This Thursday, I’m thinking out loud about a topic near and dear to many hearts (and tummies). That, my friends, is cereal, the crispy, crunchy snack of kids, adults, runners, couch potatoes, and everyone in between. Including me, as evidenced in my WIAWs of late! Cereal may seem pretty innocuous, but sometimes the most disorienting experiences happen with the most familiar things.
There’s a cereal aisle in every grocery store in America. Whether it’s a generic chain or a small-town market, a Stop n’ Shop or the mom-and-pop shop on the corner, it’s a permanent fixture. You loved it as a kid – the rows of brightly colored boxes, packaging designed to appeal to the children squirming in the basket seats of shopping carts or alternately running ahead of and slowing down their parents, trying Mom or Dad’s patience. You eat the bounty of its boxes in a bowl with milk poured over the particles for breakfast in the morning, or swirled into yogurt. Some people have the same brand every day, others like to mix and match.
When you’re standing there alone, it’s one of the most comforting places in the world. If you stand very still, tune out the rumbling of voices and sounds spanning the store, you begin to hear the sounds of childhood. Snap, crackle, pop. A taste you can see. It’s grrrr-eat! When there’s even the slightest bit of change to the array of familiar packaging, perhaps a new variety of an old favorite, one made with whole grains or with dried fruit mixed it, it’s always jarring to your senses. But when you’re standing in a cereal aisle and don’t recognize any of the boxes, it’s totally disorienting. Everything looks familiar, but is just slightly off, as if the world had been tilted a few degrees sideways and you’re still standing straight.
I have had this experience twice. The first time was my inaugural trip to a Sainsbury’s while at Oxford. The Brits love their Weetabix and their Crunchy Nut (seriously, I think that wit has something to do with the innumerable puns you can make out of British cereal names). They have some American standbys like Rice Krispies and Cheerios, but the recipes are different. I ended up sampling many of the finest British cereals because of my lack of access to a proper kitchen in my first year, though none ever quite measured up to my childhood favorite Rice Krispies. This led very quickly to my wheat allergy diagnosis. I hadn’t been eating much in the few years before I entered college, especially because I had considered bread a ‘bad’ food, and the sudden dependence on cereal led to a balloon in the symptoms I had always experienced but never been able to trace to their source (lovely things like itchy rashes, constant headaches and fatigue, and stomach swelling).
Hence my second round of cereal confusion, that of the newly wheat-free girl wondering what in the world she can snack on. The only thing more overwhelming than an unfamiliar array of cereal is recognizing the boxes and realizing that the familiar is now off-limits. A bowl of cereal is usually as easy as ABC, but now I was adding GF to that equation! Luckily, Rice and Corn Chex are gluten-free. I was pleased to find that one of my other childhood favorites, Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, were safe to consume. Not all of my morning munchies and running snacks would be gone.
The toughest part was my beloved Rice Krispies. I like some of the other brands, like Barbara’s Brown Rice Crisps, and it’s great that Kellogg’s came out with a gluten-free version too. But they aren’t quite the same! So I was happy to discover a generic version of Crispix, another old favorite, that are gluten-free. Unlike Kellogg’s, Stop & Shop doesn’t feel the need to include barley malt in its cereal. Don’t get me wrong, Rice Krispies will forever have my heart, and my taste buds when it comes to treats like my Confetti Crispie Clouds, but the fact that there is no corresponding gluten-free version for my second-place Crispix has been a bummer. Enter Crispers – just as crunchy and delicious, perfect for when I want to snack on a bite-size cereal or need something crispy in my yogurt. I know cereal isn’t technically the healthiest thing for you, but sometimes, a gluten-free girl’s gotta have her crunchy munchies!
What’s your favorite cereal? Do you eat it straight from the box, swirled into snacks, or baked into treats?
© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.
Disclosure: I purchased all products myself. No financial compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.