what’s for breakfast?

June 03, 2010

Lately I’ve been trying to find ways to decrease our grocery bill while increasing our healthy eating.  One of our favorite things to do is eat.  We love food.  Iowa City is a great supporter of our passion.  Every Saturday Andy (www.andrewcasto.com), Amari (no website yet) and I walk to the farmer’s market downtown and get at least half of our week’s worth of fresh produce.  A month ago Danielle (www.daniellekimzey.com) and I even bought some of our own vegetables to plant in her backyard (I’m sure there will be updates on this in the weeks to come).  Most of our other groceries come from the local Co-op, and if we choose to go out to eat, there are sooo many wonderful locally owned choices who are cooking local fresh food (www.devotay.net is still our favorite).  So in thinking about spending less money and eating even more healthy, I decided to make a change in our breakfast menu. Most mornings we are now eating one of two things in the morning: homemade oatmeal or homemade cereal.  Read the secret to making these tasty and healthy in the recipes listed below.

Homemade Oatmeal:

I know, my first thought is pass the brown sugar or chocolate chips because that is the only way I am getting this pasty shellac to go down… but leave it to Amari joining our breakfast table to inspire a new tasty and healthy twist.  First, I prepare the oatmeal (rolled oats) on the stove with water and no salt. While the oatmeal is simmering I am busy pulling things out of my fridge and  cabinet to throw into the food processor.  I never used the food processor until Amari started eating solids, but this my friends, is my new favorite kitchen tool!

Process any or all of the following in the food processor (or make up your own favorites):

Fresh fruit: bananas, apples, and/or strawberries to name a few that we use

About a ¼ C of your favorite kind of milk

A handful of dried fruit (raisins and prunes are our favorites)

A spoonful or two of peanut butter or almond butter

1 or 2 Kale leaves – remove stem first (great source of nutrients and really adds a nice hint of green flavor- don’t be afraid!)

a dash of cinnamon

Once you have your additions nice and blended, add in your cooked oatmeal and process it all together.  The change in the oatmeal texture is so nice, and the whole family loves it!  And since it is hot when you make it, it has forced us all to sit down at the rarely used dinning room table to enjoy breakfast together before we all depart and do our own things for the day!

Homemade Cereal/granola:

Cereal used to be one of our family’s main food groups which filled us with carbs and drained the milk in the fridge faster than we could get home from the grocery with another carton (a real money suck since we mostly drink almond milk). The oatmeal really solves this problem, but sometimes you just need a bowl full of milk and crunchy goodness.  So here is my “loose” recipe for homemade granola.  My mom posted this recipe on fb a few months ago and if you like to follow directions, this is quite yummy: http://www.joyfulabode.com/2008/04/11/homemade-granola-bar-recipe-no-high-fructose-corn-syrup-in-these-bars/- but I prefer to just use what I have in my cabinet and experiment with using less sugar and bad fats.

I am not very good at remembering to measure my ingredients when I’m experimenting… I’m guessing this is about 6 cups of dry ingredients- it fills a 9 X 13 pan to the height of good brownies.

Dry ingredients- Any combo of the following:

Rolled oats (the main ingredient)

Wheat germ

Oat bran

Shredded coconut


Protein powder (add after toasting the other dry ingredients)

Mix together and toast above ingredients at 400 degrees in a 9 X 13 pan for about 12 minutes- stirring every once and awhile to keep the top from burning.  Pull out of the oven and add in a handful or two of your favorite dried fruit.  Set aside for a moment.

In a saucepan (if it is large, you can use it for the mixing later- one less dish to wash)  on medium heat melt and stir together any combo of the following:

4 Tbs. natural peanut butter and/or Butter

1 C honey, Brown Sugar, and/or maple syrup

2ish tsp. of vanilla

½ tsp. salt

Obviously if you want more protein add more peanut butter than butter… and feel free to experiment with using less of the sugar additives!  You could also experiment with sweetening with apple juice or something of that nature (I’ve never done it).  If you use the peanut butter option you might want to add some milk or yogurt to allow the liquid mixture to mix into the dry ingredients more easily. Once your liquid ingredients are well blended mix in the dry ingredients then spread back into the 9X13 pan , now lined with waxed paper.  Press and compact granola flat using another piece of waxed paper on top of the granola and pressing down with your hands.  When cooled break apart for yummy granola cereal or cut into bars for on-the-go breakfast bars (if you choose to do the bars having enough liquid so they will stick together is essential).

Enjoy inventing your new breakfast and get your family back to the table together.

Please share  more ingredient ideas if you have your own favorites!

Comments (6) | More: blog

6 Comments to “what’s for breakfast?”

  1. Papa says:


    This sounds like a great adventure that will have more benefits than ever – I am convinced after watching “Supersize It” and “Food Inc.” Now, I am very leery about store bought and esp. processed food.

    I have also been doing a lot of research on foods in relation to cancer, since most of the males on my side of the family died of cancer or had it when they died….I want to make sure I’m around to meet all my grandchildren and, if so blessed, my great grandchildren.

    Processed food is out and we also are on a journey of healthy food and a healthy diet as well….organic, more fruits and vegetables, and almost no processed….esp on our trips to Iowa and Atlanta – need to think before leaving about what we’ll want and not go with the convenient, but prepare for the healthy!

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • admin says:

      I’m really proud of your journey too! Needless to say growing up in a house where it is cool to put orange juice on your cherrios when out of milk has inspired some flexible edible thinking… Glad we are all moving closer to healthy and becoming more conscience of what we are eating… you should read some of Michael Pollan’s books! Great stuff… I have a quote of sorts from him in my next blog. Thanks for reading my blog!

  2. Clark says:


  3. Grandpa Mike says:

    First – I love the pictures and the words. I know what to do with the pictures. Not so much the words – but who knows, someday maybe I’ll get there. Right now I have so much trouble coping with my dietary restrictions I feel like I’m a Hasidic Jew!

    I’ve just ordered for you Wendell Berry’s 1982 book “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture”. Berry is a Kentucky farmer, author and poet – a favorite of Bogie and Gerry Dunn. This book was on last June’s Newsweek list of “What to read now. And why.” 50 books which according to Newsweek “open a window on the times we live in, whether they deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways.”

    More to the point, this 1982 work of Berry is often seen as one of the seminal books which serves as a philosophical foundation for a”slow food” movement, the value of family farms, organic agriculture, farming and the environment, and a host of other issues that are imbedded in your wonderful approach to breakfast.

    If all this sounds a bit heady and beyond the scope of the wholesome and earthy recipes you have offered, I would encourage you to read the opening few sentences. Ponder their irony, humor and wisdom, and I’m sure you’ll be hooked.

    The book should arrive next week. Enjoy!

    • admin says:

      Thank you Mike! I am looking forward to reading this highly recommended book and so excited that you are having it sent to me. Who knew I would receive special gifts from people reading my blog?! I am also very honored to have something that meant a lot to Bogie and Gerry. I wish I had had the chance to meet Bogie… having spent a little time with Gerry I see why you all cared for them so much! I hope to find some time to watch these videos too. As far as your dietary restrictions go… I think we all do what we are capable of handling, I know you have made some big changes that are huge for you, and that’s important! I think enjoying food and not being stressed about it is also important! So enjoy that hamburger well done! :-)

  4. Grandpa Mike says:

    One other thing – there are two marvelous videos of/about Wendell Berry on youtube. One is an introduction of Berry by Bill McKibben, one of the early scientific advocates of action on global warming and author of “Eaarth” – his current take on the issue which I’m about to begin. The other is a 27 min interview of Berry at the Wisconsin Book Festival – a truly remarkable and wonderful opportunity to get to know this great and gentle man.