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The benefits of cereal and milk for breakfast, with a portion or two of fruit added, are widely accepted within the nutritional community.
Studies have shown that a balanced healthy breakfast is composed of –
A 30g serving of wholegrains
A 150g portion of fruit
A 250ml serving of milk
So, it is all good to go on that granola!
Why are cereals important in our diet?
The question of the importance of cereals in our diet is a divisive one. Partly carbohydrate conundrum, with issues of gluten involved, and concern over phytic acid thrown in, the eating of grains is certainly a contentious topic. Largely, we agree on the fact that over-consumption of refined grains can lead to health problems. Yet there are many benefits associated with wholegrains.
Wholegrains are the seeds of grass type plants called cereals. Rice, wheat and sorghum are all grains. Buckwheat and quinoa are pseudo-cereals. Intact, with minimal processing, they contain a wide range of minerals, vitamins, fibre, fat, protein and carbohydrate.
A regular diet of wholegrains may help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke and regulate blood sugar levels. Wholegrains are excellent for digestive health because they are full of fibre. Grains are also a comparatively low cost food, providing bulk to our diet.
For those of us with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance it can be simpler to avoid eating grains altogether but there are gluten-free grains out there. Which makes it possible to find gluten-free granola. Yay!
Sorghum and rice are both true grains that are gluten-free. Buckwheat and quinoa are not true grains, although they are gluten free.
Is quinoa a cereal grain?
Quinoa is technically not a grain but a seed belonging to a family of leafy plants, not grasses. By definition, cereal grains belong to the family of plants known as grasses. However, quinoa is generally grouped together with wholegrains and is an excellent gluten-free grain alternative. As well as being free of gluten, quinoa is high in protein and a great source of all nine essential amino acids. It also provides fibre, iron, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Is granola cereal?
Granola is one of the most popular breakfast cereals around. Made from cereal grains it most certainly classifies as cereal. Often made with oats as a base, granola is now available in many forms beyond the classic oat/fat/sugar scenario. One of our most popular varieties is a gluten-free granola made with quinoa, rice, sorghum and buckwheat.
As a gluten-free option, cereal made from buckwheat is becoming increasingly popular. Like quinoa, buckwheat is actually a seed. It has a robust nutty flavour with a slightly bitter undertone and is, in fact, what soba noodles are made from.
Is cereal with almond milk healthy?
Although nutritionists agree on the benefits of cereal and milk for breakfast, and that dairy forms an important part of that particular nutritional combo, there is an increasing number of people turning to non-dairy milks such as almond milk. Commercial almond milk often has added ingredients in the form of fillers and preservatives. It can also have added sugar. It is however easy enough to make your almond milk at home with just almonds and water. Many shop-bought almond milks do have the benefit of being fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. Chipped and broken grades of Almonds can be a perfect way to buy these highly nutritional nuts for food ingredients where presentation of the kernel is not important.
The nutritional quality of your breakfast not only depends on choosing wholegrains but also making sure that you only opt for low-sugar cereals too. Many brands of wholegrain cereal will be full of added sugar, so again it is a matter of reading the label carefully.
Many cereals are vegan. Look for good quality varieties and always read the label. You can find out here what goes into the best granola. Usually it is the choice of milk that determines how vegan your breakfast is so stick with something like almond milk and you are good to go.
How much cereal should you eat for breakfast?
The recommended portion of cereal is 30g. The only way to be accurate with this is to weigh it. If you stick to the same cereal you can measure your weighed portion of cereal so that you do not need to weigh it every time. For a new cereal though, it is best to weigh it out.
Does eating cereal make you gain weight?
You shouldn’t gain weight by eating cereal if you stick to the recommended portion size and always choose low-sugar varieties. There is some evidence that cereal can help to control weight. If it has plenty of fibre it can help to fill you up and satiate hunger, as well as control blood sugar levels and aid insulin resistance. It is also suggested that magnesium can help to burn calories more efficiently.
The forerunner to overnight oats, Bircher muesli is a healthy breakfast favourite.
The soaked oats take on a softly different texture to porridge, in a dish that is easy to eat and easy to digest. Which is ideal for the first meal of the day.
Closely related to both muesli and granola, it can be oddly decadent in spite of its wholesome credentials.
What is Bircher muesli?
Bircher muesli was created in the early 1900s by Maximilian Bircher-Brenner. A Swiss doctor, he created the recipe as a way of getting more fruit into his patients. More specifically, apples, which he considered particularly nutritious. A simple recipe of oats, milk, nuts and apples soaked together overnight, it was a soft and easily digestible breakfast for his sanitorium patients. So of course Bircher Muesli is another one of the low sugar cereal products.
Is Bircher muesli healthy?
Like most foods, it can only be as healthy as the ingredients that you make it with. Made with cream and lots of nuts it will be more heavy on calories than if you soak it in water. Made with the four basic ingredients, this healthy breakfast comes with a range of benefits.
Oats are full of fibre, some of which is soluble, that gives an extended feeling of fullness and prevents blood sugar spikes. Magnesium present in oats helps to regulate insulin secretion and they also contain a natural sedative. With plenty of vitamins and minerals, oats are a great source of all round goodness. But have you ever wondered if oats are gluten free?
Maximilian was right about apples; an often overlooked fruit. They also help to regulate blood sugar levels and are a source of soluble fibre. Many of the compounds found in apples improve metabolic balance. Always eat the skin as it contains fibre and may help prevent osteoporosis. Apples are waxed for shelf life, so wash them thoroughly in warm soapy water and rinse well before eating. Allowing the apple to brown a little after grated can help it become more easily digestible. Apples are also a source of vitamin C and iron.
Adding nuts increases the protein content as well as the fibre. Always eat nuts with the skin on to keep the nutrient profile intact. Nuts also provide many essential fatty acids. Almonds are rich in zinc, magnesium, and potassium as well as antioxidant vitamin E. Hazelnuts are rich in antioxidants and contain biotin, a substance that is really good for strong healthy skin and hair.
Using dairy milk, from cows, sheep, or goats, adds the benefit of calcium and vitamin D. Dairy foods also provide vitamin B12 which is essential for a healthy brain and nervous system. Vitamin B3 in dairy milk can also help to burn more calories. Choose full fat milk as it retains the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Can you eat Bircher muesli without soaking?
Bircher muesli by default is soaked. Not soaked, it becomes, well, muesli. The soaking process not only makes the oats more digestible by softening them, but helps to break down a substance called phytic acid. Present in all grains (which is why grains are not part of a Paleo diet), phytic acid binds to certain minerals and reduces the uptake of minerals present in the food. You can also include the nuts in the soaking process for the same reason, but they do take on a softer less crunchy texture.
Is Bircher muesli gluten free?
Oats themselves are not gluten free yet low in gluten and are often processed alongside wheat and other cereals so tend to be avoided by those with serious issues around gluten, such as coeliacs. Oats that are not 100% gluten free although some are labelled as such, and some commercial muesli blends will contain other gluten-containing cereals.
How to make Bircher muesli
Bircher muesli is made by soaking oats in a liquid overnight, and then adding grated apple and nuts. It will keep in the fridge for about 3 days and can be frozen if required.
Vegan Bircher muesli
Making this soft creamy breakfast vegan is easy. Simply use juice, water or non-dairy milk. Nutty almond milk works particularly well, as does creamy oat milk.
Paleo Bircher muesli
Strictly speaking, the Paleo diet is open to personal interpretation depending on the foods you feel your body can tolerate. But in general, whether they contain gluten or not, grains are eliminated from the Paleo diet. You could experiment with some combination of coconut flakes, almond meal, and chia seeds but the results will be a vague approximation rather than a substitute. We think you are far better off with Paleo muesli or granola of nuts, seeds and fruits instead.
Basic Bircher muesli recipe
Soaked overnight, it becomes a soft and simple moreish thing. For the liquid you could use water, apple juice, milk, or for a touch of luxury, mix of half milk/half cream. The classic nuts would be hazelnuts, but you could use almonds, pecans, or walnuts.
You could make bircher muesli with our multigrain porridge oats, or try a bircher muesli mix instead of just oats.
1 apple, coarsely grated
1/4 cup nuts, chopped
- Mix the liquid with the oats and soak in the fridge overnight.
- Stir in the grated apple.
- Top with the nuts and enjoy.
Have you tried Bircher porridge? Make it just like you would regular porridge, but use a Bircher muesli like our Hinterland Bircher Muesli. It’s ideal for winter and packed full of yummy things that will make your morning porridge a bit more interesting.