Cereal Killer

Falling, Russell Steven Powell oil on canvas board, 12x16

Falling, oil on canvas board, 12×16

I AM BACK IN CEREAL. I had gotten dangerously low. Holed up in this house during these last snowstorms I couldn’t get out and replenish my stock, so by this morning I was down to oatmeal — the regular kind, not instant or Irish.

I made it out to the grocery store today and splurged, bring home raisin bran, maple-pecan granola, and two boxes of Frosted Mini-Wheats (I know, I know; but they were on sale, and they are one of the last remaining concessions to my sweet tooth).

The cupboard filled with brightly colored cardboard boxes adorned with spoons and bowls full of cereal (enlarged to show texture), my world — or at least my first meal of the day — is once again secure.

They say you should start your day with a good breakfast. For me, cereal is a great way to get some whole grains, topped with fresh fruit and a dash of milk. It doesn’t hurt that it is sweet. It still feels vaguely wholesome.

You can’t get enough fruits and vegetables. I have a glass of orange juice for breakfast, but cereal provides a perfect bed for bananas, blueberries, or raspberries (which I usually eat only as an accompaniment, less often on their own). Fruit adds color, sweetness, and contrasting texture to cereal’s bland, crumbly base. Fruit gives me two servings in my first meal.

Yet beginning every day by eating cereal for breakfast can become a lot like the way I end it, brushing and flossing: habitual and rote. When it comes to cereal for breakfast, consistency trumps innovation. But I don’t want to become too predictable or boring.

I do break things up once and awhile, going out to a diner with a friend for eggs and home fries, making waffles or slathering peanut butter on toast. But most days there’s something richly satisfying about eating cereal, bordering on the ritual.

I’ve even heard it said that some people eat the stuff for dinner, on occasion.

Not me. While I’ve always loved the Velvet Underground’s song “Beginning to See the Light,” with its line, “wine in the morning, and some breakfast at night,” when it comes to cereal I’m strictly an a.m. guy.

It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. My love affair with cereal includes such heirlooms as Sugar Crisp and Puffa Puffa Rice, classics like Rice Krispies, Cheerios, and Kellogg’s Cornflakes, as well as the more adult granolas and Special K.

All this talk about cereal makes me hungry, and thinking of Christmas morning: the only way I can get to my next bowl is by first going to bed. With luck, when I awake those slightly green bananas will have turned yellow enough overnight to brighten up tomorrow’s cereal, an antidote to winter’s lethargy, its cold grays and whites.

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2 comments

  1. For me, healthy eating has required new rituals. Breakfast is the meal I have most control over and I make the most of it. The main course is a green drink (blended salad? variation of gazpacho?) and these days my recipe is pretty standard: lettuce, spinach, scallions, parsley, kale cucumber, tomato, avocado, chick peas, garlic, salt and pepper, ginger, ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, and chia seed. Then I have some fruit – maybe berries or an orange or grapefruit. A handful of mixed nuts tops it off.

    Cereal? I keep a box of Cheerios for an occasional quick evening meal (with berries, flaxseed, yeast and soymilk).

  2. Yes, I do Frosted MiniWheats–so what!! I also do cereal and bananas for dinner after a late class, why not? But at heart, I am an oatmeal fan–has to have nuts, raisins or craisins, maple syrup—and–wait for it– add some grapenuts while cooking–lovely.
    Hope you are well, Russell!!

    Geri

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