(Ce)REAL TALK (Ce)REAL QUICK: From soggy flakes to staying awake!

We’ve all had those mornings where we simply cannot craft those aesthetically pleasing waffles as seen on Instagram: reality hits, the bus schedule don’t stop for nobody, and we’ve got to get our day started. Breakfast, as a result, tends to suffer. Our cereal resembles that baby food you used to play with as a toddler, and suddenly, you’re not feeling terribly hungry. Therefore, breakfast gets pushed aside, you grab your first can of ENERGY 5 to start the day, and the foodies of the world, like myself, sigh out of sheer disappointment.  

Now, doing this once in a while is not so terrible. Like I said, we’ve all been there. However, making this a daily occurrence is neither promising, nor is it an ideal situation to put your physical body and state of mind through, especially at the start of your day. Your initial source of energy is rid of, leaving you sad, fatigued and bound to binge eat later on in the day.  

Personally, I think breakfast gets a fantastic rep, but a bad follow through, especially for my fellow college students out there. On your way to an 8 am, merely rolling out of bed to brush your teeth deserves a round of applause, never mind crafting a nutritious and delicious meal. With that in mind, my point is not simply that we all need to eat breakfast, but that we need to be eating good, satisfying, and energizing meals.  

Now fear not! Luckily, you took the time out of your day to read this article, and I’m here to help transform your breakfast into something you not only look forward to on Sunday afternoons, but everyday you’re alive – wow, that got deep REAL QUICK.  

As a kid, I always wanted to like cereal because everyone else seemed to love it, yet I simply couldn’t get myself to. I know, what an intellectual child I must have been to consider the liking of my breakfast in comparison to other young, thoughtful third-graders – not necessarily. I guess I’ve always loved to view every meal I’ve either eaten or will eat in the future as a delicious treat, as opposed to waiting an entire week for those occasional “TREAT YO SELF” weekends.  

Up until I began my freshman year of college, I never viewed cereal as a necessarily promising form of breakfast.  I always ended up eating soggy, bland-tasting flakes, or solely ate the marshmallows out of the box and opted for a POP-TART as a plan B. Yet, like in many cases, plan B showed some not-so-promising results later on during the day as I felt fatigued, groggy and unsatisfied with my breakfast. As I sought to transform my diet into a far healthier lifestyle, I made the mistake of thinking cereal could never be a healthy option for breakfast because of its high sugar content, artificial flavoring, lack of vitamins and minerals, and processed ingredients. My dear, dear friends, I am here to tell you that this is a myth! And I’m here to tell you why.  

Looking at the ingredients section on any food label was never something I considered doing before college. I ate whatever I wanted, and never thought twice about the fact that food should not only fill, but fuel the body. As I said before, coming to college I realized that I wouldn’t have the same luxury of a fridge filled with organic, healthy goodness, and I would have to start preparing meals on my own. So, I followed this trend of a healthy lifestyle, and by doing so, began looking more closely into the ingredients I was putting into my body. The ingredients section is SO important and so helpful. I realized which ingredients triggered negative or positive effects in my body. For instance, going back to my cereal example, I would feel so unsatisfied with my sad and soggy flakes because the ingredients within those brands of cereal were highly processed and artificial. Going forward I knew that if I wanted an energizing meal, I should lean more toward whole foods with natural ingredients.  

In addition to self-checking the ingredients, I also researched online which types of breakfast foods serve as a long-lasting and healthy meal. When I came across “cereal,” I was blown away. Cereal? The colorful stuff with marshmallows and toys inside is… HEALTHY? Yes, my fellow wanna-be-breakfast-lovers, it can be! Like anything else, the health of the food derives from what goes in it. Just how the health of your body stems from what you put in it!  

When I found out cereal could and can be healthy when made with whole grains, natural sugars, and even from the most well-known superfoods - like beans in Power O’s - I was absolutely blown away!  I started researching which brands were recommended and began eyeing them down on my weekly grocery trips. Brands like Barbara’s Puffins and Nature’s Path amazed me with their limited number of whole ingredients, compared to the highly processed and illegible additives of other childhood favorites. I even caught the falsely advertised “health cereals” that claim their “whole-grain” ingredients serve as high quality, when in reality they’re just as bad as the others.  

My point here not only recognizes the importance of knowing what you put in your body, but also how to make the foods you put in your body taste great. Without further ado, here’s the right way to make cereal.  

Personally, I love to add a lot to my cereal bowl. I like to have different combos, flavors and even textures. 

First, I like to add a base.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking: a base? Isn’t the milk and the cereal all you need? Well my friends, no. Unless your intention is to risk the soggy sub-par flakes, you’re going to want a base. A base, such as the highfiber WeetaBix, adds a great softness to the crunchy cereal, allowing for better digestion.  

Second, I choose two or more cereals that I know will complement each other flavor-wise.

So let’s say I’m in the mood for a Reese’s cup, I know that I’m going to want to mix Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins with Coco Chimps Nature’s Path cereal.  

Third comes the milk.

Now, being a vegan, I enjoy non-dairy versions. From almond to soy, and coconut to hemp seed, these milks come in all sorts of flavors and range in creaminess, making for great options to boost the taste of your cereal. My favorite non-dairy milk tends to switch monthly, so right now I’m feelin’ vanilla almond milk. It’s light and has the scrumptious vanilla flavoring I love, and it complements any sort of cereal I eat.  

Fourth is my favorite part: TOPPINGS!

Yes, toppings do not just go on froyo, they can go on cereal too! And, for my artsy #insta #famous readers out there, toppings make for an aesthetically pleasing food photo-op. Let’s refer back to my Reese’s Peanut Butter cup vibe. For that bowl of cereal I would drizzle on some melted PB, and best of all, some melted dark chocolate or PB2 chocolate powder, ‘cause I know, you wanna be fancy with it. If you’re feeling creative, you could even swap out vanilla milk with chocolate, making for enhanced chocolate goodness. Lastly, I’d add some bananas or strawberries, maybe even both, and a sprinkling of crushed peanuts with some dark-chocolate shavings, and there ya have it. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for breakfast? Count me in! 

To sum up, breakfast is great and we all know this. But, knowing what makes it taste great, and what makes you feel great, is most important. So the next time you find yourself inching toward the wrongfully advertised “healthy” Chex cereal, reach toward the deliciously natural crunch of Organic Frosted Flakes – yes, they exist (thank you, Target)! Get in touch with your artsy and flavorful self, and get creative because let’s be (ce)real, we all want to have the feeling of Sunday brunch every morning.