A box of Red River Cereal on a table top

Red River Cereal

A box of Red River Cereal on a table top - By Doug Cook RD

 

Red River Cereal is a cereal made with a blend of cracked wheat, cracked rye, and whole and cracked brown flax seeds that was first created in 1924 in Manitoba Canada.

 

The cereal takes its name from the Red River of the North, more specifically the valley surrounding Winnipeg.

 

Not for the faint of heart, this cereal is serious business! 🙂

 

It’s a hearty cereal that is typically cooked into a breakfast porridge (like oatmeal porridge or cornmeal porridge). There are different Red River Cereal recipes out there such as:

  • Red River Cereal muffins
  • Red River Cereal bread
  • Red River Cereal cookies

 

What is Red River Cereal made of?

Red River cereal is a blend of whole and cracked flax seeds, cracked wheat and cracked rye. Essentially two whole grains and one seed.

 

This is whole grain and whole seed goodness at it’s best. Unlike a lot of other ‘whole’ grain cereals, Red River isn’t refined. Cracking helps to split open the seed and grains giving your digestive tract a little helping hand.

 

Think Whole Wheat Is Healthier? You’re Not Alone

 

If these seeds and grains went down the gullet intact, your digestive tract wouldn’t be able to extract their nutrients as well, or at all. We’re just not designed for that.

 

Cracking is better than rolling them really fine as cracking helps to maintain some of the seed’s and grain’s structure so that they are digested slower. This will help to keep you feeling full longer and help blunt the rise in blood sugar after eating it.

 

Now THAT’S good stuff!!

 

Does Red River Cereal keep you healthy?

How do I count the ways? 🙂

 

Flax seeds

Flax seeds have been part of the human diet for centuries. Like a lot of foods that have historical weight, science has confirmed what our early ancestors observed about this food. It does have a lot of health promoting properties

 

Flax seeds are loaded with nutrients. Don’t be confused by brown versus golden, both are equally nutritious (just like both chia and salba seeds are equally good).

 

I recommend 2 tablespoons (14 g) as a serving which has the following nutrients to name a few (1).

  • 74 calories
  • 2.6 g protein
  • 4 g carbs
  • 6 g fat
  • 3.2 g alpha linoleic acid (ALA)

 

They also have a smattering of vitamins and minerals (DV = daily value)

  • Vitamin B1 (16% DV)
  • Vitamin B6 (4% DV)
  • Magnesium (14% DV)
  • Iron (4% DV)
  • Calcium (4% DV)

 

They also have prebiotic fiber and lignans found in the flax hull (potent anti-cancer phytonutrients which reduce the risk for sex hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate).

 

Flax hull derived lignans are simply plant compounds that have antioxidant and estrogen-like properties, both of which can help lower the risk of cancer and improve health.

 

Ground and whole flax seeds -By Doug Cook RD

 

Don’t panic, flax hull lignans are estrogen-like, they are not the human equivalent of the hormone estrogen. Besides women, as you know make lots of estrogen but so do men; TONS more than plant-version found naturally in foods like flax and soy.

 

As mentioned above, lignans  can reduce the risk for prostate & breast cancer, and BUT also possibly skin and colon cancer (2, 3, 4, 5, 6). What’s not to like?

 

Food Sources of Alpha Linolenic Acid

 

Flax seeds can also help to lower cholesterol (7, 8), blood pressure (9, 10), blood sugar (11, 12) and help keep you full, a.k.a. feeling less hungry (13, 14).

 

The amount of flax that you’ll get in a serving of Red River Cereal will vary as the seed isn’t 100% evenly distributed but this cereal will help to add to your ‘nutritional bottom line’. You an always add some extra ground flax to your Red River porridge if you’d like to after it’s cooked.

 

Wheat

Cracked wheat is often used interchangeably with bulgur/bulgur wheat.

 

Cracked wheat is usually always 100% whole grain, whereas small amounts of bran may sometimes be removed from bulgur.

 

Bulgur isn’t 100% whole grain since some of the bran is removed but many still classify bulgur as a whole grain because only a small amount of bran is removed. In short, don’t sweat it.

 

Raw Organic Whole Grain Cracked Wheat in a bowl - by Doug Cook RD

 

Cracked wheat is coarsely cracked and less refined. This helps to slow digestion which can help you feel full, longer and balance blood sugar.

 

As with all whole grains, cracked whole wheat has its natural bran and germ and is a good source of nutrients such as protein, fiber, B vitamins including folate, vitamin E, and minerals such as zinc, selenium, manganese and magnesium (15)

 

Whole grain wheat has some good prebiotic fibers too. Both arabinoxylan and hemicellulose are found in wheat bran which feed the healthy bacteria in your gut (16, 17).

 

Whole grains, that include their bran, may reduce the risk for colon cancer to boot (18, 19, 20)

 

Rye

Rye is a hardy grain crop that was long considered a weed when it first appeared in wheat fields.

 

It became revered by farmers when they began to realize that rye grows more rapidly than wheat, can withstand submersion during floods, and continues to thrive during drought.

 

Fast forward to today and rye is seen as an everyday grain like wheat, or triticale.

 

Like its wheat sibling, rye is a rich and versatile source of dietary fiber, especially a type of fiber called arabinoxylan. It is also known for its high antioxidant activity which has also been shown to reduce the risk for colon cancer (20).

 

Rye grain also contains phenolic acids, lignans, alkylresorcinos and many other compounds with potential bioactivity (influencing your physiology). Research indicates that consuming whole grain rye has many benefits including:

  • Improved bowel health including its ability to increase stool weight and promote the growth of friendly bacteria.
  • Better blood sugar control (due to its fiber content and slowing digestion).
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (due to its protective antioxidants and source of minerals needed for glucose metabolism such as magnesium and chromium)
  • Supporting weight management and improved satiety (feeling full longer after eating)

 

Rye grain in rye filed with spike - by Doug Cook RD

 

Cooking with Red River cereal

To make a breakfast porridge, the suggested water to cereal ratio is 4:1 which can be adjusted to personal preference. It all comes down to how thick you like it.

 

Like oatmeal or quinoa porridge, most folks will add some kind of milk or ‘milk’ beverage such as almond, soy or rice beverage. Cream is also a classic topping which gives the porridge a naturally creamy ‘mouth feel’ or how we perceive the texture of food when we eat it.

 

It’s a plain tasting cereal after all, so a little help in the way of brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon or sliced banana etc. will make the medicine go down 🙂

 

Looking for other ways to add the goodness of this cereal to your diet? Check these Red River Cereal recipes: Red River Blueberry Muffins and Red River, Bran & Rolled Oats Muffins.

 

Doug Cook RDN is a Toronto dietitian and functional nutritionist with a focus on digestive, gut, mental health.  Follow me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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