I’m often asked about breakfast cereal. With so many options, Moms want to know which are the best choices for their kids-and themselves! Mornings are busy and we don’t want to have to think about nutrition first thing in the morning.
Now, I have to say this, because I’m a Nutritionist: Breakfast cereal is not the best breakfast option for you. A fruit smoothie, yogurt topped with nuts and fruit, eggs and whole grain toast…these are excellent options to fuel your body through the morning. Cereal CAN be void of all good things. Not all, but a good amount-especially the cereals marketed for kids.
But it is convenient. And yes, I do feed my kids cereal on busy mornings. They like it, they eat it. And I supplement with fruit and try to change it up as often as possible for healthier options.
But I’m realistic. Not all families have the time or want to make the effort early in the morning while getting ready for school and work. I understand that-so I’ve gotten down to the nitty-gritty of the cereal aisle and chosen the five best so you don’t have to think about it.
Before I tell you my favourites, here is what I like to focus on:
A serving of cereal should have a minimum of 4g of fibre. Why? This is your first meal of the day and your body has been in “resting mode” all night. You need to give your body something to get MOVING (in all aspects of the word). Not only that, but more fibre means the sugar (natural or not) that’s in the food you’re eating will be absorbed more slowly by your body, making the energy it is producing last longer. Plus fibre is bulk that will make you (and your kids) feel fuller, longer. So you’ll be full in your belly and full of energy until lunch. Fibre is always a winner.
Less is better. We obviously all know this. When looking at the numbers, consider this: 4g of sugar is 1 teaspoon. So if ONE SERVING of cereal has 8g of sugar, that’s 2 teaspoons first thing in the morning. Natural or not, that’s going to give you a jolt. Also, if you’ve got a teenager in the house that eats out of a mixing bowl, chances are they’re getting more than one serving of cereal. Try to stick to less than 4g per serving-it’s not easy!
This is what will keep you going. If your cereal doesn’t have protein, make sure whatever milk or milk alternative you use has some. The combination of protein with complex carbs are a wicked duo to keep your belly happy until the next chow time.
TOP 5 BREAKFAST CEREALS
Surprised? I bet you’re not. At the top of my list is steel cut oatmeal but any non-sweetened variety is great. A cup of cooked oatmeal has 4g of fibre, 1g of sugar, and 6g of protein. It’s naturally sweet and is delightful topped with blueberries, bananas, or any fruit really.
If you think it will take too long to make, here’s my steel-cut secret: Add 4 cups of water to 1 cup steel cut oats. THE NIGHT BEFORE you want to eat it, bring to a boil on the stove. Turn off heat, cover and leave overnight. In the morning, you’ll have beautifully cooked oats, ready to go. Makes four servings.
Another great portioned and packaged oatmeal option is Qi’a. The ingredients are simple with no added sugar and they’re ready to go in minutes.
#2: Shredded Wheat
This cereal contains one ingredient. Wheat. Although these days “Wheat” tends to be a bad word, I love this cereal when it comes to breakfast time because it contains 6g of fibre, less than 1g of sugar, and 5g of protein. If you can tolerate wheat-it doesn’t get much simpler than this. Again, add some fruit and you’ve got a perfect breakfast to get you through the day.
#3: Love Grown Power O’s Original
Beans for breakfast? You bet. But no one will actually know. This cereal is made from navy beans, lentils, and chickpeas. You might be turning up your nose now, but once you taste them and feel amazing all day, you’ll keep going back for more. Per serving, you get 4g of fibre, only 2g of sugar, and 6g of protein. I’ll take it.
#4: President’s Choice Organics 7 Reasons Multigrain Cereal
Although this cereal doesn’t QUITE reach my 4g of fibre (it sits just below at 3g), I still love the ingredient list and it has no added sugar with only 2g per serving. Plus this cereal has 4g of protein as well so it’s fairly balanced. Why 7 reasons? It’s got 7 grains all jam packed into delicious flakes. And if you’re looking for an organic choice, this is a nice one as many organic cereals add “organic cane sugar” which is still added sugar.
#5: Nature’s Path Millet Rice Cereal
The name certainly doesn’t do this cereal justice. It might be a hard sell or kids (so I would just come up with a better name like YUMMY cereal or FUN FLAKES…or better). Once again, this cereal also doesn’t meet my 4g of fibre as it also sits at 3g but the ingredient list wins me over. Oats, rice, millet, and sweetened with fruit juice? Awesome. It’s sitting on the cusp with 4g of sugar but it will keep you full and happy until lunch with another 4g of protein as well.
With two of my five cereals sitting under the 4g of fibre mark, I wanted to touch on ways you can increase that amount in a delicious and easy way. Breakfast cereal is made to be quick and easy and so are these toppers:
Flax, Chia or Hemp Seeds:
In just one tablespoon, you’ll get an extra 2g of fibre from flaxseed, 1g of fibre from hemp seeds, and a whopping 5g of fibre from chia seeds. Not only that, but all of these seeds also contain protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
A classic topper. Depending on the nut you choose, you can get 2g-4g of fibre plus protein. And they’re so delicious! Make sure to buy the variety that are raw, unsalted and still have their skins (more fibre!).
Any fruit is always the best topping to cereal. It adds sweetness, vitamins, and of course, fibre. 1/2 cup of blueberries adds almost 2g of fibre.
What are your favourite breakfast cereals? Do you stick two just one or like to mix them up?
Remember, it’s not all about the nutrition label. Be sure to read the ingredient list and if you can’t pronounce a bunch of ingredients or don’t know what they are, be sure to ask or put it back on the shelf. And always look at the serving size. Make sure it’s a realistic portion for you and your family and buy accordingly.
Good luck and Good Morning!
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