Bird Seed Cereal (Gluten-Free)

I’ve been eating this cereal everyday that I go to work, for about 2 years now.  My husband has two ancient pet doves, whom he has loved and cared for since before we were dating. He swears that this cereal is exactly the bird seed that he feeds Phoebe and Lula.  Well, if it’s kept the doves alive for this long….

The recipe is from the excellent plant-based food blog My New Roots.  It’s written by Sarah Britton, a nutritionist who is also an excellent cook and has a lovely approach to inspiring folks to eat in a more healthy way.  I can honestly say that cooking from My New Roots has made me a healthier person.  So check it out!

Reading Sarah’s post about making whole grain gluten-free breakfast cereal made me realize that I had developed an irrational fear of whole grains.  This happened because I did not discover that I couldn’t eat gluten AT ALL until I was in my thirties.  That meant that every time I ate barley soup, rye bread, spelt muffins, whole wheat berry cereal…all foods that were presented to me as “healthy”…I got really, really sick.  So, over time I just stopped eating grains.  It seemed safer.  But, the truth is that there are many gluten-free whole grains that I CAN eat.  I knew that intellectually, but the long formed habit of avoiding grains was hard to shake.

Incorporating the bird seed breakfast cereal into my diet has been an easy way to get more whole grains into my diet.  It’s really excellent fuel on the days that I ride my bike to a school and teach theater all day to tiny, energetic school children…which is fun but very, very exhausting.

I mix this cereal up in massive batches and cook it every morning.  I start it as soon as I wake up and while it cooks for 20 minutes I stretch, or pack my lunch, or do the dishes from the night before, or catch another 15 minutes of sleep on the sofa depending on how overwhelmed and behind I am in my life.  If you go to the original post there are instructions for soaking the grains the night before, which cuts down on the cooking time and has some sort of health benefit, but I am never that far ahead in my life.  I also just realized that the original recipe instructs us to rinse the grains before cooking them, which I never do, so I hope that it’s not that important!

I am also never far ahead enough to actually eat my breakfast at home before I leave for work.  These lovely photos are staged and taken during my summer retreat at The Freight.  The gorgeous pottery was made by Regina Wickham.  My birthday is on March 14th world!  Send me pottery

No, this is not what my breakfast really looks like.  I wake up in the dark, early morning long before my body is interested in eating.  I put the cooked cereal in a mason jar with some milk, nuts dry fruit and fresh fruit. If I don’t add milk, nuts dry fruit and fresh fruit I find that I become hungry again instantly.  I eat my cereal form the mason jar after I bike to school (if I’m teaching in Brooklyn) or on my hour and half long subway commute (if I’m teaching in the Bronx or Queens) once the train empties out.  I know  Try not to be overwhelmed by the glamour of my life.  I never claimed that this was an aspirational lifestyle blog.I have found this recipe to be fantastically flexible.  If I’m out of one or two of the grains, I just add more of the ones I have.  My mother is allergic to buckwheat so when I made it for her last summer we added more quinoa and millet.  Some people don’t like to eat Quinoa because of how exporting quinoa is affecting the diets of indigenous people in South America.  If that’s you, add more amaranth.  The chia seeds and sunflower seeds are important in my opinion.  Don’t leave those out.

Sometimes I also add teff, which I like for its cream of wheat like creamy, fine grain texture.  Also, I can get teff for very cheap.  This is important though..teff spoils quickly, so if you add it, keep your cereal in the fridge or freezer. One time I added rolled oats but those require a different amount of liquid…so don’t do that.