Fake Fruit Food

A few months ago I wrote about the “high margin-to-cost” breakfast cereal business. I have a few more thoughts, this time not specifically about the product itself, but about the pervasive use of fruity words in the naming of those breakfast cereals. Continue reading


Breakfast Candy

Let’s talk about breakfast cereals, shall we? Developed by a couple of enterprising health spa owners from Battle Creek, Michigan, they originally provided an economical use for the crumbs that fell to the bottom of the bread ovens. The word “cereal,” which simply means grain, comes from Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. Breakfast cereal? That’s a marketing term. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Apple-Walnut Oatmeal

In view of the fact that I’ve been asked yet again to repost this recipe, and since it’s autumn (the most glorious autumn I can remember in at least a few years) I am reposting this recipe for Apple-Walnut Oatmeal. You will be pleased to note that I adjusted the proportions so you can make enough for two. Continue reading


Breakfasts for Kids and Their Loving Parents

I was talking with a dear friend who teaches in the younger grades at a small school north of Detroit. “The kids are bouncing off the walls by 9:30,” my friend says, and I think to myself that maybe their blood sugars are starting to fall. Nine-thirty in the morning is pretty early. He says that a snack often helps. Yup — it very well may be their blood sugars. Continue reading


The Real Meaning of “Breakfast Cereal”

Let’s talk about something I said a few weeks ago: It started with the term “breakfast cereal.” I put it in quotes for reasons that I’ll get to below. I also made the point that the term “breakfast cereal” reminds me of phrases like “TV dinners,” and “Lunchables,” whatever that means. Whenever marketers tell me what to eat and when to eat it, that’s a very bad sign. Actually it’s more of a clue. And that’s the subject of today’s post. Continue reading


On Plums, Poetry, Public Transit, and William Carlos Williams

If you look up as you walk through the back door into my kitchen, you might be surprised to see an orange poster with a Swedish translation of a poem written in 1934 by the great poet William Carlos Williams. Dr. Williams was also a pediatrician from Rutherford, New Jersey. Since this month is National Poetry Month, I thought I would share how this poem ended up in my kitchen.  Here it is in the original:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

 

One morning, as I was moving around the kitchen trying to decide what we should eat for breakfast, I was reminded of a poem that I had written out and hung on my bedroom door many years earlier, as an adolescent. “This is just to say,” I began to recite aloud, and my three young children stood riveted as I spoke the poem from memory. “That’s not a poem,” they protested. “You made that up!”

I picked up my cell phone to call my brother. “Forgive me for waking you,” I said, “but I need a favor.” Their dark, round eyes grew big as plums while he completed the prompt I supplied.

The children saved their delicious new discovery to share with their father over breakfast.  Now we all knew the poem.

Some years later, their sweet father, in Sweden on a layover, took the opportunity to visit friends spending a cold and lonely winter in Stockholm. In their kitchen, a brightly colored poster leaned against the icebox, a remnant from a citywide poetry festival the previous fall. Poems had been placed in public transit throughout the city, and riders had been encouraged to take them home once the celebration had ended. “What does it say?” asked my inquisitive husband, and our friends began to translate, “This is just to say…”

I cannot say exactly why, but I have loved this poem since the first time I read it as a child. I did not know until years later that its author was a doctor from New Jersey. I did not know that someday I would place great personal and professional importance on fresh fruit, or that my grandfather’s preferred choice of the word “icebox” would stay with me all my life. Some things just are.


I Drink 2 Pots of Coffee and I Don’t Do Breakfast

Originally posted 12/12/2010

When I was home for Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago, I got to spend time not only with my family, but also with some old friends I hadn’t seen for a long time.  This week’s mail brought some interesting questions from one of those old friends, who gave me permission to share them with you.

Dan wrote that he does not normally eat breakfast.  He’s not that hungry early in the morning.  He does, however, drink copious amounts of coffee.  He described himself as “very overweight,” and said that he’s considering going on a “very low carb diet” to drop the weight.  I asked exactly how much coffee he’s talking about, and he said close to 2 pots of coffee a day (7-8 mugs).  He adds only half-and-half.  No sweeteners.

Here’s what I say about skipping breakfast: Our bodies need a certain amount of energy to get through the day.  If we have not eaten that amount of energy (calories) by the time we get up from the dinner table, we will eat the rest AFTER dinner.  By and large, calories eaten after dinner are snacks, so they are not as nutritious as meals.  Also, the later you eat them, the less likely it is that they will be completely digested by the time you go to bed.  And then you aren’t hungry when you wake up.  So you skip breakfast.  Vicious cycle.

The way to put an end to this is to eat protein in the morning.  It sends a message to your body to turn on your daytime metabolism.  It doesn’t have to be King Henry VIII’s breakfast.  Just a cheese stick.  A hard-boiled egg, a leftover hamburger.  No time?  Eat a handful of nuts in the car on the way to work.

Now the coffee.  Dan said each 12-cup pot of coffee makes 4 mugs of coffee, and that he doesn’t quite finish the second pot.  So figure each mug is around 2 1/2 cups.  I have a couple of mugs that big around here.  American-sized.  One tablespoon of cream?  Yeh, right!   Let’s assume Dan puts 4 tablespoons of half-and-half in each mug of coffee.  If each tablespoon contains 2 1/2 grams of fat and 25 calories, Dan is drinking 700 calories of half-and-half every day.  Even though the fat is more nutritious than you might think, there’s no two ways about it: that’s a lot of food.  I’m guessing he eats at least a couple of meals, plus snacks, in addition.

One thing he could do would be to put cream in just the first cup or two of the morning, and drink it black for the rest of the day.  And remember to have a high-protein breakfast.   Or he could admit that he’s drinking one-and-a-half to two meals worth of calories a day, and factor that into what he chooses for lunch.  Celery?

Now to answer the very-low-carb diet question.  Do I recommend it?  No, I don’t.  At least not yet.  I don’t believe in sudden change.  I say he should take a careful look at the rest of his diet, and figure out the single largest source of processed carbohydrate – be it white flour, chips, high fructose corn syrup, or sugar.

His pants will get loose pretty fast once he identifies and decreases the amount of processed carbohydrate in his diet.  He doesn’t need to do it all at once.  He can pick one problem at a time, and see what happens.  Two or three months of eating peppers and cucumbers with lunch, instead of chips, would be a great start.  If he becomes a breakfast eater, a nutritious, high-protein breakfast instead of Frosty Crunchos would be a very good idea.  The best answer depends on the the biggest problem.  Soda/pop every afternoon?  Donuts?  The drive-thru for a sausage-on-the-go-go every morning?  Everybody has different issues.  At least we know Dan’s not ordering the extra-large sweet latte made with non-dairy whitener.

Next week (posted 12/19/2010) , we’ll be talking about another set of questions from Emily, who’s working on following Weight Watchers and my “Four Recommendations” at the same time.