As part of my new, improved health regime, I am eating oatmeal every morning. With fresh fruit.
I used to eat Alpha-Bits, Honey Smacks and Reese's Puffs for breakfast at about 4 p.m., or possibly at 2 a.m. before going to bed.
Then I married a self-styled nutritionist and my lifestyle was, uh, corrected.
It turns out that it is better for someone of my age and girth to eat breakfast in the morning. And the menu should consist of a meal grated from rolled oats that are as unprocessed as possible.
If the oatmeal crunches, it's exactly the nutrition my improving, corrected body craves, according to she who claims to love me.
I drown the stuff in as much brown sugar as I can pile on when her back is turned. She hates it when I thwart her efforts to improve my lifestyle.
But then she does a curious thing: Terry pours part of her morning coffee into her oatmeal.
"Most of us of the human race pour milk over our breakfast cereal," I said.
"There's milk in my coffee," she retorted. "It's more efficient this way. I get my milk and coffee all at once."
Sorta. It's not milk. It's soy.
Turns out that self-styled nutritionists also have a thing against good, old-fashioned cow's milk, the very stuff I tugged twice daily straight from the source growing up on the farm.
Even at breakfast, she's trying to foist more vegetables onto my plate. Or bowl.
Nutritionists claim that oatmeal is a superfood, one that I either superignore or superdilute by squashing all the goodness right out of it with milk and brown sugar. But it sure adds taste.
Nutritionists claim that oatmeal will lower cholesterol, reduce risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, promote weight loss, win the Indy 500, discover new solar systems and cause world peace. Or something like that. It's all mush to me.
I've been doing a bit of research of my own since I no longer have the back of the Apple Jacks box to read and found out a couple things that can poke the goodness right out of the life-reforming theories.
Consider porridge. It's made by boiling oatmeal, and sometimes another cereal such as rice, wheat, barley or corn, in water or milk. Basically, it's oatmeal.
But if you recall your history lessons, porridge is the very thing that tempted Goldilocks into a life of crime burglary, food theft, destruction of property and unmade beds. Bears have preyed upon us ever since, raiding campsites, city garbage cans and sometimes even eating people for breakfast. Or so I suspect.
I also found that some guy who bills himself as "Mr. Breakfast" lists the top 10 ways to make oatmeal instantly more exciting. Coffee is not mentioned once.
BUT, he has a better idea about which cereals to mix with your porridge: "Crush a little handful of your favorite dry breakfast cereal onto your oatmeal. Cap'n Crunch oatmeal anyone?"
How about for something more efficient, let's go straight for the Cap'n Crunch. The sugar rush will give you the burst of energy you need to outrun angry bears. Or nutritionists with another bowl of soy-laced oatmeal.
--- Cole is a grumpy bear himself when he has to get up before noon for oatmeal. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org