Friday, March 13, 2009

We are a Boxed Cereal Nation

I really hate to post this. I mean, boxed cereal is so perfectly convenient! But since we all care deeply about our children's health, I am going to stick my neck out here. I might step on some toes... but keep in mind, I love boxed cereal too. It's tough to give up! Especially when breakfast needs to be fast! Maybe the soaked granola solution I posted yesterday will soften the blow a little...

We need to stop feeding our children processed cereals. You and me both.

For this post, we are going to set aside the added sugars, BHT, flavors, colorings and other preservatives. We are just going to look at what happens to grain when it is high-heated. Stick with me here... I will give some other solutions in addition to the soaked granola.

Breakfast cereals that are puffed or flaked are made by a process which utilizes high heat and extreme pressure. The high heat destroys a great deal of the grain's naturally occurring nutrients. In addition, it causes the oils found in the grain to go rancid which in turn increases free radicals in our bloodstream. But more importantly, the high heat and extrusion denatures the proteins. Paul Stitt, in his book Fighting the Food Giants, describes the resultant proteins this way:

Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the
puffing process of putting the grain under 1500 pounds per square inch of
pressure and then releasing it may produce chemical changes which turn a
nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.
He further writes about a clinical trial in which rats were fed four different diets:
  1. plain whole wheat, water, vitamins and minerals
  2. puffed wheat, water and the same nutrient solution
  3. water and white sugar
  4. nothing but water and chemical nutrients

I am so sorry for these rats. The rats on the first diet lived over a year. The rats who were given water and nutrients lived 8 weeks. The rats consuming white sugar lived one month. And the rats on puffed wheat lived only two weeks, even though they were getting the same nutrient solution as the whole wheat fed rats. These results suggest that eating puffed cereal grains is more than a matter of not getting sufficient nutrients. These results suggest that there is something toxic about the puffed wheat.

There have been further tests. And none of them look good for processed cereals. These cereals actually have more adverse effects on our blood sugar than white sugar and white flour. In addition, they have been connected with behavior disorders, kidney, liver and pancreatic dysfunction and other nervous system disorders.

I wish I could sugar coat this (no pun intended). But this is only a brief summary of the shocking evidence. Perhaps in later posts I'll write more about boxed cereals. I think I've done enough damage today.

Just so I don't leave you on a bad note, here are a few ideas for cereal-less, yet still quick, breakfasts. My recommendation is to set aside a "prep" time when you make some of these things ahead so that pancakes can be popped in the toaster, etc on the go.

  • Soaked Granola with Milk
  • Smoothie with Granola Sprinkles; you could even make it a green smoothie!
  • Oatmeal; this can also be soaked overnight with one or two tablespoons of yogurt.
  • Eggs and Toast
  • English Muffins and fruit
  • Toaster Pancakes
  • Breakfast Protein Bars; most bars available in stores have a host of unwholesome ingredients. I plan to post my Protein Bar recipe in the weeks to come... stay tuned.

And, of course, I suggest a boiled egg with each of these (minus the eggs and toast, of course!)

If you have wholesome and quick breakfast ideas, post them in the comments! We all could use some fresh ideas :)


Noel said...

I have to admit, we have bought cereal for our kids way to much, but last week, I just didn't want to do that, so I made up a whole bunch of whole wheat waffles and kept them in the fridge. Everymorning the kids would pop them in the toaster and have them for breakfast. It took a little planning but it was much better. "Leiah" even fixed an egg on the side for herself :)

I'm going to make the granola for next week. I'm looking forward to it!

Sarah said...

We also make whole grain waffles ahead of time and then can pop them in the toaster. Also, instead of real maple syrup (which we sometimes use) we use applesauce heated with a little cinnamon.

A couple other ideas for quick breakfasts:

- applesauce and yogurt
- brown rice (cold), raisins, and milk

I use a rice cooker and make a full pot of rice at the beginning of the week and keep it in the fridge. We then use it for "cereal" in the morning or for quick dinners (or even lunch) we can just reheat instead of waiting for 1 hour while it cooks!

I also plan on trying your granola recipe and am very much looking forward to your protein bar recipe!

HappyHermit said...

I love this , when I was taking care of my father and newmothers children (7 of them from 16-7) I was appalled to find that they were being fed massive amounts of boxed cereals.

I took the budgeted money and I made them toast w/ applebutter , hot chocolate and warm oatmeal every other day for much cheaper , and also behaved better , decreased missing the bus , and became happier in the mornings than I had ever known them to be.

It was an amazing difference , I also wound up leaving a real mark on the two littlest girls (8&9) about healthy food and healthy food habits.

Sharon said...

Wow, this is very eye opening. Thanks for this information.

Mrs.KAOS said...

Thanks for the reminder; I loooove boxed cereal. I tend to eat the more natural kinds, but I know it's still not good for me

noelle said...

we also gave up boxed cereals a couple of months ago when I first read some of these studies. We now rotate between baked oatmeal, pancakes and egg/toast. I made your soaked granola yeserday and LOVE it! That will come into the rotation too.

It is harder now that my kids look to me for breakfast after so many years of just grabbing the box of cereal. But they know that cereal is not good for them and gladly eat what I prepare for them. I do have to plan breakfasts just like I plan dinners, but with a few set options it's easy.

Thanks for speaking the truth!

Cascia said...

What a great eye opening article! I agree boxed cereals are not healthy for our children. I love your healthier alternatives. Thank you for sharing this!

Crunchy Christian Mom said...

Wow. Poor rats.

I'm curious, though, is this just cereals made with puffed grains?

I usually buck up for the more expensive cereals when I do buy them (I prefer my own granola -- and I'm going to try yours!) Reading the ingredients list on Kashi's Heart to Heart, I see whole grain flours, but nothing puffed. I realize it's still processed differently from something made at home, but...?

Amy Ellen said...

Hey Crunchy Christian Mom,

I consider anything that deflates or gets mushy in milk as puffed. Homemade granola, grape nuts and such wouldn't. Does that help? Most cereals contain puffs of some sort -- or flakes. And, unfortunately, most granola bars include puffed rice. We look for store bought granola occasionally, and have found that some brands also include puffed rice... not all though.

Hope this helps! Amy Ellen