Archive for the ‘cereal’ Tag

Bye-bye Blueberries   Leave a comment

Last week was officially the last week for blueberries. Two weeks ago they said it was the last week as well, so I was hoping there would still be blueberries this week. No such luck. We’ve been buying blueberries every week at the farmer’s market this year and eating them on our cereal for breakfast. I’ve never done that before but it just kind of happened naturally this year.

This spring/summer the search was on for cereal toppings that aren’t super sweet. In the past I topped my cold cereals with a variety of granolas, but the sweetness had become overbearing. I love the crunch and the extra kick of flavor, though. I found that the really expensive granolas at the grocery store that come in small bags aren’t too sweet. In fact they are full of nuts and dried fruit and I would have fallen in love if it weren’t for the fact that they’re really expensive and coupons are few and far between. I realized that what I craved wasn’t really a granola, what I wanted was the flavor of the fruit and the texture of the nuts.

So when blueberries showed up at the farmer’s market, I pounced. I pulled the walnuts out of the freezer, chopped a few up, and threw them in my cereal as well. Oh it was wonderful. My plans to learn how to make a low-fat low-sugar granola at home disappeared. All I needed was the nuts (walnuts or pecans) and the blueberries.

But now fresh blueberries are gone and I’m not sure what direction to go for that bit of extra flavor. I have to admit that I don’t get excited by raisins in cereal, and most other dried fruits at the store are sweetened. I’m hesitant to go with bananas because 1) they have to be shipped from far away, and 2) now that I’m making smoothies per my naturopath’s instructions I’m only eating one or two bowls of cereal per week so there’s a risk of having bananas go bad. Oh, and bananas have never been my favorite fruit. Strawberries would work, but I try to avoid strawberries unless I am certain that they are organic.

Maybe until the weather turns cool and I switch to hot cereal I’ll live with only chopped nuts as cereal topping.

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Posted September 18, 2010 by mayakey in food

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Peaches and Cream Oatmeal   Leave a comment

This weekend it has been pleasantly cool again, allowing me to enjoy an occasional but treasured treat: peaches and cream oatmeal. Since I only eat seasonally, this dish requires a confluence of factors: a weekend so that I have the time to cook steel cut oats, cool weather so I won’t overheat the house, and fresh peaches in the market. It is an example of how eating seasonally does not just refer to what produce one eats, but what dishes as well. I know lots of people adjust somewhat to the seasons, for example by eating more salads in the summer than in the winter, or cooking outside (read: barbecue). With the use of air conditioning keep the house cool no matter what the other conditions are, such planning and seasonal adjustments are probably less common now than decades ago.

For me, adjusting like this also keeps the things I love special. I love oatmeal and other hot cereals, but if I ate them all the time I think I would get tired of them. Only eating them when the weather is cool introduces scarcity, which makes them more valuable experience (funny how some economics concepts translate to real life: scarce items have higher value than common items). In the late winter/early spring I start looking forward to more scrambled eggs/omelets/ breakfast burritos, which take the place of oatmeal since they require less cooking time; and then in the fall I get excited about returning to hot cereal. When doing meal planning, think about what’s fresh, how much cooking you want to do, what effect the cooking will have on the house (heating a cold house, overheating a hot house), and what your body craves (cooling salads or warm and filling casseroles)

I also encourage everyone to make their own hot cereal mixes and not be limited to what marketers create for us in the store. As kids we used to enjoy the occasional treat of M&Ms in our oatmeal. Now this past winter my flavor du année was dark chocolate/white chocolate. I swirled dark chocolate chunks or cocoa powder with sweetened white chocolate chunks. The white chocolate provided the sweetening and the richness, while the dark chocolate offered a hint of flavor. I also love chopped walnuts, sometimes with maple syrup for sweetening. To do nuts in your oatmeal, put them in when you first start warming the milk or water so that the nut oils can diffuse into the entire pot. Apple cinnamon is another occasional treat. When putting fresh fruit in hot cereal, chop the fruit when you start the cereal on the stove and put one third to one half of the chopped fruit in the pot near the start of the cooking so that the flavor and sugars disperse throughout. That fruit will also often partially disintegrate and add to the texture. Right before it is done cooking you add the rest of the fruit so that you get the fresh flavor and texture as well. When adding cinnamon to hot cereal there are two ways to do it: stick and powder. If you add a cinnamon stick when you first start warming the milk or water there will be an almost perfumy cinnamon flavor throughout the cereal, and if you add powdered cinnamon during or at the end there will be a more forceful cinnamon flavor.

Posted June 20, 2010 by mayakey in food

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Frustration in the Cereal Aisle   3 comments

One thing to know about being an organic/”natural” foods consumer, is that there is no room for brand loyalty, and you can never sit on your laurels. The problem is the fact that as the small organic/”natural” companies become popular within the niche market they become attractive to big conventional companies. The LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) market segment is one of the fastest growing in our economy (or at least it was, I don’t regularly keep track of market analyses), and of course established companies looking to increase their profits want to get in on fast growing markets. One way to do that is to buy up the popular brands in the market segment. Cascadian Farms, Toms of Maine, Ben and Jerry’s, Burt’s Bees, Barbaras, Santa Cruz Organic, Stoneyfield Farm, and Annie’s are examples of companies that have been bought by other entities. The way I see it, this is not always a bad thing. Colgate-Palmolive didn’t buy Toms of Maine because it was an unsuccessful company in a rinky-dink market but because it is a successful company in a growing market. It is a great way to expand the brand, and increase consumer exposure. The problem is if the company doing the acquiring also changes the mission or products of the small company, which is rarely if ever for the better. Consumers who buy a product because it contains no synthetic additives, or is organic, or whatever, may not even know at first when things change because they trust the brand. Hence why there is no room for brand loyalty in this market. The loyalty needs to be to the values that caused you to pick up that brand’s original product in the first place.

I’m on this rant because I’ve had it with the cereal aisle at Whole Foods. This may be the tipping point for me to start writing letters to companies rather than just not buying their products (or shopping at their stores) and being done with it.

The problem is sugar. I’ve been fairly successful over time at reducing my sweet tooth, and  a couple of years ago cereal became a problem because it was just too sweet. I was starting to be disgusted by cereal even as it was one of my favorite breakfasts. I decided to take a year off and not eat any cold cereal for a while. This year I was looking forward to having cold cereal breakfasts again when the weather warmed up because I really do love them. Unfortunately I’m not actually enjoying shopping for my breakfast cereal because I can no longer find my unsweetened cereals. They are all sweetened or flavored and disgusting.

Back in January on Marion Nestle’s Food Politics blog I learned that Cascadian Farms had changed the recipe on their Organic Purely O’s to include sweeteners and other additives. At the time I just thought that it was an example of a brand being corrupted and just decided not to buy any more Cascadian Farms products (Cascadian Farms is currently owned by General Mills). But now that I’m actually shopping the cereal aisle again I am shocked by the changes. Barbaras has introduced some stupid flavored cereal, Annie’s Bunny Love (their version of O’s) is also sweetened, Kashi only has sweetened and/or flavored cereals, and I’ve realized that almost every single flake in the aisle is coated in sugar. The topper was yesterday when I wanted to buy Arrowhead Mills’ Shredded Wheat cereal and thankfully noticed that the picture on the box showed frosting. WHOLE FOODS ONLY HAD THE SWEETENED SHREDDED WHEATS!

I don’t want to just give up on cold cereal, but I can’t handle all that sugar in the morning. I find it disgusting. I need to take the time to do a detailed survey of the cereal aisle at Whole Foods to find all of my options there.  Am I going to have to start shopping for cereal at the regular grocery store (as opposed to Whole Foods) to get unsweetened cereals? That would be a wierd turn of events. (We already did that for milk when Whole Foods started selling the Organic Valley milk only as their 365 brand and we protested by buying our milk at Raley’s where it is still the real label.) I do think it is time to start writing complaint letters. I just hope it is not too late.

Posted May 24, 2010 by mayakey in advocacy, conscious living, food, shopping

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