I’ve always been a picky eater. When I was a kid, my favorite substitute for food I didn’t like was cereal. “Mom’s making halibut for dinner? No, thanks, I’ll just get myself a bowl of cereal.” As an adult, I eat a variety of healthy foods, but I still love my sugary cereals (mostly as a late-night snack rather than a breakfast). According to an article in the New York Times last year, cereal enjoyed popularity among baby boomers and Generation X, but started losing its appeal in the 1990s. Millennials seem to prefer healthier options like oatmeal, yogurt, and smoothies.
As a parent, I try to limit my kids’ sugar intake. But sadly, I passed the picky-eater gene on to my oldest son. Determined not to pass on my addiction to cereal, I decided to give oatmeal a place at our breakfast table. There was just one problem: no one in my family liked oatmeal! So I came up with a plan…
One Saturday morning, I made a big pot of oatmeal, and put the following ingredients on the table:
- dried cranberries
- brown sugar
- maple syrup
- peanut butter
I gave everyone a bowl of oatmeal and told them to add whatever they wanted. And guess what? We all loved it! My favorite combination is brown sugar, cinnamon, and dried cranberries. My oldest son likes maple syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon. (Yes, it’s a little heavy on the sweeteners, but I’m ok with that. I think a teaspoon of maple syrup is better than the corn syrup in many cereals.) My little guy puts honey and raisins in his oatmeal. We eat oatmeal for breakfast at least twice a week, and my oldest sometimes asks for it for lunch or a snack.
The possibilities for oatmeal mix-ins are endless! Fruit and dried fruit are probably the most popular, but some people use nuts and seeds as well. When we’re traveling, I let the kids add chocolate chips as a special treat from the hotel breakfast buffet. What are your favorite oatmeal mix-ins? Share your creative combinations in the comments.