Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's in your "Healthy" hot cereals???

If you are like me and had very well-meaning, concerned mothers, you ate a lot of "healthy" hot cereal as a child. Hmmm...what was really in that hot cereal? Let's examine that. I'll try not to name names, but the hot cereals I ate, advertised right on the front of the box an ingredient called "enriched farina". First, lets discuss farina...what is it? Farina is made from some of the germ and endosperm of the wheat. Hmmm...what is missing? Well, the rest of the germ and the bran!!! Some of these cereals even BLEACH the farina!!! So, why are the germ and bran so important? Well, here is a simple little tutorial on wheat...

The wheat kernal is composed of three main parts.

The germ is the smallest part of the wheat kernal. It is removed to create white flour. It contains: B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus.

The endosperm is the biggest part of the wheat kernal. It has the most protein and contains complex carbohydrates and B vitamins.

The bran is the outside of the kernel and contains almost all of the fiber. It contains magnesium, B vitamins, iron and zinc.

Whole wheat products leave both the bran and the germ in tact. The bran and the germ are removed while processing flour to make it white.

So, in those "healthy" cereals...we have eliminated many B vitamins, iron, and fiber. So, what do companies do to remedy this problem? They "enrich" it by artificially adding back some of those nutrients. So, if our parents fed us these cereals, believing they were filling our little bellies with whole grain cereals, how can we avoid being duped with our own kids? First of all, make sure the first ingredient is WHOLE wheat flour. If it says enriched wheat flour, bleached wheat flour, unbleached wheat flour...chances are it is NOT WHOLE wheat. Its tricky, I know, but just make sure it is WHOLE wheat. It will usually advertise on the front when it is 100% whole wheat.

OR...YOU COULD JUST MAKE IT AT HOME!!! This is a recipe that will be in my next cookbook. I made it this morning and it is DELICIOUS and has ALL parts of the wheat kernal. Oh, and only 77 calories per cup!!!

Hot, Creamy Ground Wheat Cereal

1 C coarsely ground whole wheat flour

4 C water

Pinch of salt

Grind 1 C wheat in a coffee grinder on one of the coarsest settings until evenly ground. Mix one cup of ground wheat flour and 2 ½ C water in a pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring constantly and adding 1/2 C water every couple of minutes. Makes 5 C of creamy cereal.

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