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5 Oatmeal Alternatives

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While it’s easy to slide into an oatmeal rut, there are countless ways to vary your morning bowl by adding protein, fruit, and spices (see "How to Make Your Oatmeal Less Boring" for ideas). Another way to mix things up: Kickstart your day with one of the tasty grains below, which have oatmeal qualities and similar health benefits but a slightly different taste.

1. Wheat Berries

Wheat berries have a chewy texture and nutty flavor when boiled. They're also high in fiber, protein, and many essential vitamins and nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin E, folate, potassium, and B vitamins. Top wheat berries with thin slices of sauteed pears, cranberries, honey, Greek yogurt (for an extra punch of protein), or ginger.

2. Quinoa

A complete protein, quinoa has all nine essential amino acids. It's cholesterol-, sodium-, and gluten-free, and filled with fiber, iron, and other nutrients. Boil and simmer for 10 minutes, and then top with walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, blueberries, peaches, oats, pears, coconut, or a splash of almond milk. For an instant breakfast, buy quinoa flakes, add water, and microwave it for two minutes. Quinoa flakes can often be found in the gluten-free section of your health food store.

3. Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a gluten-free grain that's high in protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and B vitamins. Its strong earthy flavor pairs well with apples, cardamom, or almond butter. Pocono's Cream of Buckwheat takes about 15 minutes to prepare on the stovetop.

4. Amaranth

This sweet grain has been linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It's also been shown to help strengthen immunity. Like quinoa and buckwheat, amaranth is high in iron, and lysine, an amino acid not found in many other grains. Cooked similar to steel cut oats, amaranth takes 30 minutes to prepare. Top it with crystallized ginger, milk, sesame seeds, blueberries, or cinnamon.

5. Spelt

Chewy spelt berries offer a rich flavor and lots of texture. This high-protein grain is also an excellent source of manganese, copper, and zinc. It takes about an hour to cook. Whip up a batch the night before, add water in the morning, and reheat to save time. Spelt berries taste great with bananas, raspberries, dates, honey, nutmeg, or almond milk.

Kristin Gabrys is a performance nutritionist for Core Performance's corporate wellness programs.

Tags: Cooking, Food, Home, Breakfast