Ancient grains make a modern breakfast

 , The New York Times  |  Updated: March 27, 2014 13:09 IST

Ancient grains make a modern breakfast
We know that a bowl of hot cereal on a weekday morning is sustaining, but it can also be delicious, even complex.

I make it interesting by adding surprising little grains like amaranth to the familiar ones, like oatmeal or steel-cut oats. I also stir in grated apple, which adds a fresh, zesty dimension, as well as raisins and maple syrup, a breakfast sweetener that I don't reserve for pancakes.

I've been working with intriguing "ancient grains" like amaranth and teff, trying to figure out a way to incorporate these nutrient-dense foods into my diet, and this is a great place for them. I like amaranth because the little seeds (technically it's a seed, not a grain) contribute texture to the porridge. The flavor is both grassy and nutty.

I always try to eat this breakfast on the days that I have an early workout. It really does help my stamina. I need to get out the door quickly on these mornings, so I begin the cooking process the night before, pouring boiling water over the oats and any other grains or seeds I may be using. They soak overnight, softening while retaining their texture.

The next morning all I need to do is cook the mixture in the microwave for 2 to 4 minutes. You could make it on the stovetop instead, though it doesn't make much of a difference in the final product. It takes just a minute or two longer.

It's a great breakfast and it requires no more fuss than a bowl of cold cereal with milk. But it's so much more satisfying.

Rolled Oats With Amaranth Seeds, Maple Syrup and Apple
Time: 5 minutes, plus overnight soaking

Yield: 1 generous serving

1/3 cup rolled oats

1 tablespoon amaranth seeds

Generous pinch of salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon golden raisins

1 teaspoon maple syrup, more for drizzling

1/4 apple

Milk and/or chopped toasted walnuts or almonds, for topping (optional)

1. Stir together oats, amaranth seeds, salt and raisins in a medium-size microwave-proof bowl. Bring 2/3 cup water to a boil and pour over mixture. Add maple syrup and stir together, then cover bowl with a plate and leave it out on the counter overnight. (You can refrigerate if you prefer.)

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2. In the morning, place bowl (still covered by the plate) in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes on 100 percent power. Remove from the microwave and very carefully remove plate from top of bowl. (Bowl will be hot, and steam will rise from cereal.) Stir the mixture. If it is not yet thick, cover again and return to microwave. Cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, until the mixture is no longer watery.

3. Transfer to a serving dish. Coarsely grate apple over cereal and stir in. Drizzle on more maple syrup and, if desired, add a little milk, and walnuts or almonds.
Note: To cook on the stovetop, use a small saucepan rather than a bowl in Step 1. In the morning, heat the oatmeal in the pot over medium heat, and when it begins to simmer, stir until thick. This process should take only about 5 minutes.

Comments© 2014 New York Times News Service

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