Carb Girl and the Case of the Crappy Cereal
People who know me know that I’m totally Carb Girl. My superpower is craving bread, and sometimes, cereal. It stems from growing up in my parents’ house: every week, the smell of freshly baked challah filled the air, and brand new cereals no one had ever heard of before filled our pantry. If it came in cereal form, we had it. (Unless it had marshmallows in it, because those marshmallows were a problem if you were keeping kosher.) From Cookie Crisp to Gremlins (yes, Gremlins), from Raisin Squares to Star Wars cereal, there was no breakfast box we didn’t try.
As I grew up, my taste in cereal matured, but I was always willing to try something new. Because I knew it was better for me, I switched to Kashi. The fact that one of the highlighted textures was “twigs” was a little emotionally unsettling, but ultimately manageable, because it was actually quite good. And good for me, too.
But last week, my psyche finally defeated by the now-airborne “carbs are bad” virus, I thought that maybe fewer carbs in my diet would be a good thing. Maybe I didn’t need carbs in my morning cereal—maybe taste salvation could come to me from another place. So, I bought a cereal that forever changed my intrepid cereal-trying spirit.
It looked fine on the package. It was low-carb (5g) and high-fiber (6g), and high-protein (12g). The back of the box listed what each serving of the cereal, called “Hi-Lo” for its mix of high protein/fiber and low carb content, provided. One of these items was “Contains soy isoflavones and mixed tocopherols as natural antioxidants derived from Vitamin E.” I really wasn’t sure what that meant, but I read on.
“As you well know,” the side of the box continued to address me, “not many natural cereals can pass the taste-test also.” What a weird place to put an “also.” And I firmly believed that “taste test” should not be hyphenated (I mean, no one hyphenates spelling-test). As it turns out, all this language was designed to muddle my mind, and stall my thought process. Linguistic smoke and mirrors, trying to confuse me into buying the cereal. After all, it was new and good for me…
So I did it. I bought that box of cereal, took it home, opened it, poured myself a bowl and added milk. The face I made upon tasting it cannot be described. When I chewed, the tastes and textures that came to mind included: wood chips, grit, cardboard, and those “do not eat” silica gel packets that accompany new shoes. In short, isoflavony goodness, minus the goodness.
I tried different things to make the cereal palatable. I cooked it with raisins, figuring it could be a healthier version of oatmeal. I added it to yogurt and cottage cheese, to provide both substance and additional nutrition. I even tossed it on ice cream. But it was hopeless. I threw out the rest of the box, and I think that’s the first time I’ve ever done that to cereal. So much for a low-carb lifestyle. I would get my fiber and protein elsewhere.
If eating that cereal was essential for good heart health, then bring on the myocardial infarction. The cereal’s gone away, but Carb Girl’s here to stay.