I am addicted to cereal. There, I said it.
It started very early on when every night before bed my brothers and I would have a “midnight snack.” This was always cereal.
Growing up we had a limit on how much sugar could be in our cereal — anything less than 10 grams per serving was fair game.
This excluded some of the most heinous varieties — your Fruit Loops, your Trix, your Lucky Charms — cereal with absolutely no nutritional value. Essentially just bowls of sugar.
But a surprising variety of amazingly delicious cereals still fit under the 10 gram mark. Some of our favorites included Rice Krispie Treats Cereal, Peanut Butter Puffs, and Frosted Mini Wheats.
As I have gone through young adulthood I have found this conditioning to be pretty ingrained. When I was first on my own, I learned pretty quickly that if I had food in the house I would eat it.
Sounds super simple.
But you can’t eat what you don’t have in the house. And for me, my early lesson was this: you can’t have potato chips in the house. You will eat them first and you will eat them exclusively, until they are gone.
Cereal was a different story. I largely was ok with this habit. And as I worked to improve my diet in other ways (going vegetarian, then more vegan, then fully vegan), the cereal sorta just hung around.
I once remarked to my roommate that if cereal was the one vice left in my diet then I was probably doing alright.
I will admit over the years I’ve ditched the Rice Krispie Treats and opted for Kashi whole grain cereals or granola with almond or soy milk. Doesn’t sound all that bad. As far as vices go, this one is pretty tame.
But it’s still not healthy. It’s still not whole food plant-based, even if it is vegan.
The other thing it isn’t is cheap. I have recently become more interested in how cheap I can eat plant-based. Kind of a challenge to myself. I am not doing anything extreme like $1.50 a day or anything, just trying to keep my total food budget under $200 for the month.
Right away I noticed that at $4-$5 a box and $3.29 a half gallon, cereal and almond milk was actually kind of expensive.
As I walked around the store calculating what was left in my budget, it felt silly to drop nearly $9 on this indulgence. I could get so many bananas for $9!
And here’s how cereal fits into my diet: dessert.
When it is in the house, it’s not my breakfast (that’s oatmeal every single day, on autopilot). It’s not a snack, which is usually fruit. It is always my dessert.
With that in mind I have worked on trying to find cheap AND healthy dessert options, and I have three to share with you right now!
This is somewhat like cereal, and is super duper healthy. Here is the recipe:
~1 Cup of frozen berries, I usually do blueberries and raspberries
~1 Cup of almond milk (or soy or whatever plant-based milk you like)
1 TBSP of ground flax seed
~1/3 Cup of rolled oats
Just a dash of maple syrup
Combine in a bowl and mix up a bit, allowing the frozen berries to thaw just a tad. Boom. Super delicious super healthy dessert.
Oat Groats Yo
In a quest to find cheaper whole grains, I stumbled upon Organic Oat Groats at just $1.49/lb! So cheap! Oat Groats are steel cut oats that haven’t been chopped up yet. So, they are whole oats essentially, but they cook up more like rice almost, and still retain that nice sweetness of oats. Packed with fiber, oats are some of the world’s healthiest whole grains.
1 Cup Oat Groats and 3 Cups water — boil water, add groats, reduce to simmer, cook til water evaporates out
Once the groats are cooked up, you can store them in the fridge for a couple days.
I combine ~1/2 Cup of the cooked groats with some fruit, flax seed, and sometimes a splash of almond milk. My go-to has been bananas and frozen mangos. So good, and really nice warm dessert.
Banana Nice Cream
I’ve heard of this dessert for so long and was always super intimidated to make it. Honestly I didn’t think my blender was strong enough. Well I made it tonight and only used my lowest setting, so I guess that’s not an issue! And my goodness it was delicious. Here is the recipe. Get ready for it, because it’s super complicated.
2 Frozen Bananas
That’s it. Ok just blend them until they get all chopped up, smashed up, creamy. I added a splash of almond milk but probably didn’t even need it. It turns into ice cream! It’s ridiculous. I added just a few dark chocolate pieces and it was heavenly. Would also be great with shredded coconut or other fruits mixed in. If you Google Banana Nice Cream recipes there are actually a ton out there! I am so glad I tried this — I can guarantee my freezer will never be without a couple frozen bananas again!
So there you have it. Three super delicious incredibly healthy desserts that are insanely cheap — seriously they cost pennies — and can replace cereal cravings for even the worst addict like me!
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