to life with this recipe based upon my favorite pie. If you cook the sweet potato the night before, you’ll be ready to make this recipe quickly in the morning.

SERVES 2

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

½ cup date molasses

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon orange zest

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Pinch salt

Steam or boil the sweet potato until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and mash it and add it to a small saucepan with the oats, almond milk, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, orange zest, allspice, and salt. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the oats are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Breakfast Quinoa with Apple Compote

QUINOA IS A filling breakfast cereal and a nice change from the usual oatmeal. Make the compote the night before, and breakfast will be ready in less than 30 minutes the next morning.

SERVES 4

FOR THE QUINOA:

1½ cups quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 cinnamon stick

Salt to taste

FOR THE APPLE COMPOTE:

½ cup date molasses

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch ground nutmeg

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

TO MAKE THE QUINOA:

1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the quinoa, cinnamon stick, and salt. Cover the pot, bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

TO MAKE THE APPLE COMPOTE:

2. Place the molasses in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Add the dates, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest and juice and cook for 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender and start to break down.

3. To serve, divide the quinoa between individual bowls and top with the apple compote.

Congee with Dates and Spices

A STAPLE BREAKFAST food in China, congee is similar to gruel or porridge, and it can be made either savory or sweet. This is a delicious way to use up leftover rice.

SERVES 4

4 cups cooked brown rice

½ cup dates, pitted and chopped

½ cup chopped unsulfured apricots 

1 large cinnamon stick

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Salt to taste

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice, dates, apricots, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Season with salt. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

Brown Rice Breakfast Pudding

MY MOM USED to serve us a version of this for breakfast—cooked with milk, sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon. It is still one of my favorite breakfasts, although now I make a more wholesome version with almond milk and chopped dates.

SERVES 4

3 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 cinnamon stick

⅛ to ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, to taste

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped

1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), cored and chopped

¼ cup raisins

Salt to taste

¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted

Combine the rice, almond milk, cinnamon stick, cloves, and dates in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 12 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Add the apple, raisins, and salt. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving, and serve garnished with the toasted almonds.

Polenta with Dried Fruit Compote

THIS IS A perfect breakfast or a scrumptious dessert—you decide.

SERVES 4

1 batch Basic Polenta, kept warm

1 cup dried unsulfured apricots 

1 cup dried apple pieces or halves

1 cup golden raisins

½ cup brown rice syrup

1 strip lemon rind

1 cinnamon stick

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

1. Combine the apricots, apple, raisins, brown rice syrup, lemon rind, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover the fruit. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer until the fruit is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the lemon rind and cinnamon stick before serving.

2. To serve, divide the polenta between 4 individual bowls. Spoon the compote on top.

Polenta with Pears and Cranberries

USE THE RIPEST pears you can find in the market—Bosc, Asian, or D’Anjou—and fresh cranberries when they are in season (usually from October through December).

SERVES 4

1 batch Basic Polenta, kept warm

½ cup brown rice syrup

2 pears, peeled, cored, and diced

1 cup fresh or dried cranberries

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Heat the brown rice syrup in a medium saucepan. Add the pears, cranberries, and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are tender, about 10 minutes.

2. To serve, divide the polenta between 4 individual bowls and top with the pear compote.

Fruited Barley

BARLEY IS A hearty, filling grain and takes on the flavor of anything cooked with it. In this recipe, it is combined with orange juice, currants, and apricots to make a creamy breakfast cereal.

SERVES 2

1 to 1½ cups orange juice

1 cup pearled barley

2 tablespoons currants

3 to 4 dried unsulfured apricots, chopped 

1 small cinnamon stick

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch salt, or to taste

Bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of orange juice to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the barley, currants, apricots, cinnamon stick, cloves, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 45 minutes. If the barley is not tender after 45 minutes, add up to an additional ½ cup orange juice and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

Spelt Berry Hot Breakfast Cereal

SPELT IS AN ancient cousin of wheat, and it makes a hearty breakfast cereal. This recipe takes a little effort, but the flavor and health benefits make it well worth the time. You can cook the spelt berries the night before and finish the dish in about 15 minutes in the morning.

SERVES 2

1 cup spelt berries

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

¾ cup dates, pitted and chopped

¼ teaspoon orange zest

1. Bring 2½ cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the spelt, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the spelt is tender. Drain any excess water.

2. Add the almond milk, dates, and orange zest to the cooked spelt berries and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until heated through and creamy.

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