Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Breakfast Millet with Buttered Apple

Breakfast really is an important meal of the day and it's all too easy to discount it by eating something on the run or skipping it altogether.

Having said that often I don't feel like eating as soon as I get out of bed and so I don't, instead, I'll jump-start my system by drinking a class of warm water mixed with the juice of half a lemon or lime.

Warm lemon water stimulates the digestive system; it's a great liver tonic and it alkalizes the blood which means the health benefits of this beverage are enormous.

And I really do find that lemon water wakes up my digestion so that I feel ready to eat something before I leave the house.

Like most people, some mornings I'm hungrier than others. Regardless, I do try and eat a nutrient-rich breakfast consisting of a combination of protein, grains, fruit, good oils and minimal saturated fat -- I just adjust the portion size depending on my appetite.

Coming up with interesting and healthy combos of the above is challenging, hence my featuring whole grain cereals with-a-difference this week; I'm hoping to encourage readers to do away with boxed cereals and instead try their hand at creating healthy, budget breakfasts from scratch.

Today's grain is millet: An alkaline, gluten-free, vitamin B-rich grain, millet is considered a high-quality protein (half a cup contains 5 g of protein).

And as with oatmeal and polenta (featured yesterday), it's about a dollar a pound, if you buy it in bulk.

So I'm not scrambling in the morning cooking it, I like to prepare the millet ahead of time ...

Millet & Buttered Apple Breakfast
1) The night before, add one cup of millet to 3 cups of water, bring to the boil, cover, and turn heat to low, cooking for about 15 mins.
Plain cooked millet is an acquired taste so you might like to add your favorite spices and dried fruits to the pot (see yesterday's post for ideas). Turn heat off; let it stand for another 15 mins and then decant it into a container and store in the fridge.
2) The following morning, scoop a portion either into a bowl for heating in the microwave or into a pot for heating on the stove. Either way, add a little water for heating.
3) Meanwhile slice half an apple into pieces and saute in a pan with some butter and if you wish, some brown sugar. Brown the apple on low heat.
4) Top the hot millet with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, the browned apple, and some nuts of your choice, I used pistachio nuts (pic above); finish with honey, maple syrup or agave.

It's the toppings added to the cooked millet that enhances both the flavor of this grain and the overall nutrient value of the meal.

The seeds and nuts contain the kind of "good oils" I refer to above, the buttered apple a small fruit portion, and in combination the resulting breakfast is rich in protein and fiber, low in saturated fat, but high in essential fatty acids.

If you were to add yogurt or kefir, obviously the protein and calcium quotient would increase. Also, kefir contains probiotics -- an important addition to any breakfast should your digestion need to be replenished with healthy bacteria.

Back in May last year, I featured quinoa as a versatile, gluten-free, high protein grain -- one that can also be cooked ahead and served for breakfast. You might like to review the recipe I posted and the toppings I added. Those toppings could easily be served with millet and the millet toppings listed above would go well with quinoa.

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