When I wake up in the morning, I’m hungry. Maybe, like my dog, I phantom-chase teasing squirrels while I’m sleeping, working up a giant appetite. My morning hunger is calmed with a flavorful healthy green smoothie, or a light whipped yogurt splash, but honestly what I really want is a big fat muffin.
My compromise is grain. I’ve been experimenting with whole grains for breakfast and learning about a few I’ve never cooked. I’ve loved Quinoa for a while, Oatmeal since childhood, but this week I’ve fallen in love with Wheat Berries. Ever hear of them? They look a bit like Barley, but darker and harder. Most of us have eaten them only after they’ve been ground up, hulls removed and turned into flour.
Wheat Berries are the actual seed from which the wheat plant grows. It has three parts: the endosperm, the bran, and the germ. Each part has it’s own super nutrients, vitamins and fiber. A lot of those qualities get pounded out by the time we use the flour for bread.
The kernels are so easy to cook: Pour them into a pot, add two and half times the water, stock, soup or milk, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes and fluff with a fork. For this recipe I used a package of Wheat Berries that had been par-boiled and it only took 15 minutes to prepare.
While they were cooking, I already knew I had found a new favorite. The whole kitchen became cozy and the fragrance was like roasting nuts. When they were done, I scooped some out into a container to save for a savory dinner or salad (cooked Wheat Berries can last in the refrigerator for several days.)
Then, I filled a bowl with the rest of the warm Wheat Berries, poured in the milk I had infused with a cinnamon stick, vanilla and honey, and topped it with toasted pecans and chopped dried apricots. I ate my breakfast by the window, watching my dog being taunted by those pesky squirrels and dreamed of all the ways I was going to use Wheat Berries in the future.
Recipe: Wheat Berry Cinnamon Porridge
1 cup Wheat Berries
2 ½ cups water or Vegetable Stock
1 cup Non-fat Milk
1 Cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons Honey
¼ cup Chopped Pecans (toasted)
¼ cup Dried Apricots (chopped)
1) In a deep sauce pan, add the Wheat Berries, water or stock and season with salt.
2) Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.
3) Cook for about 45 minutes, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Allow to sit for a few minutes to soak up the remaining liquid. (*If using par-boiled Wheat Berries cooking time is reduced to 15 minutes.)
4) While the Wheat Berries are cooking, pour the milk into a small saucepan with the Vanilla and a Cinnamon stick. Bring to almost a simmer, remove, stir in the honey and cover to allow the milk to infuse.
5) To serve: spoon the Wheat Berries into a bowl, discard the cinnamon stick and pour in a desired amount of spiced milk, top with pecans and apricots.