Breakfast cereals and cold milk

Before my recent foray into breakfast cereals a couple of weeks ago, I can’t remember when was the previous time I crunched on bowl of crispy breakfast cereal in cold dairy milk. With most commercial cereals full of sugar and additives, not to mention the fact that Kelloggs cereals in Singapore are produced regionally and are much inferior in taste (as I remember from years and years ago, when I was still eating processed foods from the supermarket).

However, I’ve recently noticed the wide variety of breakfast cereals made from alternative grains on health food shelves, including NTUC Finest. For example, from Arrowhead Mills, there’s amaranth, spelt and kamut flakes, while from Nature’s Path brand, you can get spelt or millet flakes, or even ‘heirloom wholegrain’ cereal containing “Organic Kamut®* wheat flour, organic wheat bran, organic evaporated cane juice, organic spelt flour, organic whole oat flour, organic whole wheat meal, organic barley flour, organic whole millet, organic barley malt extract, organic quinoa, sea salt, organic honey.”

First, I chomped through a delicious box of crispy oat flakes from Arrowhead Mills — not raw oats that have to be cooked into a porridge, but just like cornflakes. Having forsworn Kelloggs’ cornflakes so long ago, I had totally erased the idea of cornflakes from my consciousness, but the ‘gluten-free’ tag drew my attention to Nature’s Path Honey’d Corn Flakes (Organic corn meal, organic evaporated cane juice, organic honey, sea salt). What a rediscovery for me! I couldn’t believe how delicious this box of cornflakes tasted, largely thanks to an excellent crisp texture.

As for the milk part, occasionally, I’ll indulge with dairy milk, but otherwise, I’ll rotate oat, rice and soy milks.

Yaay, one more viable snack option :).

29/11/08 Update: Cheapest place to buy Nature’s Path cereals that I’ve found in Singapore so far is Meidi-ya supermarket. It costs S$5.95 a box, which is the same or just a bit more than standard brands like Kelloggs and Post. It’s stocked on the regular breakfast cereal shelves, next to Arrowhead Mills cereals.

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Spelt pumpkin muffins (no sugar)

Here’s my first experiment with non-wheat flour. It really doesn’t taste very different, but that’s because spelt is actually a variety of wheat. Even if you don’t have an outright wheat intolerance problem, food rotation is a good idea.

I came up with this recipe after comparing the Pumpkin muffin recipes from the following books:
Diana Linfoot, Muffin Magic (Perth, Western Australia: Diana Linfoot, 1990)
Miriam Kasin Hospodar, Heaven’s Banquet: Vegetarian Cooking for Lifelong Health the Ayurveda Way
Mary Ann and Mace Wenniger, The Best-Ever Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book

Spelt is not gluten-free so there really was no need for the last book, but it was still interesting to note the spices, raisins and nuts as well as orange juice used as milk replacement in the recipe (no citrus juices in large quantities for me – high in salicylates).

Both the vegetarian and gluten-free books’ muffin recipes use buttermilk or yoghurt, and I’ve found I prefer the texture from this mix than the old recipe I was using. I also use 2 eggs now instead of the 1 egg I did before.

The Ayurvedic book also melted ghee, butter or oil interchangeably for muffins, so I opened the first tin of ghee I’ve ever used . I already had it sitting in the cupboard, waiting to be experimented with.

For the flour mix, you can replace up to half a cup out of a total of two cups with alternative non-gluten flours.

You don’t need any sugar as the pumpkin, raisins and walnuts give this plenty of flavour.

speltpumpkinmuffins-0.jpg

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs
1/4 cup melted ghee
3/4 cup yoghurt
1/4 cup water

1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin (if you have extra you can freeze it)

1 cup chopped walnuts, lightly roasted by dry-frying without oil in a skillet over low heat – you may want to sieve out the tiny pieces which get burnt during the roasting process
1/2 cup sultanas

1) Sift together dry ingredients. This is important to combine the leavening agents and flours properly. If they are not evenly mixed, there will be large holes in your muffins. I often have a problem sifting wholegrain flours with leavening agents because the large flakes in wholegrain flour don’t go through the sieve and I can’t get at the smaller clumps of baking powder/soda to break them up and press them through the mesh. Right now, I’m trying to get round the problem by using my sieve which has a coarser mesh.

2) Mix wet ingredients together. Put the eggs in last, because if you mix raw eggs with hot melted butter you will get cooked egg (yes, this happened to me before!).

3) Mix the pumpkin puree thoroughly with the wet ingredients. I like to use a whisk for the wet ingredients.

4) Coat the raisins and nuts with flour to prevent them from sinking in the batter whilst baking.

5) Mix all the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients all at once quickly and lightly with just a few strokes. It’s ok if there mixture is clumpy.

6) Mix in the raisins & nuts.

7) Put into greased muffin tins. Paper casing is unnecessary. I have discovered that unless the cake has a high fat content (such as this cake recipe), it will stick to the casing. Pour water into any unused holes in the muffin tin to keep the tin from warping, and to produce steam which helps to create crispy tops on the muffins.

8) Bake at 180°C for at least 20 mins, or until toothpick comes out clean and muffins are fragrant.