Greener Cereal

What do you do for breakfast? Me, I’ve always enjoyed raisin bran cereal. I have it nearly every day. When I was a kid, I often even had a bowl as a bedtime snack. (Heck, I still do that on occasion.)

Cereal is not such an easy matter for the Yeoman Farm Children, however. With their Celiac disease, most grains are off limits. Rice is pretty much the only grain they can eat, and we practically buy it by the truckload from our food co-op. Plus, given all the additives and other ingredients that go into commercial cereal (even rice-based cereal), the YFCs’ other food allergies mean they’ve never been able to just sit down and pour themselves bowls of anything off-the-shelf for breakfast.

Each morning, we must grind a few cups of organic long grain brown rice in a grain mill, add it to some water in a pot, bring it to a boil, and simmer it for about 20 minutes (stirring constantly) on the stovetop. It then must sit and “set up” for some time before it can be dished into bowls. Think “very slowly cooked Cream of Wheat,” except made from scratch with rice flour.

The YFCs are now old enough to be able to take turns cooking cereal themselves, but when they were younger Mrs Yeoman Farmer had to do it every morning. To this day, we still talk about the time we had some friends visiting overnight; they slid bowls of off-the-shelf cereal in front of their kids, who proceeded to finish eating by the time MYF was still grinding our rice into flour.

Anyway, as much as we tell them how incredibly healthy their diets are, the YFCs have naturally long wondered what it would be like to “eat normally.” This Christmas, after having done extensive research, Homeschooled Farm Girl found a way to give her brothers the gift of eating breakfast like typical kids for a day: at the natural food store, she discovered a certain brand of puffed rice cereal that had no problematic ingredients. She bought it, wrapped it up, and put it under the tree for her siblings.

Needless to say, they were very excited. And this morning, thoroughly enjoying having been liberated from cooking their cream-of-rice, they poured themselves their first bowls of the stuff. They added some of our goat milk yogurt, grabbed some spoons, and sat down to try eating breakfast like other kids do.

The verdict? To my surprise, they quickly decided that commercial cereal is terribly overrated. “I don’t like the texture,” Homeschooled Farm Boy said. HFG, taking no offense that her gift hadn’t gone over so well, heartily agreed. Big Little Brother wasn’t crazy about it, either. They ate as much as they could, but the three of them left quite a bit for the chickens.

It was a very thoughtful gift on HFG’s part, and her brothers did appreciate the effort she put into finding a commercial cereal they could try. I don’t think the three of them quite realize it yet, but they actually ended up getting a gift that no amount of money or research could buy: a real-life lesson that the grass really isn’t greener on other people’s lawns (or breakfast tables, as it were). And that when it comes to food, they’re pretty darn lucky they get to eat the way they do.

7 thoughts on “Greener Cereal

  1. Kevin, we have a Nutrimill grain mill. A blender doesn't chop grain nearly finely enough. Quinoa is the only other grain our kids can eat, but it's significantly more expensive than rice (and they like rice just fine), so we seldom buy it.

    The Nutrimill is a bit of an investment, but it's really worth it given how much we use it. Our first mill was the Family Grain Mill, which is more affordable and acceptable for occasional use (and can be used with a hand crank if the power goes out), but to get flour really fine you need to put it through twice. As our needed volume of fine flour climbed, we grew increasingly frustrated with the Family Grain Mill. The Nutrimill was worth every dollar we spent on it.

    Here is a good review/video of the Nutrimill:

    And of the more basic Family Grain Mill:

    Actually, it looks like you can now get the NutriMill for the same price or less (at Amazon) than the motorized Family Grain Mill. That makes it a total no-brainer.


  2. Thanks for the info. I've thought a great breakfast would be a porridge made from a mixture of whole grains. Those mills are all pricey (so many things to buy and so little money). Have you heard anything about the cast iron hand-crank jobs?


  3. Not familiar with those.

    The Family Grain Mill with just a hand crank isn't too terribly expensive, and we used it that way for quite awhile, but I'll soon be putting up a post saying more about that. (You've inspired me to publish a whole “grain mill” post.)

    Another alternative: If you happen to own a Kitchen Aid mixer, you can add a grain grinder attachment to it. It's fine for occasional use, but not for the volume our family needs.

    Finally, given that price is an issue, it's not a bad idea to check eBay.


  4. I have a cast iron hand crank mill. Its essentially useless. It doesn't grind it fine enough for a decent flour. Secondly, its hard to find a surface to attach it to. Thirdly, it takes so long and is such a work out, that I save it for my husband for quiet evenings with nothing going on (how often does THAT happen)… who makes a big show of grinding grain, going shirtless and flexing more than necessary. Not that I mind the show, but frankly, I'd rather buy flour instead. 🙂


  5. Isn't interesting how cereal is the breakfast staple for so many of us. It hasn't always been, of course, for a lot of reasons.

    For that matter, I wonder how many people even associated the generic name of our common breakfast food, “cereal”, with grains. I.e., cereal is made from cereals.


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