One of the foods that just about tops my winter comfort food list is cream of wheat. I love it. But I still remember, back when I went vegan 14 years ago, it did cross my mind whether this meal was even vegan—specifically because of “cream” in the name.
So, is cream of wheat vegan? Cream of wheat is generally vegan. The main ingredients are just wheat and added vitamins. Some ways of preparing cream of wheat may include milk or butter, but vegans can just use plant-based milk or vegan butter instead.
Read on for all the information you need to know on how to make sure your cream of wheat stays vegan, the health benefits of cream of wheat, and 3 of THE BEST ways to prepare it!
What Is Cream of Wheat?
For those who don’t know, Cream of Wheat is actually a brand name for farina—much like Kleenex is a brand name for tissues. And farina is a breakfast porridge made of coarsely ground semolina wheat kernels.
If you suffer from celiac disease or are following a strict gluten-free diet, you should avoid farina. In that case, you can try cream of rice or cream of oatmeal instead. They don’t quite have the same feel, but they’re good alternatives.
Making Sure Your Cream of Wheat Is Vegan
Traditional, unprocessed cream of wheat is undisputedly vegan. But many boxed brands and instant varieties may include refined sugar.
Refined sugar is often (but not always) processed using animal bone char. So sugar can be controversial from a vegan standpoint.
Most vegans are still okay with eating refined sugar because it’s hard to track down how the sugar in a specific product was refined. And it’s not really a major animal ingredient anyway. But some vegans do avoid refined sugar—so keep that in mind.
If you’re adding your own sweetener, you can use vegan options like fruit, maple syrup, agave, stevia, erythritol, or monk fruit. In fact, check out my blog post on 18 healthy ways to sweeten oatmeal—they all apply to cream of wheat, too!
Needless to say, any addition of dairy products such as cow’s milk or butter is not vegan. So if you want that creamy texture, opt for non-dairy options such as soymilk, coconut milk, or even homemade almond milk.
Health Benefits of Cream of Wheat
Most brands of farina (such as Cream of Wheat) are enriched with many essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, and vitamin B, making it a healthy way to start the day.
Cream of wheat is also considered a complex “healthy” carb, which will keep you full for a longer time. It’s also less likely to spike your blood sugar levels, unlike most other boxed breakfast cereals.
It’s also a good source of fiber and easy to digest. There are even whole grain varieties for those looking specifically to increase their dietary fiber intake.
Because of being rather bland by itself, cream of wheat is considered an excellent meal to have after having an upset stomach.
3 Ways to Prepare Vegan Cream of Wheat
In the spirit of broadening the variety of your vegan menu options, check out these amazing ways to prepare a vegan cream of wheat dish. (Non-vegans should enjoy these, too!)
I couldn’t resist starting with the classic feel-good way to prepare this dish. A bowl of steaming hot cream of wheat has been an American breakfast staple for God knows how many years.
However, there are many ways to put a spin on the traditional dish, so you’ll be able to have it for several days in a row without getting bored.
Here are a few of my favorite topping combinations:
- Raspberry granola
- Maple cinnamon
- Orange zest and ginger
- Raw cocoa and walnuts
You can increase your dish’s nutritional value and tweak it to meet your individual requirements by adding ingredients like bran, wheat germ, flax seeds, or chia seeds—the possibilities are endless!
Personally, I like adding ground flaxseed to my cream of wheat. Flax has some insane health benefits, so it feels great to get some every morning.
2. Savory Cream of Wheat
Did you know that cream of wheat can be made into a savory dish as well?
This was news to me—until I was introduced to the Indian dish “Upma.” Savory is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cream of wheat, but this hearty dish makes for a nice change.
The best thing about upma, though, is that you can have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s quick and nutritious for any time.
Check out a vegan upma recipe here.
3. Cream of “No Wheat”
What if I told you about a way to make “cream of wheat” gluten-free, and even higher in fiber and protein?
This Cream of “No Wheat” is grain-free, with its base made up of a mix of nutritious nuts, seeds, and coconut flour.
It’s as quick and easy to prepare as the original version. You can pre-mix the dry ingredients to make your own instant version, too.
Simply heat your non-dairy milk in a saucepan and pour in the mix—you’ll have yourself a warm, creamy, grain-free porridge in minutes, minus the clumps that traditional cream of wheat has!
Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey
1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.
2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).