Have you ever learned a bit of information and then immediately wished you could “unlearn” it? Well, this is just such information, so I won’t blame you if you click away now!
Cereal has always been the Belle of the Ball when it comes to quick and easy breakfasts for busy families on the go. Revered for its high vitamin content and luring us in with healthy promises of “organic”, “high in fiber” and “fortified with iron”, these boxed breakfast cereals have been deceiving us for years.
Truth be told, boxed breakfast cereals are one of the unhealthiest foods on the grocery store shelves! The so called “vitamins” they’ve been fortified with are synthetic, the grains used to make the cereals are usually sprayed with toxic chemicals (unless they’re organic, but that’s another issue), many are colored with artificial food dyes and contain more sugar in one serving than most should have in an entire day.
The worst part is that organic, whole-grain and low-sugar cereals are no better. Because organic cereals are typically made with whole grains, they contain more protein. This sounds good initially, but during the extrusion process (where grains are liquified using high heat and pressure, then formed into whatever flake, puff or shape desired), the high heat and pressure can cause the protein in the grain to become toxic and highly allergenic. So whole grains equal more protein, but more protein in this case can also equal a more toxic cereal.
Organic or not, these breakfast cereals are hard for our bodies to digest, and could potentially be a culprit of inflammation, auto-immune diseases and Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Without boxed cereals, what’s a busy family to do on those rushed mornings that don’t leave time to cook a healthy breakfast? Thankfully, with a little planning ahead, there are options that are just as simple and much more nutritious. OK, maybe not quite as simple as tearing open a box and pouring some milk on top, but nearly. (Why raw milk is best)
If you can bake a cake, you can make homemade cereal, because that’s actually the first step! This recipe is sweet (but not too sweet), crunchy and tastes like a cross between Cracklin’ Oat Bran and Grape-Nuts. Top it off with a sliced banana or some berries and you’ll be satisfied until lunch. It’s a breakfast filled with quality protein and healthy whole-grains. Add in the raw milk and berries and you've got vitamins, minerals, quality fats and antioxidants.
The following recipe has been adapted from the cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and can easily be doubled to make a larger batch, if needed.
• 6 cups organic whole wheat flour (freshly ground)
• 3 cups homemade yogurt*
• 3/4 cup organic coconut oil (melted)
• 1 cup organic maple syrup
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1 Tbsp organic vanilla extract
• 1 Tbsp maple flavoring
• 3 Tbsp organic ground cinnamon
* Milk kefir, buttermilk or clabbered milk can be used in place of the yogurt. For a dairy-free option, use 3 cups water plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar.
For full nutritional benefits, allow for a 24-hour soak time of your flour. You can soak as little as 8 hours, or up to 36 hours, but soaking is necessary to neutralize the phytic acids in the flour.
1. Using a grain mill or high powered blender designed for grinding grain (like a Vitamix or BlendTech), grind 6 cups of fresh flour. (If grinding your own grain is not an option, six cups of pre-ground flour will work too). Place flour into a large bowl.
2. Add yogurt to the flour and mix well (using your hands works well for this task).
3. Eight to 36 hours later, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add remaining ingredients to the soaked flour and stir to combine (or use a stand mixer).
4. Line a full-sized sheet pan (or two half-sheet pans) with parchment paper and pour batter evenly onto the pan(s). Bake for 30 minutes (20 minutes if using a convection oven) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do NOT over-bake!
5. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan. After the cake has cooled, crumble into bite sized pieces (see photo for size reference). Bake again at 200 degrees for 6 to 12 hours, or use a dehydrator. Stir cereal once or twice during dehydrating to allow all pieces to dry evenly.
Once cereal is dry and crunchy, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Kelsey Steffen is an aspiring farmer, wife, mom of four (with one on the way), and home-school educator in North Idaho. Join Kelsey and her family over at Full of Days as they blog about life in the Steffen household, and follow along on Facebook and Twitter. Read all of Kelsey’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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