As I was cooking up my breakfast this morning, I found myself interested in the colors and visual texture of the ingredients as they began to combine with each other. I was really drawn towards the swirling colors. This concoction reminded me of blown glass pieces or some multi-colored ceramic glazes. In addition to the yellows and greens and flecks of red, I could discern a visual depth that intrigued me. Pretty soon my face was inches above the top of the steaming pot!
Join me in taking a deeper look at what’s in that pot, literally.
Isn’t that amazing and gorgeous? I think I could stare at it for hours.
What’s going on here? This is definitely NOT the usual American breakfast that I grew up with of HoneyComb or Cap’n Crunch cereal with added sugar and milk to top it off, no sir! There is something else going on here…
Let me preface my breakfast explanation by diverging a bit into Ayurvedic wisdom.
We are now in the Vata season of winter. Vata’s qualities are cold, dry, light, and mobile. Winter/Vata is a time when skin dries out, lips and finger tips chap, noses run, and our bodies can generally feel cold and depleted. Winter is a time when we need to take extra care of ourselves so that our immune systems stay healthy and vigilant. We can do that by applying opposing qualities of warm/hot, moist, heavy, and grounding.
Those brand-name breakfast cereals share the same qualities as Vata: cold, dry, light. Adding milk to a bowl of cereal does bring some moisture into the picture, but the cold and light qualities remain. In fact, milk is cooling, so we increase the cold properties; we double-up on the cold quality! This kind of food is the last thing anyone should be eating during this time of year. In order to stay in balance (and in health and wellness), it is to our advantage to oppose Vata’s qualities by taking in warm, moist, heavy, grounding foods. This will shore us and our immunity up for the winter months.
Are you with me? So my breakfast these days is a warm, cooked, bowl of grains along with some much-needed ghee for fat, warming spices to help my digestive system break this food down into usable nutrients, and other herbs/spices to make this a well-rounded and nutritionally-balanced meal. It is delicious, nutritious, warming, soothing, filling, and packed with goodness.
Would you like to know how to make it?
It’s kind of a 2-step process. I have on hand a half gallon jar of the grains already combined. I use a portion of this mixture to make my morning cereal.
The grain mixture:
Combine equal portions of the grains you like to use. I use flax seeds, rice, steel cut oats, millet, quinoa, and polenta or corn meal. In the past I have also added in sesame seeds, chia seeds, amaranth, and teff. Use your imagination, and experiment!
Making a morning’s cereal:
• Pour 1.5 cups of water into a pot.
• Add .5 cup milk.
• Add 1/4 cup of the grain mixture.
• Add in warming digestive spices to taste. I use some combination of: cinnamon, vanilla, mace, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.
• Add in other nutritive herbs/spices to taste. I have a rotating cast that I call upon, namely kelp and dulse for their high vitamin and mineral content, astragalus and licorice for their nutritive tonic properties, spirulina for its dense nutrition (this gives the green color), and turmeric with ground black pepper or long pepper for its many overall systemic health-supporting properties. (The ground pepper helps to make the turmeric more available in the digestive process.)
• Add a pinch of sea salt for even more nutrient goodness.
I stir the whole mixture together and bring it to a boil. As soon as the pot boils, I turn the heat down and let it simmer, stirring frequently to prevent burning at the bottom of the pot. This will take approximately a half hour to cook all the way through. (And you want it to cook all the way through; crunching through uncooked grains is tough on the teeth!) While the cereal cooks it will begin to meld together as one consistent whole.
Your breakfast cereal is finished cooking when it has thickened up nicely and the grains are all soft. Spoon it into a bowl, add a little bit of sweetener (I use gur or jaggery, which can be bought at an Indian or Mexican market), and enjoy!