Have you discovered the better cereal? If you haven’t, you don’t know what you are missing.

Have you discovered the better cereal?  If you haven’t, you don’t know what you are missing.  Some find it is tastier and less expensive than the boxed prepared cereal you may have been eating.  Because of its high fiber content, this cereal will help you with losing weight because a small bowl can keep you from getting hungry.    
When eggs came under the gun years ago and authorities told us they were going to kill us with high cholesterol, people happily turned to cereal. It is so easy, sweet and TV convinced them it was healthy.  
Long rows in supermarkets attest to the popularity of processed cereals.    Almost everyone I know eats cereal for breakfast and many eat it for the other meals and snacks.  It is easy.  Just dump some in a bowl with a little milk—no muss, no fuss, no bother.  Clean up is virtually nothing.  Kids can do it themselves.  Prepared cereals are the ultimate convenience food.  It is easy to convince yourself that they are nutritious by reading “whole grain”, “high fiber”, “natural”, etc on the box.  The problem is manufacturers can find a way to put most any false statement on a box.  Whole grain goodness can mean a tiny bit of whole grain, which has been processed so that it longer has any nutritional value.   
Yes, you actually have to cook the better cereal--steel cut oats.  If you soak them overnight, cooking time is very short.  It does require that you wash a pan or stick it in the dishwasher.  Washing it out immediately after use may actually take you a half minute.  
If you look at the number of ounces you get in a box of prepared cereal, you will be amazed at what you are paying for a pound of grain that really doesn’t even qualify as grain after all that processing.  Most cereals contain between 8 and 12 ounces per box and the cost is usually between three and five dollars.  A 24 ounce (a pound and a half) container of steel cut oats can range from $2.00 to $3.50.  
Large markets, like Whole Foods, sell them in bulk for less.  One fourth cup of cracked grain, three fourths cup of water, and a fourth teaspoon of salt will provide a good sized serving of cereal.  Since oats are naturally sweet, they require very little sweetener;  a little real butter, a drop of liquid stevia, honey, or some raisins make it plenty sweet.
Has all this egg dumping and cereal gulping caused us to be healthier?  
It seems to me more people are on medicine for cholesterol than ever before.  It is appearing now that high triglycerides are more harmful than high cholesterol.  High triglycerides are created by sugar and processed carbohydrates.  What is a main source of sugar in our diets?  Ready prepared cereal--eaten from the cradle to the grave!  If you read list of ingredients in the fine print on your cereal box, you will find that many contain four, five, six, or even seven different forms of sugar.  
Adelle Davis warned about these cereals back in the sixties saying you might as well eat from the sugar bowl.  The even worse high fructose corn syrup didn’t come into being until the seventies.  
It seems some people are learning that cereals may not be all they are cracked up to be.  The cereal market has been down the last few years.  Some of the most sugared cereals have been replaced by others that seek to fool consumers with health claims. 

The junk food industry is busy night and day convincing the public that the garbage they flavor and sugar is healthful.   In the case of oat cereals, look for the phrase “may” help lower cholesterol.  Yes, oats can help lower cholesterol but the processed to death small amount of oats contained in a ready prepared cereal won’t do it.  If you want the oats that can do that for you, go for steel cut oats.  They actually are only the whole grain with no additional sugar or chemicals.  Once you get used to eating real food, you will wonder how you ever tolerated, much less liked, the taste of the processed stuff that poses as food.  
The breakfast cereal industry has gross profits margins of 40-45 percent, and 90 percent in some markets.  It has grown continually throughout its history.  In 2008, the total breakfast cereal sales were slightly over $13.3 billion in the U.S. alone.   Eating that much worthless junk is bound to create a sick nation!
All cereals are not created equal.  Strangely enough, most people are not even aware of the best cereals, like steel cut oats.  Processed foods that can set on the shelf for years without infestation are the ones you see on TV.  Bugs know what is good for them—-sadly, most people do not.

If you want to learn how to prepare tasty nutritious foods, on May 5, at 6 pm I will be leading a food preparation class at Bound by Nature in Heber Springs.  There will be no charge but space is limited.  Call 501-362-6111 to reserve your spot.

(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at janicenorris34@yahoo.com)