I just love the texture and the versatility. Having grits for breakfast reminds me a lot of oatmeal actually. They cook up just like oats, they both absorb a lot of liquid and get all thick and creamy. To be honest, I was getting pretty darned bored of oatmeal. Oats are a staple of a healthy whole foods vegan diet and I tended to just have oats when I couldn't think of anything else. I would mix it up - warm cooked oats, cold overnight oats, baked oatmeal cut into bars (I was on a baked oatmeal kick last month).
Grits seem to give you the same flexibility and you can easily make them as a savory breakfast too. I haven't tried sweet grits with maybe some maple syrup, I bet those would be lovely too. The horizon is wide open for my grit eating pleasure! So many options to explore.
This picture is of my Memphis BBQ Cheezy Grits. This is an adaptation of a Happy Herbivore meal plan recipe. You see, what happened is that Simon & I wanted to buy some authentic Memphis BBQ sauce for my Dad and Stepmom for a Christmas gift. Central BBQ is just down the road from us and they are super popular here in Memphis. We popped in to buy some sauce (yes, I know, the irony of the vegans in the Memphis BBQ joint. I prayed for all of the piggies while I was there and hope some day everyone makes Vegan BBQ). They have 5 flavors: Mild, Hot, Vinegar, Mustard, and Sweet Heat. My Dad loves a sugary sauce but can also take a little kick, so Sweet Heat sounded good. It wasn't their Hot sauce, right??? Oy Vey. I ordered the largest 32 oz. size and the packaging was all wrong - it was a sort of homemade squeeze bottle vs. the labeled and sealed 16 oz. bottles that make great souvenir gifts. They went to the trouble to pour down this big bottle and bring it to us, so we took it home.
I took a little taste test and I am glad I did! Sweet Heat was HOT - burn your mouth off hot! Way too hot for my Dad & Stepmom. I went back and got them a nice 16 oz. sealed souvenir bottle of MILD for a gift. That left us with a huge bottle of Sweet Heat. So I started looking up vegan BBQ recipes and found Cheezy BBQ Grits in one of my Happy Herbivore Meal Plans. (I use these meal plans for batch cooking tasty healthy vegan food most weeks. It's a great service.)
I made the recipe as is and Simon & I couldn't eat it because it called for a full cup of BBQ Sauce - you guessed it, SWEET HEAT!, to one cup of dry grits. We ended up with way too much BBQ bean sauce, which I have been using just a few spoonfuls each day to top a fresh bowl of grits. I love it, but a little Sweet Heat goes a long way. So, here is my adaptation (pictured above):
2 cups water
1/2 cup dry grits (or polenta)
2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
Mix all of that in a pan over medium high heat, bring to a boil stirring constantly. The grits will thicken, boil, then cook down to a lovely creamy consistency. Once you see that, they are done.
1 can pinto or white beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup BBQ sauce (go with Central BBQ Sweet Heat if you are a lunatic!)
1 cup diced red onion
Heat your beans, BBQ sauce, and onion in a pan or just mix in a bowl. You can add a few spoonfuls cold and it will heat right up. Grits have some sort of thermonuclear heat capacity and will stay plenty hot if your topping is added cold. They will warm the topping right up or you can mix it in.
Voila! If you have hot BBQ sauce like me, you only add a few spoonfuls of topping each day with a fresh batch of grits. The amounts above for the grits make a nice hearty single breakfast serving. The topping will last you a week or so.
I can't wait to experiment with more savory & sweet grit options. Next up will be baby leek grits. We ended up with some baby leeks as Whole Foods were out of scallions, but then found scallions at Kroger, so I need to use up baby leeks. I think I will cook them right in with the grit cooking step and top with a bit more Sweet Heat. Delicious!
Does anyone out there love grits as much as me? Any new breakfast grits ideas for me? Give them a try if you never have and let me know what you think. It is a healthy warm filling breakfast for cold January mornings.