I was in 4th grade the first time I had Fiber One cereal. A combination of persistent ankle problems and my slightly round (but still completely adorable) figure led my pediatrician to suggest that I see a nutritionist to help me shed some pounds during my formative years. What came as confidence-shattering, grossly humiliating news at the time is now one of the greatest gifts a medical professional has ever given to me (besides those care packages you get at the end of a teeth cleaning), because it led me into the warm, everloving embrace of Fiber One.
The meal plan that my nutritionist carved out for me was simple. It started with a bowl of this cereal (the original variety), which packs an impressive 14 grams of fiber in just one half-cup serving, first thing in the morning. My parents were not the type to let me have a breakfast cereal loaded with cookies and marshmallows and chocolate chunks, so getting in the routine of eating Fiber One for breakfast was not all that traumatizing. In fact, I slowly grew to enjoy the crunchy texture, the starchy bran flavor, and the faint hint of sweetness that it left behind in my milk. On some days, I’d mix in fresh fruit, or skip the milk and opt for a bowl of yogurt instead. Either way, it didn’t matter—Fiber One became an absolute necessity for my morning regimen at the ripe age of 10 years old.
Incorporating Fiber One into my daily diet was not only painless, but enjoyable for a younger me from a culinary standpoint, dealing with the embarrassment and humiliation that came with my newfound breakfast obsession was an entirely different story. Even though I was able to have it in the privacy of my home kitchen before school where none of my classmates would have to watch me eat it, there were still some occasions that my deep, dark, fibrous secret was almost spilled to the masses (the horror!). “Fiber One?!? Ewwww… doesn’t that make you, you know, uhhh…” Talking about bowels as an adult is awkward enough—you can only imagine how uncomfortable it was in an elementary school cafeteria. I, the young intellectual that I was, was ahead of the times and my peers. Nobody else understood the beauty of Fiber One.
If friends came over and saw it in the pantry, I would casually brush it off as some ungodly cereal that my parents ate in their cottage cheese (sorry, Dad). If I slept over a friend’s house and their mom asked what I’d like for breakfast, I’d stumble over my words trying to conjure up an answer that didn’t sound like I belonged in a retirement home. When I worked up the courage to pack it in a Ziploc bag for an on-the-go yogurt topping (to be eaten in public—the audacity), I remember having to tell people that no, in fact, I was not eating hamster food.
What entered my life as an unwanted suggestion from a nutritionist, who I was ashamed to admit I was seeing, slowly became a food I truly loved. And let’s just say that this cereal loved me right back, because I lost 15 pounds that summer and felt leaner, lighter, and more regular (sorry, I had to) than ever before. It’s for this reason that I’ll always be willing to go to bat for a product that no one wants to own up to enjoying. Hid in a grocery store aisle loaded with false advertisements and empty promises, Fiber One delivers on what it sets out to do.
As time went on and I maintained my weight loss and lifestyle/dietary changes, I began to slowly wean myself off the rigid, borderline-obsessive Fiber One consumption habits I had formed in my youth. To this day, I keep a box in the pantry* for when I feel like I need a hearty jumpstart to my day or I’m just plain missing the sweet, grain cereal. There is something truly empowering about knowing that you’ve already consumed over half of your daily fiber needs in a few heaping spoonfuls, all before 8 a.m.
Needless to say, throughout the years of my hardcore, Fiber One-loving days, I have tried it all with this cereal—the bran muffin recipe on the back of the box, the oven-baked breaded chicken nuggets, and the crispy salad topper ideas. One fiber masterpiece that I had yet to conquer was a fiber-crusted pie shell, and that is precisely the motivation for this strawberry yogurt cream pie. With a fruity, rich filling, this breakfast-inspired treat is everything I want in a (somewhat) guilt-free dessert. It’s ultra-satisfying with just the right amount of sweetness, without sending you over the edge. Plus, it’s appearance is completely unassuming, so all those ignorant, cafeteria trolls slurping on that Hate-orade don’t need to know about the secret crust ingredient—although, they’re sure to figure it out later.
*Now that I am an adult who shops for her own groceries, I will admit that it still traumatizes me to purchase this at the grocery store. I have no problem telling those that I know how much I adore this cereal, however I can’t bear the thought that strangers could know this about me, too. When the cashier is ringing me up, I avoid eye contact at all costs. This is something from my childhood that I am still working through, and I appreciate your patience and support in the meantime.
This story originally appeared on Myrecipes.com.