There are times when I just don’t feel like dumping packaged grains for my cereal cravings, so I opt for a non-traditional “cereal” approach. Think of whole foods that are crunchy and tasty; then chop them into bite-sized pieces to use as a “cereal” component. This is perfect for anyone on the Paleo Diet and really craving their cold cereal.
Here are a few of my favorites:
With apples being one of the most pesticide-infected produce items, I always get organic. To make as a great cereal substitute, just core, slice, and chop an apple into small cubes about the size of pistachio kernels. I like to toss in a few roasted almonds, pistachios, or peanuts and mix with plain, non-fat yogurt for an awesome grain-free “cereal.” If you’re craving something sweet, use half fat free vanilla yogurt in place of half of the plain stuff. Adding honey or, my favorite, vanilla liquid stevia to the mix is another great suggestion. I will cut several apples into cereal size and keep them in the freezer as a quick go-to treat for morning, noon, or night.
Organic Sweet Potatoes
As another heavily sprayed produce item, I stick with organic potatoes too. Rinse and scrub a potato (I leave the peel on, but you can peel if you must), and then microwave for about 4 minutes turning half-way through, or cut into small cubes and boil until slightly soft. This is not crunchy, but makes for a great change in texture and is really good when mixed with cinnamon, yogurt, almonds, and a little milk with honey. I usually microwave the potato and then cut into cubes; boiling seems to be more of a hassle and some nutrients will be lost in the water.
Take a peeled banana and chop into bite-sized cubes just like the apple above; either use right away for a softer cereal treat, or freeze the pieces for a firmer texture. Freezing is my favorite way to go since I enjoy the firm texture and the built in “chill effect” of my cereal. Dry roasted peanuts, cinnamon, yogurt, and milk are my go-to choices, but do what sounds good to you.
Butternut or Delicata are the better options for a natural sweetness, but I have used Acorn squash with good results too. To make these into a grain-free cereal choice, peel the skin (I leave it on sometimes), cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and proceed to chop into the desired cubes suitable for eating as a cereal. Toss the cubes with a little cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or nothing and roast in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes; stir 2 times while cooking. Let these cool and store in an air-tight container in your fridge to use when you choose. Add your favorite roasted or raw nuts for more taste and texture along with yogurt and/or milk. Enjoy!
Since they are naturally crunchy, and almost top the list in sugar content for veggies, carrots are a great choice for a grain cereal alternative. Peel and chop like the other produce items mentioned, then use as you desire. These will store easily in an airtight container or bag in the fridge. I find peanuts pair well with the carrots, and tossing in some natural raisins can really make for an exciting treat.
Known as the Mexican potato, jicama does not have an intense flavor on its own, but it is very refreshing and another great choice for a refreshing crunch. Peel the jicama (instructions on this link ) and chop into cubes accordingly. I use half light coconut milk in a can with half water and some yogurt as the coconut flavor is great with this veggie. Add in some unsweetened shredded coconut for more flavor and try mixing with some banana or apple and almonds too.
Other selections I have used but find they are better when mixed with choices above are blueberries and papaya. Blueberries are easy; I buy these frozen and just add the amount I want at any time. I will buy fresh papaya, peel, then chop into small cubes and place in the freezer to use as I please. Papaya is a great addition to any of these mixes for its digestive enzyme content and excellent tropical taste.
I have tried and continue to use all of these cereal alternatives just to keep things varied in my diet, but my favorite choice are the chopped and frozen apples. Think of other produce you like that could be used as a non-grain cereal and give it a try; the freezer will help make softer things crunchy and double as a way for long term storage and use. I use plain, non-fat Greek yogurt with a little milk to keep from being too thick in most of these applications , and roasted peanuts , almonds, or pistachios really help with extra crunch and nutrition.
Try one, all, or your own versions and let me know how you liked it compared to the traditional stuff in a box. I don’t have any of my own yet, but this might be a great (sneaky) way to treat your kids and have them eat their fruits and veggies too!