Posted in Healthy Eating

For Breakfast, Think Outside of the Cereal Box - By Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE

By the time January rolls around, most of us have settled into a cold winter weather routine.  For me, this means starting the day with a bowl of hot cereal.


If you like hot cereal at breakfast and find yourself reaching for an instant oatmeal packet, I invite you to consider a few new possibilities. Many cooked whole grains can be used for breakfast cereal, and have the benefit of more fiber, superior nutritional value, and little to no processing.


Oatmeal aficionados will tell you that the wonderful, nutty flavor and texture of steel cut oats will change your mind about oatmeal packets forever. I have to agree. Some people are reluctant to try this form of oatmeal because of the extra time it takes to make the cereal in the morning.


Here’s an easy solution to the time problem: cook the night before. Bring 1 cup steel cut oats and 4 cups of water to a full boil for 2 minutes or so. Remove the oatmeal from the heat source and cover the pot. When the pot of cereal has cooled down, you can put the cereal mixture in a covered container and store it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you will have 4-6 servings of the oatmeal ready to portion out and heat in the microwave each morning. The microwave time is about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on the high setting and it doesn’t get much easier than that!  


Once I realized the ease of this preparation method, I began to substitute other whole grains to vary the hot cereal choices. I was pleasantly surprised with my results and have now added quinoa, buckwheat groats, and wheat berries to my cereal list. All are simple, unprocessed whole grains that make very satisfying breakfast cereals! The larger size of the grains will, of course, require a longer initial cooking times ranging from 15-45 minutes before you store it overnight.


Start a pot of grains on the stove top while you clean up after dinner and you’re done! The things you can add to cooked whole grain cereals are limited only by your imagination. Fresh cut up fruit, dried fruit, walnuts, sunflower seeds or a bit of honey are just a few of the additions you can make while you create brand new breakfast possibilities!


Cooking Times for Breakfast Grains:


1 cup Wheat Berries to 3 cups Water: Cook covered on medium-high until wheat berries are plump & chewy (about 60 minutes)


1 cup Quinoa to 2 cups Water: Bring to boil then cover & simmer 10-15 minutes


1 cup Buckwheat Groats to 2 cups Water: Bring to boil then cover & simmer 15 minutes


Want to learn more about different types of oatmeal? Check out my YouTube video on the subject.


Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, author and Certified Wellcoach®. Gretchen has worked with hundreds of clients in her own private nutrition practice since 2002, providing nutrition and wellness coaching in the areas of diabetes, weight management, food sensitivities, and general wellness. Gretchen provides lectures and workshops on a variety of nutrition topics to corporate and community groups.  She is the author of the "Pre-Diabetes: Your Second Chance at Health," and "The Everything Guide to Managing and Reversing Prediabetes".  If you would like to learn more about Gretchen, or read her newsletter visit


This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit