There's no denying oatmeal's popularity in the school of breakfast cereal: 80% of U.S. households have it in their cupboards, according to the North American Millers' Association. This month, we'll buy more oatmeal than any other time this year: 34.6 million pounds, enough to make 346 million bowls of oatmeal. But we'd like to give due to some of the less-cool but super-interesting alternatives. They may seem sort of weird; but just like in high school, once you get to know them they're so much more intriguing than the popular girl.
Higher in protein than most grains, quinoa has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture. Rinse a cup of quinoa in a strainer first, then add 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes, and fluff with a fork. O mag assistant editor Rachel Mount likes to stir frozen blueberries and coconut butter into the warm grain; the fruit melts and turns the dish deep purple.
Akin to cracked wheat, this grain has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. And it cooks quickly: you bring 2/3 cup of bulgur and 1 1/3 cups water to a boil, then turn off the heat, put a lid on the pot, and let it sit for 25 minutes--just long enough to hop in the shower and get dressed. When you're ready, so is your bulgur. I like it with coconut, ginger, almonds and a bit of milk or yogurt to give it a creamier consistency.
These "berries" look like brown rice grains, only larger. They have a sweet, buttery flavor. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of kamut. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, until the grains are tender and plump. Stir in a pinch each of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and a few drops of vanilla.
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