Friday, October 21, 2005
Have you had your Wheaties today?
The other morning, after eating my bowl of Wheaties, I sighed a satisfied sigh and told my hubby, "I love cereal!" I mean, I really, really love cold cereal. The best is when the milk is ice cold, right out of the refrigerator. And you have to eat really fast, of course, before it gets all soggy. Soggy cereal is just nasty.
Cold cereal is my favorite thing to eat for breakfast, and it always has been. My mom never did the whole eggs, pancakes, and sausage bit while I was growing up. I imagine it was bad enough trying to get Dad and all seven kids out the door to school on time to bother with cooking. I've adopted her habits, and I don't feel one twinge of guilt for it. I have noticed, however, that my preferences have changed over the years.
Growing up, we rarely, if ever, got sugar cereal. Mom bought the standards: Cheerios, Wheaties, Corn Flakes, and Shredded Wheat (a.k.a. "shredded hay bales"). We would often get Rice Chex, Wheat Chex, or Kix as well. I became quite fond of all of them. Kix were cool because you could bite the top off the bigger ones and float them like boats in your milk. (Kix tasted way better back then, before they changed the formula to make them taste sweeter. Now they taste gross. Even my kids won't eat them.) Occasionally, Mom would splurge with something like Honey Nut Cheerios. That box never lasted long. Honey Nut Cheerios called for multiple helpings. The unfortunate result of this feasting was my just-older-brother's inevitable case of gas. He would get pretty rank after Mom bought Honey Nut Cheerios. (And you don't ever want to put him together with almonds for a long car trip. Food for thought, Lesleigh.)
Then there was Christmas: the only time we got "real" sugar cereal. The tradition in our family is that Mom & Dad buy those little tiny boxes of cereal (the ones that come in a variety pack) and put one in each of our stockings along with a banana. That was breakfast for Christmas morning. We looked forward to it all year long. ("It" the cereal, not "it" the banana.) Christmas morning was the only time during the year when we got to experience what Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms tasted like. Golden Grahams were like manna from heaven. And you were really lucky if you got the Cocoa Pebbles because they turned the milk to chocolate milk. How cool is that to eat cereal with chocolate milk?
Cheerios hold a very special place in my heart, and not just because I love the taste. The morning I got married, I chose Cheerios for breakfast. I still remember feeling like I had a slightly upset stomach because I was worried that Phil wouldn't show up, and I thought my nervous tummy could handle a milder cereal. So there you have it: my last meal as a single person came from that famous yellow box with the glue-for-milk splashes coming out of the bowl of cereal and the artistically placed red strawberry nestled in among the Cheerios.
After Phil and I were married, I reveled in the freedom to choose whatever cereal I wanted. While I would occasionally buy the non-sugared standby's, we ate a lot of the cereals my mom never bought. My "personal favorites" list used to include things like Honey Nut Chex, Waffle Crisp, Honeycomb, Corn Pops, Golden Grahams, Honey Nut Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats, and Blueberry Morning. I figured I'd be eating like that the rest of my life.
Not so, Grasshopper. While my kids still get cereal we never, ever got when I was little, I find that my cereal eating habits are shifting. What is it with aging that makes our tastes change? Where I once enjoyed variety I now seem to eat the same thing every morning for months. And my choices have changed too. No more Sugar Coated Chocolate Sugar Bombs for this girl! We're talkin' F-I-B-E-R. For a while, I ate Cracklin' Oat Bran every morning. Lot's of complex carbs in that bowl, I'm telling you. Then I went to Wheaties and alternated between the two for a while. Next I flirted with Frosted Mini-Wheats (or Frosted Mini Hay Bales, as Phil so loves to call them). The Vanilla Creme variety is especially tasty. Now? Back to Wheaties.
I must admit that I have broken my eating streak with a rare bowl of plain Cheerios here and there, and I have been known to indulge myself lately with a bowl of Peanut Butter Cookie Crisp (food for the gods, I tell you), but for the most part, I have deserted my sugared cereal friends. "But," you say, "What about the Frosted Mini-Wheats and Cracklin' Oat Bran? They have lots of sugar in them!" Yes, they do. But have you looked at how many grams of fiber you get with one bowl? We're talkin' major roughage. Way more than Cheerios. I think that pretty much cancels out the sugar.
I wonder, as I look at my past days of breakfast cereal choices, what the future holds? Will I stay with the more healthful choices of my youth or will I return to the glory days of high sugar content? Only time will tell, my friend...only time will tell.