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Guest Post Series: Mama Always Said “Get A Good Start to the Day”

September 3, 2010

Laura Everage is a freelance writer and mom of four based in Northern California. In between planning meals and play dates, she can be found updating her site, which she founded with her husband. To kick off Whole Grains Month, we’ve invited her to be our Guest Blogger today!

Mom always said, “Get a good start to the day and eat a good breakfast.” Back when I was a kid, a ‘good breakfast’ simply meant getting food into your belly, and I’m pretty sure Mom didn’t look too deeply into the actual content of that breakfast. That’s why my usual morning breakfast routine included sugary cereals, occasionally sprinkled with another type of sugary cereal. Eggs, waffles and pancakes were the domain of Sunday, and as I got a bit older, into my teen years, Pop Tarts® popped into my breakfast routine.

If we only knew then, what we know now.  A nutritious breakfast really does matter. Experts say that when children eat a healthy breakfast, they refuel the body for the day and concentrate better. They have better eye-hand coordination, are more alert, more creative, miss fewer days of school, and are more physically active. I suppose the same is true for adults.

With the kids heading back to school, breakfast time has taken on new meaning. I need to feed them fast and feed them well so that they can be energized and focused for all that their school morning may bring.

Eating a wider variety of grains and grain foods — the likes of quinoa, amaranth, cous cous, polenta, and barley — has been one of my goals for the family. Until now, I believe that I’ve been a bit myopic in my search.  I’ve been perusing whole grain recipes to use for dinner, and for an occasional lunch, so that I could substitute for the rice, orzo and potatoes I serve my family for meals. As I’ve done so, I realize that I have been walking around with my breakfast blinders on. Beyond oatmeal, beyond homemade granola, beyond whole grain waffles, there truly is a world of whole grains that will help jumpstart our day.

Once I set my mind to it, my search for new breakfast options – of the whole grain variety – netted some pretty surprising results. Who knew that those grains I’ve desired my family eat for dinner, are tasty and delicious when prepared for breakfast? There was a Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa, Amaranth Porridge, and Breakfast Couscous with Dried Fruit Compote (be sure to look for whole grain couscous) – all which sounded truly delicious.

I was inspired, I was excited, and coincidentally, so was my family! I set to work, planning new breakfast offerings that would get us all going and keep us going throughout the morning.

After a few tries, I have to say that with these new breakfast foods, the kids are less likely to be begging for a mid-morning snack 15 minutes after breakfast is complete. And, as for the adults in the family, Greg and I can be found chasing the kids with a much livelier gait.

Honey and Orange Polenta

  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cups instant wholegrain polenta or fine cornmeal
  • 4 tbsp honey
  1. Zest the orange, reserve 1 1/2 tsp. Peel orange and pith, then remove membrane from orange.
  2. Combine water, milk and salt in saucepan, then bring to boil. Whisk in the polenta (gradually), and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low (just enough to maintain an even bubble), whisk until polenta thickens (anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes). Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk 3 tbsp. honey and 1 tsp. zest into polenta. Divide among four bowls and top with orange segments.

For more delicious whole grain recipes, visit the Whole Grains Council “Recipes” page.

Alison Edit: Thank you so much Laura! If YOU want to guest post on The Oldways Table, email me at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2010 10:00 pm

    What a simple and delicious morning meal. I’ve never thought of using polenta for breakfast, but it is brilliant and will add some color to my rather bland breakfast habits!

  2. September 9, 2010 5:20 pm

    Great post. Don’t forget that not all breakfast food has to edge toward the sweet. Savory grain-based breakfasts can be terrific, once you get over the head-scratching phase. Bacon and eggs are savory, right? Why not the grains? I discovered this a couple of years ago, and wrote about on Chowplay . My latest adventure is grains with kimchi mixed in. But tomatoes (especially this time of year), soy sauce, fish sauce, lots and lots of black pepper, hot sauce of your choice, and nuts are also great. Or leftover veggies from the night before. As complex or as simple as you like.

    Also, you can cook the grains in advance, refrigerate, and reheat as needed — especially useful for the longer-cooking grains.

    The kids might not latch on to this idea right away, but after they’ve seen you doing it for awhile, might give it a try.

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