Eating those commercial breakfast cereals is as American as, well, dental cavities. Sorry, it’s a sad analogy. Being a cost-conscious guy, over the years I have fumed at paying dollars per pound for store-bought products made of grains costing pennies per pound. But my greater concern had to do with the unhealthiness of those products. So I created a breakfast we call Breakfast Compote. Composed of whole grains, nuts, and fruits, it’s not only healthier; it’s cheaper than the store-bought junk. And it’s pretty quick; our compote can be made in less than 10 minutes (with a little practice). This recipe is for two hungry people:
1. Prior day: To 1-1/4 cups hot water, add ¼ cup of cracked whole grains in a pan. Soak over night. (Our local whole foods store offers a nine-grain mixture, mostly cracked wheat. After finishing breakfast, I prepare the mixture for the next day and place it on the back of the stove to soak. For busy people, this saves drying and putting away the pan.)
2. Next morning: Bring the pot to a boil, add ¼ cup of rolled oats, and a similar amount of dried fruits, if desired. Turn off the heat and let sit for five minutes. (I buy my rolled oats from the same store. Cranberries are the dried fruit we mostly add. When fresh fruits are scarce, dried fruits can substitute.)
3. While the oats and dried fruits are cooking, prepare two bowls by adding to each:
-1 heaping tbsp of freshly ground flaxseed. (I get the flaxseed from the same store as the grains. Originally I ground it with a hand grinder, a good source of exercise, but now use a low-cost Cuisinart Spice and Nut Grinder for a finer grind.)
-2 heaping tbsp of crumbled pecans, or any freshly chopped nuts.
-A little honey, brown sugar, or grade B maple syrup, depending on the natural sweetness of the fruits added in step #4. (Or a few drops of stevia.)
-Season to taste with cinnamon, cardomon, or nutmeg. A few drops of vanilla works also.
4. Wash and prepare fruits in season, adding to each bowl:
-1/4 cup of berries. (Blueberries mostly, but using all the berries in their season.)
-1/4 cup chopped apple or peach. (Apples are available all year, peaches in summer. We love the peaches, but nectarines are good too.)
-1/2 orange, freshly juiced. (I use an old hand juicer, also good exercise. The orange juice provides a citrus fruit, while reducing or avoiding the need for milk, per your taste.)
5. Combine all ingredients into the bowls and enjoy. I like to add a little cream; it tastes good and can improve absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. (I would love to find a source of unpasteurized cream from pasture-fed cows.) If we have good whole-grain bread I also have some as toast with butter.
We enjoy this breakfast on weekdays then have a special breakfast on Saturday for variety. If you think of a way to make this healthier, tastier, or cheaper, please leave a comment. Or share your own ideas for a healthy start to the day.