“Are Froot Loops Good for You?” asked my daughter, after telling me that the recent batch of nut milk I had just made, and which she had just consumed with her Multi Grain Cheerios, was just the way she likes it. I told her that I am glad that she liked it and that I need that kind of feedback in the kitchen, and that it was straight cashew milk, which, by the way, is the most effortless nut milk to make, because it requires no straining. Win-win.
It seemed like a random question, because, to my knowledge, I don’t think she’s ever eaten Froot Loops. I suspect she saw a meme about it on YouTube, probably something proselytizing how we should demonize processed food, or someone joking about someone proselytizing how we should demonize processed food, which would be more her style, and mine, too.
Anyway, I suggested that “Are Froot Loops Good for You?” is the wrong question. It depends, I said. “What is one seeking when one eats Froot Loops?” I posit. Does eating Froot Loops bring you joy? Do you find them pretty, bobbing up and down in the milk? Is it the only thing you can afford? Are Froot Loops a delicious late night snack straight out of the box or on your kid’s snack plate? Is it the only thing that you can get into the mouth of a picky eater? Who are we to say what is good, even if the joy is temporary, even if it isn’t what we do?
Are Froot Loops nutritious? Kellogg’s website says that “Kellogg’s Froot Loops™ is packed with delicious fruity taste, fruity aroma, and bright colors. Made with whole grains and lightly sweetened, Froot Loops is a fun part of a complete breakfast, and is a good source of fiber.” Sounds like a happy and productive party to me. Its smart label nutrition facts reveal that all vitamins and minerals, except calcium, are included in Froot Loops; it is probably assumed that calcium will come from milk. So it offers nutritional value in the form of vitamin and mineral fortification, as is virtually all industrialized commercial cereal. So, yes, it is nutritious, especially if it’s the only thing or what little you have to eat. Are there better choices? Maybe, probably, but this also depends, especially on circumstances, awareness, and access. So we are still not here to tell someone what is “good” for him or her, because defining “good” for any one person or group can be arbitrary, and, I feel, a waste of time and none of my business.
Personally, the idea of consuming a bowl of Froot Loops makes me think of Clark Griswold’s crunch enhancer (“Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas … kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.”), a “non-nutritive cereal varnish. It’s semi-permiable. It’s not osmotic … it coats and seals the flake, prevents the milk from penetrating it,” and I am not at all enticed, although trying the crunch enhancer for sledding could be fun.
I cannot remember the last time I ate Froot Loops, but I am certain that there was a point in my life when I loved it and couldn’t wait to try it. When I was a kid and would spend the night at a friend’s house, I usually looked forward to the “junk” cereal that I knew would be lurking in her cupboard, because at home we only ate regular Cheerios. The same went for soap operas and hard rock: Not Allowed. No Count Chocula, no Days of Our Lives, no AC/DC. Junk. You know this story, because you have one, too.
We all know, of course, where this leads; as a parent, you’ve opened Pandora’s Box. One day, you will find your kid (or maybe grown child or husband) in front of a 65-inch QLed TV watching As the World Turns, eating bowl after bowl of Lucky Charms as Metallica blares in the background or maybe his headphones. It’s the road to hell — the Highway to Hell. You’ve lost all control, but then again, you never had any. (Insert LOL here.)
So are Froot Loops good for you? Well, I can’t answer that for anyone. I just think that if you are feeling down, or if you have a fond memory of something, or if it’s on your bucket list and you’re just gonna go for it, and it’s a bowl of Froot Loops that brings that little spark of joy — even if temporary — then hell yes, eat it. I just say once in a while, in moderation, basically like everything else. But it all comes back to what is “good.” What do you value? What can you afford? What brings you joy? Life would change for many people if we didn’t have to abide by the fast-paced way of life we live in America. Breakfast might look a lot different if we all weren’t in a hurry to go nowhere fast. So Froot Loops it might be, and so be it.
But anyway, this led to an amazing and lengthy conversation about food, nutrition, what brings you joy in food and eating, and why I choose the foods I do and why I put it on her plate. I offer her various ways of enjoying food and exploring food, all the while navigating the depth of flavor, breadth of nutrition, and abundance of colors in all of their forms. And I remind her that her feedback is key, because one hopes, in a perfect world, that no one goes hungry, and that one eats delicious food and it brings him or her joy, especially since we really have no say in the matter as we are slave to food as human animals, so hopefully we can eat well and good and joyfully. Abundance for all.
This all stemming from my daughter letting me know that the [cashew] milk she had that morning was made her favorite way. No residue from walnuts and no pulp from pecans. Just smooth, creamy, slightly sweet cashew milk with her bowl of Multi Grain Cheerios (also slightly sweet and quite delicious) and a banana.
I love that girl. She’s so smart and interesting. And it is a joy to make her food and feed her, and to consider her young world view.
PS – She loves AC/DC. #thunderstruck
I have been making (or consuming) nut milks for a very long time. I was a vegetarian for twenty-five years, and so I drank dairy milk alternatives. Although I am no longer a vegetarian and do buy Hilhof’s (Michigan farmer! Returnable glass jar!) fresh milk for my yogurt and cream for my occasional café con leche, I continue to make nut milks, because they are delicious, they are easy to make in many varieties, and I it reduces my eco footprint as I rarely buy milk in any form in a carton or plastic, and, therefore, no longer have to question whether it goes into the trash or into recycling.
Cashews are actually a tree seed, of the cashew fruit specifically. The cashew is a good source of protein and carbohydrates and copper, as well as phosphorous, magnesium, manganese and zinc. High in fat, they are great for fitness and satiety.
For the record, I can buy good, fresh, raw cashews in bulk for $9.99 – $12.99 per pound where I live. I realize that some would find this expensive, but I choose quality over quantity here; it is an overall better value for me. Although I can buy a half gallon of mass-produced nut milk or soy milk (or rice milk and so on) for under $4, I have the container to deal with, and they simply do not taste nearly as good as fresh nut milk. One pound of cashews will yield about four quarts or more of cashew milk, and I use it for a variety of recipes. If you can find cashews that are in “pieces,” fill your bag with those as you will get just a little bit more for your money than whole cashews. Plus it reduces soaking time if in a hurry.
Cashew milk is excellent and very satisfying.
To make Cashew Milk:
- Turn on AC/DC and perhaps Bold and the Beautiful, then …
- Soak 1 cup raw cashews in water for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- After soaking, rinse the cashews well and put them into a high speed blender that can hold at least 2 quarts of liquid.
- Into the blender with the cashews add 4 cups of water. Blend away.
- Turn off blender and taste the nut milk. Add kosher salt or sea salt accordingly, because it brings out the flavor of the cashews. (If you have to use table salt, make it a dash of a dash of a dash and keep tasting.) Also add sweetener, if any, as you like it. I use honey, but the family really seems to like my cashew milk with maple syrup. If you have dates or figs or something like that, I’m sure it would be delicious in your milk. Just make sure that you have soaked them and plumped them up before blending.
- Blend again. Taste one more time to see what you think. I never strain my cashew milk, because the bloated cashews blend very smoothly. If it is too thick, adjust water accordingly. It’s best served cold. Drink up.
- Be creative.
PPS – Walnuts and pecans or just about any other nut is also delicious as nut milk. Personally, I adore pecans and, thus, its milk. I also like to blend pecans, cashews, and walnuts, but this can leave a lot of pulp, so I just strain it through a nut milk bag, several layers of towel or cheesecloth, or a fine mesh sieve. It will be amazing any which way.