Loving the BITE: Cyclists’ Great (Non) Cereal Challenge

 

Many, many cyclists begin their day with a bowl of cereal.  This can be a good thing, a nutritionally neutral thing, or a downright bad thing.  Sure, a picky consumer can find a cereal that actually provides health, wellness, and energy benefits.  But by default, most cereals leave much to be desired, and some are no better than a candy bar for breakfast.  Here’s my non-cereal cereal option, my reasons for a non-cereal recipe, and comparison challenge for a few cereals on the shelves.

Recipe of the Week:  Kelli’s Hemp Chia Berry Non-Cereal

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp organic coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup berries or other fruit, frozen or fresh
  • 3 Tbsp Hemp Hearts (hulled hemp seeds)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • dash of ground cinnamon, optional

Instructions:

Melt the coconut oil, and, if needed thaw the berries quickly in the microwave or stovetop.  Frozen berries work well because they will provide some juice to keep the hemp/chia seeds from getting too dry.

Sprinkle in hemp, chia, and cinnamon.

If using fresh fruit, and seems to dry, decrease hemp to 2 Tbsp and all in 1/4 cup (dollop) Greek yogurt, non-dairy yogurt, or any type milk.

Comments:chiahempnoncereal

By definition, a cereal contains grains.  My non-cereal does not, as it’s a mix of seeds and fruit.  The reason? It’s not that I think all grains are horrible for you (although you may have noticed that I often replace grains with nuts, vegetables, etc.).  In fact, some completely intact grains, like whole oats and rice, can certainly have nutrition benefits and make up part of a very, very healthy diet.

However, grains that are broken down simply can’t compete with many other whole foods nutritionally.  They can be inflammatory in the body for those that don’t digest them well (gluten intolerance, for example).  And, they certainly add carbohydrates to the diet which often causes a need for too much insulin, promotion of extra fat storage and sometimes insulin resistance.   But the real reason I reduce them in diets, is simply there’s not enough room for them.  When compared to seeds, nuts, vegetables like squash or yams, broken down grains (yes, even broken down whole grains) simply don’t measure up.

For example, hemp seeds contain 10 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, and several grams of plant based omega-3s per 3 Tablespoons.  Chia seeds, depending on the variety, contain 6-8 grams protein, 10-12 grams fiber, and 5 grams plant-based omega-3s per 2 Tablespoons.  I don’t know of a grain that can compete.

Of course, with these serving amounts, you also get a lot more calories than you would with the same serving of grains, but calorie for calorie, hemp and chia are examples of foods simply superior nutritionally.  And, if you add more calories of grains for comparison, you’d end up with an out-of-balance too-high amount of carbohydrates.  Generally, I am much more interested in getting the protein, healthy fats, and fiber needed, while moderating carbohydrates than I am in restricting calories.

This approach of moderating useless carbs generally promotes fat loss,  reduced inflammation, hormone balance, reduced muscle loss, and steady energy compared to the all-you-can-eat carb approach.  So, where do you think your cereal stacks up?  Here’s 4 cereals plus my Hemp Chia non-cereal, from worst to best (yes, I’m biased), and my comments on each:

Fruit Loops and the like:

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