Before deciding on which whole-grain breakfast cereals you like best, take a look at the label on the bag of grain or on the bin with the loose grains; a cereal that gives you a minimum of 3 to 4 grams of fiber for each serving qualifies as a whole grain. Most prepared cereals have a mix of whole grains -- those that include the germ, bran and endosperm -- and processed grains, those made from the less-fibrous endosperm.
Oatmeal in All Its Forms
Oats provide plenty of whole-grain goodness if you choose the right variety. Steel-cut oats, also called oat groats, take up to an hour to cook, but contain more fiber than other types of oats; you can reduce their cooking time with overnight soaking or by buying them precooked. Thick-cut or old-fashioned rolled oats, for granola or hot cereal, retain more of the bran and germ than quick-cooking or instant rolled oats, and cook in about 2 minutes in the microwave.
Although quick and instant wheat cereals are too processed to count as whole grains, some varieties, such as bulgur wheat, wheat berries and kamut, do qualify for the description. These whole grains typically appear as salads or side dishes, but they work equally well for breakfast, with dried fruit and nuts. According to the Whole Grain Council, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, bulgur counts as an "instant breakfast," since it's precooked and becomes edible after soaking for 15 minutes in hot water, while wheat berries and kamut cook in 60 minutes.
Nutty and chewy, buckwheat flour appears in blinis and soba noodles; and buckwheat kernels, or groats, work for a hot breakfast cereal either whole, cracked or roasted, when they're also called kasha. Groats or kasha cook in 20 to 30 minutes. Or, use either of these forms of buckwheat for granola after you roast them in a 225-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 60 to 90 minutes. Buckwheat in all of its forms provides you with a gluten-free option.
Brown Rice, Quinoa and Farro
Most grocery and health food stores carry whole grains in packages and in their bulk food sections. While Americans eat brown rice, quinoa and farro more often in salads or side dishes than they do as breakfast cereals, there's no reason why you can't cook these common whole-grain cereals for breakfast. Quinoa takes about 15 minutes to cook, farro from 20 to 30 minutes and brown rice about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Whole Grains
- My Recipes: Steel Cut Oats with Warm Berry Compote
- The Whole Grain Council: Wheat July Grain of the Month
- How to Cook Everything Vegetarian; Mark Bittman
- Bob's Red Mill: Cherry Almond Chia Granola
- The Whole Grain Council: Buckwheat - December Grain of the Month
- Photo Credit MariaShumova/iStock/Getty Images
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