how to avoid cereal boredom – 9 tips for adding excitement to your breakfast

braeburn apples stewed apples & muesli

When I was recording what I ate to document my month of being a vegetarian, I got a little sick of writing down what I had for breakfast each day. I kept thinking that anyone reading would think that I have the most boring, repetitive start to the day. Muesli & yoghurt, yoghurt & muesli.

But the thing is I love my breakfasts, especially my muesli. I look forward to it every morning. While in writing it may sound like the same thing day in, day out, in reality it’s a new experience every time because I play around with the details.

So I thought I’d share with you a few tips on adding excitement to breakfast. But I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, so please feel free to share your secrets.

9 tips for adding excitement to your breakfast

1. stew some apples
My latest addition has been the redisovery of stewed apples. My mum used to make them all the time but I don’t think I had ever stewed my own. That was until a colleague of my Irishman’s kindly passed on a swag of golden delicious which inspired me to try it out. I’m loving the soft, not-too-sweet fruit with my muesli these days. So comforting and good.

2. add a sprinkling of bran
We all know the importance of fibre in our diets but it can be a bit daunting to sit down to a whole bowl of all bran. So I choose to sprinkle a little over my muesli (and apples). Oat bran is another good thing to include as it’s high in soluble fibre which has been linked to reducing cholesterol levels.

3. warm milk
Such a simple thing, but it makes a whole world of difference to your cereal experience. The dried fruit seems plumper and more flavouresome and everything is just a little toastier and warming. Just the thing for wintery mornings.

4. vanilla yoghurt
While I love the tartness of natural yoghurt, sometimes it good to sweeten it up. I find commercially flavoured yoghurts tend to be on the fake vanillin end of the spectrum, so I’ve started making my own. Just make a strong sugar syrup and steep some vanilla beans in it, then cool and mix though your natural yoghurt.

5. reworking leftover desserts
If there’s leftover dessert in the fridge, it can be hard to resist. So I like to add things like rice pudding, rhubarb crumble, or poached apricots in with my muesli & yoghurt for something a little different.

6. play cereal mix & match
When I worked for a cereal company, one of the ‘perks’ was free breakfast. It always surprised me how many people would be happy to have just a bowl of one type of cereal each morning. I loved being able to mix it up and customise my breakfast.

7. add a little crunch
A handful of toasted almonds or some toasted muesli can add some welcome textural interest.

8. try a different serving vessel
For some reason I prefer to eat my muesli out of a glass. I suspect it’s because you get to see the pretty layers of muesli and yoghurt and fruit. And you can fill it right to the top without it being too much. But every now and then I have it in a bowl and it feels like a whole new breakfast. Maybe I am a bit crazy, but I feel the same way about eating with teaspoons and dessertspoons.

9. switch to savoury
A naughty mid-week bacon sarnie every now and then can make you appreciate the simplicity of your morning muesli all the more.

For more breakfast ideas check out the post I wrote last year – 7 secrets to a healthy breakfast.

stewed apples

[5 ingredients]
stewed apples as good as nannas

I’ve used both cooking and eating apples for this. Each gives a different texture with the eating apples holding onto their shape and resisting the urge to turn into mushy stewed apple goodness more than their cooking cousins.

I like to leave the skins on because I’m very lazy when it comes to peeling things and the skins add an interesting texture. But feel free to peel if you are delicate about these things.

You don’t really need a recipe. It’s more of a chop up the apples, bung them in a pot with a splash of water and some sugar, simmer until cooked enough for you, taste and add a little more sugar if needed and you’re done. But I thought I’d give quantities just in case.

If you’re worried about your apples browning and you’re a slow chopper, you can either splash a little lemon juice over the cut apples as you go. I prefer to get the first few apples cooking and add to the pot as I chop. Heat deactivates the browning enzyme and avoids the problem of having lemony apples.

6 apples (approx 1.4kg or 3lb)
1/4C sugar
1/4C water

Cut apples in half lengthwise then chop each half into 2 or 4 depending on how big the apples are. Cut out the core bit.

Pop them in a saucepan with the sugar and water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over a medium high heat at a brisk simmer, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes or until some apples are mushy but a few are still holding their shape – or however you like them.

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{ 27 comments }

Wei-Wei June 3, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Thank you, so much. My dad has been complaining to my mom recently about boring breakfasts, and I suspect these will help a lot. Thanks! :)

Wei-Wei

Jackie McMillan June 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Great ideas in a lovely post Jules. Leftover flambe bananas (from a late night winter treat) work on cereal pretty nicely too.

Dan @ Casual Kitchen June 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm

These are some great ideas Jules. One thing I’d add: I try to base my breakfasts on what I’m going to be doing that day.

If it’s going to be a physically demanding day (I’m training for a marathon right now, for example), I’ll eat a large, protein-based breakfast of eggs and/or cheese and meat.

If it’s going to be a cognitively damanding day, I’ll bias my breakfast to more lighter foods, fruits, low sugar cereals like muesli, etc.

Dan
Casual Kitchen

Claire June 3, 2010 at 9:17 pm

This has made me realise that maybe I should mix up the kids breakfast options rather than the Weetbix or homemade porridge they’re currently allowed -unless it’s a treat day when they may be allowed Special K… (I dread the day when they realise there are things like Coco Pops etc..) Think I may make up a batch of homemade museli for them and see how it goes..
Quick question – when you say cooking apples, which ones do you mean? Being English, cooking apples mean Bramley apples which I’ve just heard may be starting to be available, but aren’t common round my way sadly..
Oh, and I LOVE the idea to make your own vanilla yoghurt – love it in smoothies, but feel it’s too fake tasting when you buy it. Top job there!

Jean Sarauer June 3, 2010 at 9:35 pm

It’s easy for me to fall into the normal breakfast cereal rut, so I especially enjoyed the fresh ideas here. I do love vanilla yogurt, a bit of granola, and whatever fruit is season.

sarah @ syrupandhoney June 3, 2010 at 11:30 pm

It took me a while to warm up to the idea of fresh fruit in my cereal…I’m not sure why dried fruit made sense but fresh did not. Now it’s my favorite! I haven’t stewed apples since the fall, so thanks for the friendly reminder.

Laetitia June 3, 2010 at 11:37 pm

this recap is going to become my fundamentals! it’s nice to imagine alternatives to the meal we -too- often take without even thinking what we swallow!

Alex June 3, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I love the idea of having an excuse to eating leftover dessert first thing in the morning!And now I have it is writing ;-P

We mess with our cereal at home – honey, cinnamon, nuts, fresh apples and berries, preserved fruits and frothy milk if there is any leftover from making a latte. I could not just sit down to the same thing every day. Breakkie is meant to be fun.

Lisa June 4, 2010 at 12:05 am

At the moment I’m making rhubarb compote with vanilla, ginger and orange (juice and zest) that I spoon over my meusli and yoghurt. I buy a basic meusli base and add extra bran and flax as well as a seed mix for some crunch. Makes m wish I could eat it for every meal.

I like the idea for vanilla yoghurt.

Lisa (bakebikeblog) June 4, 2010 at 8:19 am

I think breakfast can be one of the best times to experiment! I love making a big batch of oatmeal and changing up the toppings to suit my cravings!

Lindy June 4, 2010 at 9:05 am

Something else useful if you’re trying to avoid added sugar – adding a dash of natural vanilla extract to warm milk seems to add sweetness without using sugar. Can’t believe I’ve only just discovered this trick!

barry rutherford June 4, 2010 at 9:17 am

I lie to soak my freiuty muesli in Soy milk & leave in Fridhge for an hour no longer for the best taste & then put on a spoonful of yellowbox honey to finish…

kylieonwheels June 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm

It’s starting to become amusing, how similar our eating habits are!

My weekday mornings consist of 15 minutes between bed and out the door, so the weekday brekkies are all about speed and the right nutrition to top up energy without bloating me. I make up a muesli of rolled oats, processed bran, pepitas, sunflower seeds and flax seeds, with a weekly variation of fruit and nut – this week it’s dates and walnuts, yum! Each night I put some in a mug with milk and a topping of stewed apple and it’s ready to down in the morning. I go a lot lighter on the bran these days, as I found myself bloaty and burping bran taste the whole way through a 50km ride…nice…

I usually have a small muffin (healthy homemade version!) or a muesli bar when I get to work just to top up the energy stores again.

When it comes to weekends, I have to make up for lost creativity (and salt)! Usual fave is an omelette, with filling of mushrooms (and ham if the man is around hehe). Sometimes it’s scrambled eggs, which I have recently mastered in terms of texture and moistness mmm. A heavy grind of fresh black pepper…oh my goodness is it Saturday morning yet??

One final point – breakfast is a suitable meal for ANY time of the day, and it may also be consumed more than once in any given day. That is the rule.

Paul June 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

+1 on the stewed apples- well boiled apple slices at least. I’ve been doing this to jazz up my 6 month old son’s morning porridge, and having the leftovers myself. mmmmm

sas June 4, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Mmmm, loving the stewed apples Jul! Be it with Jack’s breakie or dessert, or with a big bowl of hot runny custard when the craving hits at night they are all going down a treat at the moment :) Luv Sas xoxo

the sleepy time gal June 4, 2010 at 8:51 pm

beautiful blog–beautiful photography. thanks for the breakfast tips.

M June 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm

I like to add seeds to my breakfast cereal or muesli. Just mix linseed, sesame seed, poppy seed, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in a jar and sprinkle over muesli. Very healthy and love the texture of the seeds!

Katie@Cozydelicious June 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

This is fantastic! I totally get into a breakfast pattern… granola and greek yogurt day in and day out. And I love my homemade granola, but it’s getting old! Those apples sound like a lovely way to shake things up a bit! And I love the warm milk tip. Yum!

Tiffany June 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm

days off may be reserved for pancakes, omelettes, or fresh baked scones, but most of my mornings start with mueslix, too; and i too, look forward to it each morning, sometimes even each night as i plan what to jazz it with. youre right, its a blank canvas and my favorite flavour trick is sprinkling chamomile tea leaves over a bowl laden with walnuts and blueberries; or hazlenuts, figs, and pears (yogurt and honey a must). other herbs are lovely too, especially lemon thyme and lavender. hope youll try!

Carolyn June 6, 2010 at 7:24 am

Here are some of my favorite breakfasts: raisin bran and cheerios mixed together. Cold cereal with strawberries, blueberries or banana. I also add cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar, maple syrup or fruit to my oatmeal. I make my oatmeal with milk instead of water to make it more creamy, or you can make it with water and add a splash of almond or soymilk afterwards to make it vegan. Also, cream cheese and jelly sandwiches are very good. When I need something to really fill me up on a particular day, I will eat something with peanut butter.

Michelle@TastyThailand June 6, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I just love your blog. Your photos are gorgeous!! And I’m with you on the breakfast cereal, except instead of muesli and yoghurt, my choice is granola, yoghurt and fresh fruit. Could eat that every meal, never mind every day :)

Michelle@TastyThailand June 7, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Oh and just wanted to add one tip – a friend years ago gave me an idea for toast, which I still eat often.

Two slices of wholewheat toast. Spread with almond butter, then sprinkle with granola (or muesli), top with raisins, a drizzle of honey and then slices of banana. Yep….LOADED with calories, but the best breakfast ever :)

jules June 9, 2010 at 5:54 pm

michelle – that’s some crazy sounding breakfast toast – thanks for sharing

carolyn – couldn’t agree more about the filling power of pnb!

yay sas. glad to hear jack’s into stewed apples

claire
I haven’t had special k in ages – love that it’s a special treat for your kids.
the most common cooking apple in oz is the granny smith. I think golden delicious are of that ilk as well. I’ve been on the lookout for brambleys as well. let me know if you find any

kim June 12, 2010 at 11:26 am

You can also make a batch of wholegrain pancakes and freeze them for later. :)

Penny July 2, 2010 at 7:51 pm

I’ve worked out a breakfast that I’m happy to eat every weekday – I never get bored – it’s always a treat .

It’s always a slice of melon to start – generally wateremelon or papaya followed by a banana smoothie. Just a sliced ripe banana, dollop of plain yoghurt, a small spoon of uncooked oats, a splash of milk – zapped till smooth with a hand blender. A large spoon of granola sprinkled on top is a delicious option.

contstinsi December 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm

“Now it’s my favorite! I haven’t stewed apples since the fall, so thanks for the friendly reminder.”
Intresting. I would like details!

Kris Erskine July 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

We generally use Jazz apples for stewing and also add the juice and zest of a lemon (per 6 or so large apples), a good dash of cinnamon and a slightly smaller one of nutmeg.

It’s pretty much one of our favourite breakfast, snack and dessert meals.

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