Austin360Cooks: Ditching eggs for overnight oats, popped amaranth

Soaking oats overnight in yogurt is an easy way to make a no-cook oatmeal for breakfast. Contributed by Better Homes and Gardens

Soaking oats overnight in yogurt is an easy way to make a no-cook oatmeal for breakfast. Contributed by Better Homes and Gardens

My go-to breakfast is scrambled eggs.

After a childhood spent eating Lucky Charms and waffles for breakfast before school, I crave something savory first thing in the morning, so nowadays I usually scramble eggs. I can make them while the kids are having their own bowls of cereal for breakfast and wrap up the eggs in a tortilla so I can eat them on the way to school.

After so many years of quickie breakfast tacos, I’m starting to get bored with them. A weird thing happens when you eat the same thing over and over and over again, even when you’re a food writer — you forget what other options are out there. I remember thinking at some point toward the end of the last school year: “Oh yeah, oatmeal. I forgot about that.”

When I was putting together this week’s story on granola and muesli, I found a number of similar dishes that I’ll be adding to my breakfast repertoire this year. The first two are overnight oatmeal recipes, which are really just simplified muesli. Instead of mixing oats with other ingredients first and then adding that mixture to milk or yogurt, these two Better Homes and Gardens recipes call for mixing the oats and other ingredients directly with the yogurt the night before and letting the moisture soften the oats and meld the flavors overnight.

RELATED: Waking up to homemade granola, muesli will cure back-to-school blues

The second idea comes from “Everyday Whole Grains” author Ann Taylor Pittman, who pops amaranth for a totally different kind of crunch. Popped amaranth would be an excellent addition to any granola or muesli recipe, but they stand out all on their own in her parfait.

They don’t pair as well with salsa, but you can save the tacos for lunch.

Carrot Cake Overnight Oatmeal

2/3 cup (about 1 small carton) plain yogurt, any kind
2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup finely shredded carrot
2 Tbsp. raisins
2 Tbsp. crushed pineapple
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. chia seeds or flaxseed meal (optional)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts, toasted

In a bowl, combine the first nine ingredients (all except the walnuts). If desired, transfer mixture to a pint jar with a lid or two half-pint jars with lids. Cover and chill overnight or up to 3 days.

To serve, spoon oatmeal into cereal bowls. Top with walnuts and, if desired, additional pineapple and toasted coconut. Serves 2.

— From “Better Homes and Gardens Calorie-Smart Meals: 150 Recipes for Delicious 300-, 400-, and 500-Calorie Dishes” from the editors of Better Homes and Gardens (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)

Popped amaranth adds crunch to this yogurt parfait from “Everyday Whole Grains.” Contributed by Hélène Dujardin

Popped amaranth adds crunch to this yogurt parfait from “Everyday Whole Grains.” Contributed by Hélène Dujardin

Popped Amaranth and Yogurt Parfaits

Corn isn’t the only grain that pops: Amaranth, quinoa, millet and sorghum do, too. With the smaller grains (amaranth and quinoa), popping in a dry pan works best; millet and sorghum work better with a little oil in the pan. Here’s how it’s done, and a recipe idea for how to use it. Don’t make the parfaits too far ahead (like the night before) because the popped grains may get soggy. Use any fruits you like.

4 Tbsp. uncooked amaranth
1 large pink or ruby red grapefruit
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1 cup plain 2-percent reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. honey

Heat a large, heavy Dutch oven over high heat at least 5 minutes. Spoon 1 tablespoon amaranth into pan, and check to see that seeds almost immediately start popping. If they don’t, and they instead sit in the pan and burn, the pan isn’t hot enough, and you’ll need to start over.

If they do, cover the pan (popped seeds will fly everywhere) and shake it back and forth on or just over the burner until you hear the seeds stop popping. Immediately pour popped amaranth into a bowl; repeat procedure with remaining amaranth, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Peel and section grapefruit. Combine grapefruit and pomegranate. Combine yogurt and honey, stirring well. Spoon 1/4 cup yogurt mixture in bottom of two (8-oz.) jars or glasses; top each serving with a layer of popped amaranth and a few spoonfuls of the grapefruit mixture. Repeat layers. Makes two servings, with extra popped amaranth.

— From “Everyday Whole Grains: 175 New Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice” by Ann Taylor Pittman (Oxmoor House, $24.95)



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