I thought I was going to sit at the computer this morning and have total writer’s block. My sister came to my rescue with an early morning phone call. She wanted to know what “fortification” meant on her cereal box. As I explained what it meant (adding nutrients back to a product whether it was there before processing or not), I of course, also mentioned how her cereal was made, how grains are NOT as healthy as we’ve been made to believe ( a topic for another day) and some breakfast alternatives. I’m going to have a similar discussion with you.
100% whole grain! No sugar added! High fiber! Gluten-Free! Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals! Is it any wonder that a trip down the cereal aisle with its colorful display of labels touting boundless energy and good nutrition is tempting and convenient? How about the ad suggesting you replace, oh dare we say a healthy meal like a veggie omelet or protein smoothie, with a bowl of their “special” cereal and you can fit into that dress in just two weeks! Sorry folks. There is no such thing as “healthy” cereal. Another oxymoron in the food world. Here’s one reason, how it’s made:
- Whole grains are crushed, ground and turned into a thin, sloppy, pulverized mixture.
- The slurry is cooked in a huge vat for several hours at high temperatures.
- It is transferred to a cooker/extruder and mixed with a variety of sugar, food coloring, oils, preservatives, vitamins and minerals and cooked longer.
- The slurry is then pressed forcefully to make squares and O’s and Fruity Pebbles.
- Other cereal grains are slightly dried before flattening into flakes and sprayed with food additives before further drying.
Here’s another reason. It’s in a box with a label that reads like a third-grade science project: High-fructose corn syrup (a cheap, highly processed food that is responsible for the rise in childhood diabetes and obesity), hydrogenated oils (trans fat that stiffens the arteries), Red # 40 (a known trigger for kids with ADHD), BHA and BHT keeps the oils from turning rancid). Does that sound like something you want to feed yourself or your family? I know I don’t! I haven’t eaten a bowl of cereal in years and I used to LOVE cereal! Well, packaged cereal that it. Steel cut oatmeal is my cereal of choice.
Funny thing about oatmeal. I went to look at the ingredient list on a Quaker Oats product and was dismayed to see 12 different options for something as simple as hot cereal. There was oatmeal for weight loss! Oatmeal with low sugar! Oatmeal high in fiber! Really? I’ve got a better idea. Buy a bag of steel cut oats. I get a 2 lb bag for about $3.79. Cook according to the instructions and the amount you want to make. I make mine with 1/2 water (clean and filtered, never tap…again, another topic!) and 1/2 dairy alternative (my family likes almond milk) and sweeten with stevia. I add some vanilla, cinnamon and dried fruit, we like blueberries or goji berries. I throw all this on low in the crock pot at bedtime. Viola! You awake to the glorious scent of breakfast wafting from the kitchen. A hot bowl of creamy deliciousness with a few added nuts beats a killer bowl of slurry any day!