Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wheat berry Breakfast Bowl

Wheat berry Breakfast Bowl with Apples, Dates & Raisins.
In the Greek Orthodox Church, we have a Tradition of Memorial Services. After a loved one passes away, we don't offer only a Funeral Service, but also we continue to offer prayers in the days (at 40 days, for example), months (at Six Months, for example), and years that follow (at One Year, Five Years, etc). In a large Church, there are such short services at the end of Sunday Liturgy almost every week. After the Service, it is customary for the bereaved family to share a food called Kolyva with other Church Members. Each village in the Old Country - in fact each neighborhood - has its own recipe, but they all start out with Wheat berries or Shelled Wheat (my Internet research tells me that they're two names for the same thing).

The dish reminds us of the hope of the Resurrection in the Bible Verse "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24, KJV.

When visitors come to Church and try this dish, they nearly always say the same thing, "This would make a GREAT breakfast food!" I agree! I don't serve it  in the same recipe that we do at Church, but I like it the following way.

This is what you do:

Wheat berries in the Slow Cooker

Prepare wheat berries - this can be done anytime, but since it takes 2 hours, you probably don't want to do it right before breakfast. Shelled Wheat is best prepared in the Slow Cooker. This makes the soaking step, and frequent stirring unnecessary. For each cup of wheat berries, put 2 cups of water into the Slow Cooker or Crock Pot. Cover and turn on high. Two hours later, test for doneness and drain. Voila! Cooked Wheat berries! (If you actually DO make Kolyva, you might also find this method easier than the traditional stove top method : ) Store the berries in the refrigerator to use as needed (I understand they also freeze well). This method makes a firm, plump, al-dente wheat berry. If you want a softer, well-done berry, of course you can cook longer with a little more water.

Wheat berry Breakfast Bowl

Put desired amount of cooked wheat berries in your bowl (If you're allergic to wheat, or have Celiac Sprue, Brown Rice makes a nice substitute). Wheat berries may be eaten cold or at room temperature, or if you desire, you can warm them in the microwave.
Top with your favorite seasonal fresh fruit and/or dried fruit.
Nuts, sugar or other sweetener, cinnamon, etc can also be added according to your preferences, but I usually don't. Unlike Oatmeal, Wheat berries have enough flavour and texture of their own, that sugar is not absolutely necessary.

That's it!

Since Wheat berries are a whole grain, they have more staying quality than many refined breakfast foods.

Wheat is getting a lot of bad press right now, but in the Christian Tradition, wheat holds a special place - with it we make our Prosphora (the bread for Holy Communion), our Artoklasia (a sweet bread for special services), and our Kolyva. So I see it as pretty special!

This is being shared at Simple Living Wednesday and Healthy Vegan Friday


  1. We were just talking about other religions do this or just the Orthodox churches? I think it's just the Orthodox Christians who have services to honor those who have departed on the 3rd, 10th, 40th and year anniversary. We call it kolyva or kutia. Many people in our parish make it with rice instead of wheat berries. I prefer the wheat berries, honey, finely chopped walnuts and raisins or dried currants.

  2. I've never seen it among any other group - but I'm no expert. I've never seen rice for it in a Greek Church - but good to know about that variation : ) I'm a big fan of rice!

    The Greeks and Russians have different recipes for these things - even from village to village among Greeks it's different. I tend to favor those recipes with lots of sugar ; )


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