What’s for Breakfast? Multi-Grain, Whole-Grain, Amazing Hot Cereal!

The Granary

In our kitchen we have a shelf we call the “Granary”.  It is mostly dried beans, and whole grains.  After years of these things being tucked away in a cabinet and never used, I one day decided they belong out in the open.

Consequently, I use them more.  Still, I wanted to find a better way to use the grains than just as a side dish or traditional soups, etc.  I thought about where in our normal diets we eat the most grain and of course breakfast was the obvious answer!  I would make my own whole grain cereal.

I like oatmeal, but I get sick of it.  Why must oats be the only grain we eat at breakfast?  So I took a look at the granary and decided I would make my own whole and multi grain cereal.

The makings of a great healthy breakfast

 I began with the grains I find most difficult to work into a meal, barley, millet, and steel cut oats.  These were also the grains which would cook the longest.

I then gathered the ingredients which would make it taste good, beyond the flavor of the grains.  I had dried dates, raisins, almonds, honey, and some seasoning.

It helps here to have a basic chart of how long and in how much liquid each grain needs to cook.  You can’t, for instance, throw rolled oats in with barley and cook them for the same time.  The result would be useful for, perhaps, some sort of mortar on an exterior wall.

So here is a basic chart.  If the grains you use are not on this chart it is simple enough to find the information.

Grain                Liquid to Grain              Cook Time

Barley                            3:1                              45 min

Millet                             3:1                              25 min

Steel Cut Oats               4:1                              20 min

Wheat Berries                3:1                              70 min

Brown Rice                    2 1/4:1                       35 min

Farro                               2:1                              25 min

Quinoa                            2:1                              15 min

Buckwheat                      2:1                              15 min

What this means is that you have to start with the sum of all the liquid you will need, and add the longest cooking grains first so that they all finish at the same time.  For example, if you made barley and quinoa together, and used a cup of each grain, you would need a total of 5 cups of liquid (3:1 and 2:1).  You would start the barley, cook for 30 minutes, and then add the quinoa, and cook for another 15 min.

I decided this day that I would use barley, steel cut oats, and brown rice.  I have since recreated this and highly recommend millet for its visual appeal, and quinoa for its texture.

I put the liquid in the pot.  If it were dinner I might use chicken stock or vegetable broth, but today it was straight tap water.  I added the grains and brought it to a boil.  Once boiling, I brought it down to a simmer.

While this was all happening, I was preparing and adding the flavor ingredients.  I added a handful of raisins, and also had golden raisins, so I added those for color.  I then chopped a handful of almonds.  You could use almost any nut but these seemed to really add a great flavor.

I also had dried peach slices and dried dates so I chopped these and added them.  Dried fruit has really concentrated flavor so it stands up to the long cook time.  I also made sure to cut everything small so that a giant hunk of fruit would not dominate the small grains.  the largest item in the pot was the raisins.

I seasoned it with cinnamon, vanilla, and honey.  Also important is a couple good shakes of salt for each cup of grain in the pot.

Once it was all in the pot I covered it and let it simmer, adding grains at their appropriate time and giving it a stir every now and then.

This was a Saturday morning and as my family woke up, everyone thought I was cooking something different.  “Are you making a pie?”  Do I smell pancakes?”  “Cookies!”

The cereal I made was great!  It had a warm homemade flavor and there was a lot of it, so I was able to microwave a bowl of it all week on work days.

I served it with a dollop of yogurt, and as is often the litmus test in my household, everyone enjoyed it, teenagers included!

It has real staying power too!  You will not be hungry for several hours after this breakfast!



  1. GREAT article! I recently started trying to cook more with whole grains and alternatives to oatmeal. Thanks for the post. Love the idea of displaying the grains out in the open. And they look pretty too!

  2. Hi Tony,

    LOVE your blog! Hope you’re saving your entries; there’s a book here, you know!

    PS I work with Alice at Esri.

  3. Tony this is Great!! I look forward to reading more. I loved your birthday party food, that sounds like a wonderful place, Don and I will have to go there the next time we are in VA

  4. Fantastic! This is a great alternative to granola bars! Who doesn’t love a hot breakfast? I’ll try this on Saturday…I like the dollop of yogurt too!

  5. So, I made the hot cereal this morning. I added some different dried friuts and grains (whatever I had laying around) and you were right!…my husband came downstairs this morning asking what smelled so good. It was a hit with him and with me. I added some of my homemade yogurt on top and it was DEEEEE-lightful. Thanks for sharing the recipe…this will be great when my parents come into town. You’re the BOMB TON!

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