Hot cereal is a dish that is cooked, served hot, and often eaten for breakfast. In most locations hot cereal is made from a grain or cereal. However, there are lots of options for delicious breakfast porridge made from a grains, pseudocereals, and several other
Types of Hot Cereal
Oatmeal – Oatmeal is the most common hot cereal in the world. It comes in a few different cuts including rolled oats and steel cut oats.
Oat Bran – Oat bran is a little different then oat meal because it is just the bran from the oats.
Wheat – Wheat is another hot cereal that is popular all over the world. You can find whole wheat berries in a few different varieties as well as ground wheat.
Wheat Germ – This is the germ of the wheat and is a bit grainy in texture, but can make for a delicious hot cereal or a delicious addition to your cereal.
Cornmeal Mush – Cornmeal mush can be made from just regular cornmeal. Others come in different textures and include dishes such as grits (southern United States) and polenta (Italian).
Rye Flakes – Rye flakes are just what they sound like. They have been rolled in a similar way as rolled oats for oatmeal.
Rice Flakes – Rice is a lot harder than oats or rye, but it can still be rolled into a flake. These can then be cooked into a hot cereal.
Barley – You can consume whole barely as your breakfast cereal in a way similar to wheat berries or you can enjoy barely flakes as well.
Millet – Millet isn't a grain, but rather a seed. None the less, this seed can make a great hot cereal.
Quinoa – Another seed that is often consumed at breakfast as a hot cereal is quinoa which comes in a few different colors. Often quinoa is served as a side dish. However, you can enjoy it as a savory breakfast dish or add sweeteners, spices, and or fruit for a sweet variety.
Buckwheat – Buckwheat is another variety of hot cereal that isn't really a cereal. However, the seeds can make a delicious hot cereal option.
Amaranth – This herbs seeds can also be cooked in order to make a delicious hot cereal.
Multi-grain - There are a lot of different brands out there that sell multi-grain hot cereals. Often these include 3, 5, or 9 grains, but can be found in almost any denomination. They can include any of the grains, seeds, or pseudocereal. It can also include other ingredients such as flax seeds.
Farina – Farina is generally seen as a “cream of” cereal. You can find cream of wheat, cream of rice, and other hot cereals. These are often very smooth and easy to eat even for young children (many are fed as baby food) and they can be purchased under a number of names.
Couscous – This Mediterranean pasta can also make a good breakfast cereal. It tastes delicious when mixed with sweeteners, berries, and spices.
Rice – While this is definitely an Eastern idea, rice can also be eaten in the morning. You can use fresh rice or choose to use up leftover rices this way. There are a lot of different rices and choosing a darker colored one will make it even healthier.
Legumes – Many people don't consider legumes a breakfast food, but lots of cultures enjoy them including Ethiopians. If you are really wanting a change you may want to consider chick peas, yellow peas, and or soy beans. Pease porridge, made from dried peas, is a traditional dish in England and Scotland.
Potatoes – Another less traditional dish here in the west is potato porridge. However, you make a hot “cereal” from it and mix it with milk and savory flavorings much like mashed potatoes or you can make a sweetened variety.
What's the Healthiest Choice?
When it comes to figuring out which one is the healthiest you have to consider a few things and choose your options from there.
- Whole Grains – Any time that you look at a food you should consider what it's made out of and how close to the original it is in its creation. This can be a little harder when you are including more than just grains, but you want it to be as closes to how it was made as possible and have seen the least amount of processing. For example, wheat berries are much healthier than cream of wheat. When looking for the healthiest choices you want to choose those that you enjoy that are closest to how nature made them.
- Color Conscious – Another idea is to consider the color. As a rule of thumb those items that are darker have more nutrients. This is a little harder with grains since many of them are lighter, but can still be kept in mind.
- Additives – Another thought is what you will be adding to that food to make it palatable. Even the most healthiest grain or hot cereal choice can really go down hill if you are adding a lot of junk to it to make it tasty.
- Edible – Even the best of intentions don't go far if you won't eat them. So choosing something that's really good for you won't do you any good if it never gets off of the shelf. That 9 grain hot cereal sounds like a good option, but your body won't get any benefits from it if you eat Fruit Loops instead.
Flavoring Hot Cereal
You can add whatever you want to your hot cereal. However, there are really two options of where to take your taste buds with the hot cereal or porridge of choice. The most common choice is one that is sweet. You can use a lot of choices.
Sweeteners – You can use sugar (white, raw, brown), honey, agave nectar, or jam are all common choices.
Fruit – There are a lot of different fruits as well. You can choose dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries, or even apples. You can also choose fresh fruits such as berries (of any kind including strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries), apples, ore bananas. You can also use frozen fruits.
Spice – Your spice choices include cinnamon, nutmeg, or even cloves. You can also add a mix such as apple pie spice or pumpkin pie mix.
Creaminess – In order to make your hot cereal creamier you can add milk (cow, goat, almond, soy, or any other milk you wish), milk powder, or condensed or sweetened milk. You can also add yogurt.
Extracts – You can also add extracts. There are lots of options, but some common ones include vanilla, almond, and even lemon.
Nuts – Chopped nuts can also be a nice addition and can go well with a variety of different options. You can also add some nut butter to the mix.
Another choice that is less common in the West is a savory dish. While savory grits is a common choice in the South, there aren't as many savory choices here. However, there are still a lot of choices you can make for something more savory.
Creaminess – You can still add plenty of creaminess with any milk you want or plain yogurt.
Butter – Butter or margarine is a great choice for adding a bit of savory to the dish.
Meats – There are a number of meat options you can use including the common breakfast meats such as bacon, ham, or sausage.
Vegetables – You can add onions, peppers, and a number of other delicious vegetables.
Eggs – You can also mix eggs into your hot cereal and porridge.
Herbs and Spices – You can use any herbs or spices that you like to flavor your foods with. Garlic powder, onion powder, chives, dried herbs, and so forth are all good choices.
Broth – A common way to make hot cereals savory is to cook them in broth or soup base instead of water or milk. You can choose chicken, beef, or vegetable brothers, bases, or stocks.
Hot cereal is a great way to get in some very healthy food choices and to mix up your breakfast options. You want to make sure that what you are putting on it is healthy for you as well so that you don't just add a lot of calories, fats, and sugars to what was a healthy breakfast. With careful choices you can have a delicious bowl of hot cereal that is still good for you!