Cereal-it’s not just for breakfast anymore

2 Oct

“What should I blog about baby girl?” I asked my teenaged daughter this morning.  She had just finished a bowl of raisin bran, and so that was her inspirational answer…cereal!  We do eat a fair amount of breakfast cereal in our house, and not just at breakfast.  My daughter provided great inspiration.  But first a brief history of breakfast cereals.

In the mid-eighteen hundreds, breakfast in this country was traditionally cooked, and consisted of eggs and meat.  This type of breakfast did not appeal to vegetarians, such as the Seventh-day Adventists, so they tried cereals and grains.  To be edible, however, the grains needed a lot of soaking, which was inconvenient.  Along came John Harvey Kellogg, who, with much trial and error, perfected the “grain flake”.  And you know the rest of the story!

Breakfast cereal can actually be pretty flexible if you think about it.  First, it can be used in a snack mix.  Toss raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, pretzels and one or two cereals together and you have a pretty decent portable snack.  Put the mix in some zip top bags and keep them in the pantry for a quick snack to grab on the go.  It is sweet, salty, and has grains and crunch, so it can be perfect in the late morning sweet fix or a satisfying afternoon crunch.

Second, some cereals are a good breakfast but make sure not to front load your day with sugar.  Making good cereal choices are important to make sure your cereal can provide fiber, minerals, and even some calcium when you add milk.  Cereals are usually fortified, meaning that there are vitamins and minerals added to them that otherwise would not be present in the natural state of the grain.  Which is fine.  This is where looking at the nutrition panel can really pay off.  Did you know that some brands of raisin bran have up to 17 grams of sugar for an 8 ounce serving?  That translates to over 4 teaspoons of sugar.  That is more than twice the sugar of a traditional “kids” cereal, ( such as the kind with a cartoon character representing the brand).  However, the raisin bran had much more potassium, protein, fiber and vitamins than the “kids” cereal.  Look at labels and choose wisely.

Third, cereal is a great after school snack, one that my kids enjoy in the afternoon.  We usually drink water with our meals, so this is also a good opportunity for getting a serving of milk in too.  It is quick, easy, kids can make it themselves, and it can be good brain food to have before diving into homework.  Just make sure that everyone cleans up after themselves.  My kids and their friends know to “rinse and stack” their dishes in the dishwasher after they eat, even if it is just a bowl and spoon. Easy.  Love it!

So use your imagination, get rid of the “breakfast” label, and make a delicious snack mix.  Cereal is great anytime.  With milk, in a snack mix, or just a handful to munch on.  Read the label, choose wisely, and enjoy.

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