Have you heard the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? Where did you hear it? Do you believe it? Why? Perhaps because your mother told you, who was doubtless quoting the words of highly-qualified, impartial nutritionists who publicized their findings after rigorous research?
Earlier this month The Atlantic posted an article titled Why Cereal Has Such Aggressive Marketing that shed some light on where this “conventional wisdom” originated. The article is long and entertaining, but key points include:
The concept of breakfast as “the most important meal of the day” can be traced to a 1944 marketing campaign launched by General Foods, the manufacturer of Grape Nuts, to sell more cereal.
Cereal is a product launched in the 1890s by John Harvey Kellogg, a deeply religious doctor who believed that cereal would both improve Americans’ health and lower their sex drive (both positive outcomes, in his mind). Cereal’s origins lie in sanitariums run in the mid-to-late 1800s. It was not sweet, and critics called it “wheat rocks.”
Before the invention of cereal, breakfast was not as standard or routine as it is now, and what was considered breakfast food varied widely: eggs, pastries, and pancakes, yes… but also oysters, “boiled chickens”, and steak.
By the 1940s, cereal was coated with sugar but retained its popularity and perception as a health food thanks to a barrage of advertising. Why is the marketing supporting cereal and other processed breakfast food so fierce?
Studies show that breakfast choices are likely more habitual because of the strength of morning routines and brand loyalty is strong in the breakfast foods category, so once a consumer is won, they’re likely to purchase long-term.
While some Americans cook breakfast (more on this below), “people’s desire for a fast, convenient meal means that many breakfast foods are packaged products that rely on advertising”.
There is room for profits to grow since breakfast is the most skipped meal in America, which means money on the table for the food industry.
I’m trying not to jump to conclusions, but all this seems to add up to the fact that perhaps cereal has become wildly successful due to two key ingredients: sugar and advertising.
Anyway, the article inspired me to develop a new breakfast alternative. This isn’t the first n’oatmeal recipe on my site (hello, Blueberry Baked N’Oatmeal, Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll N’Oatmeal, and the original N’Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl) but this is by far the closest to actual oatmeal in color and texture. Not so much in taste, although if you blended banana and coconut cream into your oatmeal you’d have a very close approximation. Because oatmeal itself doesn’t taste like much, would you agree? If you’re after a little added sweetness and crunch, add some toasted coconut flakes and drizzle local honey on top.
Using a hand mixer, whip the ingredients (except for the toasted coconut flakes, honey, flowers, and additional banana slices for garnish) until the banana and sweet potato are fully incorporated into the coconut cream and shredded coconut.
Spoon into serving bowls, top with the toasted coconut flakes, honey, flowers, and additional banana. Serve immediately.
I used Trader Joe’s coconut cream, chilled, which is solid rather than liquid. If you use the liquid cream from the top of a can of coconut milk, for example, you’ll need to add more coconut to balance it, and the result will be less sweet.
I used actual white sweet potato, roasted and then peeled, versus canned sweet potato purée. Canned purée would likely work, but will be looser and wetter than firm, starchy, fresh-roasted white sweet potato, and canned purée will darken the color of your n’oatmeal.