MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Featuring star-studded New York City chefs, cereal-inspired culinary creations, cereal-themed pop art installations and a sweepstakes to get consumers thinking outside the (cereal) box, National Cereal Lovers Week kicks off today, celebrating cereal and the crunching, slurping fans who love it. The inaugural celebration of all things cereal is being championed by celebrity chef Justin Warner and " Hello, Cereal Lovers," an online community of more than 430,000 who have unleashed America's passion for the breakfast staple.
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"I've loved cereal since before I had teeth, and as a chef, I'm always looking for inspiration and mixing unexpected ingredients to create knockout new flavor combinations," said Warner, winner of Food Network's "Food Network Star" and owner/chef at Brooklyn's Do or Dine. "Incorporating cereal into things like carbonara pasta or even a cocktail just makes sense to me. Cereal is awesome in a bowl with milk or as a snack, and delivers all kinds of tastes and textures to play a starring role in any dish."Cereal lovers everywhere can raise a spoon to their favorite O, flake, puff or square through a variety of fun National Cereal Lovers Week activities October 14-20. "Cereal is one of America's favorite foods and people express their love for it in amazing ways – from using a go-to bowl and spoon, to how they like to dunk those little Os, to sharing 'selfies' with their favorite cereals or cereal-inspired crafts," said Carla Vernon, director of marketing for Hello, Cereal Lovers. "On top of that, cereal is a lot healthier than most people think. So what's not to love?" Recipes Go Outside the BowlTo celebrate National Cereal Lovers Week, Warner created unique cereal-centric recipes such as Cocoa Puffs® Carbonara and Fizzy Trix®. Joining in the fun are award-winning New York-based chefs Amanda Freitag, Elizabeth Falkner, Nate Appleman, Dale Talde, Harold Dieterle and the hosts of ABC's "The Chew," who are showing their love by sharing their favorite cereal-based concoctions like Cinnamon Toast Crunch® French Toast, Golden Grahams® "Fried" Chicken with Hot Honey Drizzle and Corn Chex® Chilaquiles. Recipes and videos from these well-respected chefs are available to inspire foodie fans to play with their food, literally, and fans across the country can tune in to see some of these creations brought to life on "The Chew" on October 15. Passionate cereal aficionados can also enter the "Battle Outside the Bowl" sweepstakes via SeriousEats.com for a chance to win* the ultimate Cereal Lovers' prize – an entire mixed case of their favorite cereals – as well as $1,000 for cooking essentials. From the Pantry to Pop CultureTo trumpet the movement, the campaign also includes a special "cereal pop art" exhibit to be featured at the upcoming Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE. On display at the Global Night Market at The Plaza Food Hall hosted by Todd English featuring Hot Bread Kitchen on Oct. 19 will be cereal artwork and visuals highlighting retro boxes and classic cereal collectibles, fashion inspired by famous pop art designs and interactive exhibits. Among the "who's who" of the elite foodie world, Warner will be on-site creating fun, cereal-inspired cocktails and discussing his cereal fascination with attendees. Like all Festival events, all proceeds benefit Food Bank for New York City and Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign. For Cereal Lovers OnlyFueling the campaign is a growing digital ecosystem of cereal fanatics who are sharing their insatiable appetite for all things cereal in many expressive ways – from posting pictures of their own cereal bowls and favorite iconic characters to sharing stories about the new and different ways they incorporate cereal into their lives all day, every day. The aggregation of their posts are collected and shared in the vibrant online community at www.hellocereallovers.com. Cereal fans will find colorful postcards from all around Hello, Cereal Lovers' 'Cereal Nation,' creations that make people think outside the bowl about cereal. Fellow cereal lovers are also encouraged to join the fun to receive recipes, creative ideas, craft inspirations and more, and to get "cereal-ously social" on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. To see a video of cereal through the ages, click here. Better than you thinkNew research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) showed the nutrition profile of ready-to-eat cereals has markedly improved, according to data collected between 2005-2011. 15 The study found that whole grain is now a key ingredient in two-thirds of cereals made by leading ready-to-eat cereal manufacturers. In addition to whole grains, supermarket shoppers walking down the cereal aisle will find more fiber and less sugar and sodium than they did seven years ago. Fiber in breakfast cereals increased 32 percent on average, while sugar and sodium decreased on average 10 percent and 14 percent, respectively. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that cereals provide less than 4 percent of total sugar and only 2 percent of sodium in the diet. 1 Research also continues to show that people who eat cereal have healthier body weights and better intake of nutrients including fiber, calcium and vitamin D; all identified as nutrients of need in the most recent Dietary Guidelines 1-14. They also get more whole grain, and less cholesterol and fat, compared to people who don't eat cereal. As an industry leader, General Mills remains committed to enhancing the nutritional value of cereal. The company offers more than 40 cereals that have 130 calories or less per serving. As of January 2012, all Big G cereals have more whole grain than any other single ingredient providing at least 10 grams of whole grain or more per serving. Big G cereals are a leading source of whole grain in America. 1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7 th ed. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office;2010. 2 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service. 2012. What We Eat in America. 3 Albertson AM J Am Diet Assoc 2003 4 Cho J AM Coll Nutr 2003 Barton J Am Diet Assoc 2004Albertson J Am Diet Assoc 2009 5 Deshmukh-Taskar J Am Diet Assoc 2010 6 Bertais Nutr Metab 2000 7 Albertson AM J of Food Research 2013 8 de la Hunty A Obes Facts 2013 9 Albertson AM et al. J AgingResearch. 2012 10 Albertson AM J Nutr Food Sci 2012 11 Affenito SG J Sch Health 2013 12 Miller KB ICAN 2013 13 Frantzen LB J Acad Nutr Diet 2013 14 Albertson AM Nutr Research 2001 15 Thomas RG, et al. Recent trends in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals in the U.S. Procedia Food Science; Volume 2, 2013, Pages 20-26. *NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Many will enter, few will win. Subject to Official Rules. Open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S. states and D.C. who are at least 21 at the time of entry. Sweepstakes starts at 12:00 pm CST on 10/14/13 ends at 11:59 pm CST on 10/26/13. For Official Rules, Winner's names, prize descriptions and odds disclosure, visit www.seriouseats.com. Sponsor: General Mills Sales, Inc., One General Mills Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55440. About General MillsGeneral Mills is one of the world's leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries around the world. Its brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., USA, General Mills had fiscal 2013 worldwide sales of US $17.8 billion.