I went to my local supermarket to find the best options for cereal. I think it’s very important to not only keep out the food additives, but also keep out the cereal loaded with sugar. If your little one normally gets sugary, colorful cereal it might be hard to make the switch initial. Here are some natural, healthy ideas to make cereal more fun:
- Blend your milk with berries and a little vanilla extract. That will help flavor the milk and give it some color! Just a couple strawberries will turn a cup of milk pink, and a small handful of blueberries will turn milk blue.
- Let them add fresh fruit, dried fruit, and sliced nuts for added taste, color, and nutrition.
- Mixing cereal was my favorite thing to do as a kid…okay, even as an adult. :) Let them make their own mix – a handful of this, and a handful of that, and they’ve created their own masterpiece.
The cereals listed do not have artificial colors, or flavors, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes, or the controversial preservative, BHT, in the packaging. These are also are low in sugar, sodium, and have good nutritional value. Here is why you want to avoid these additives:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – All sugars should be limited in our diets, and high fructose corn syrup is no exception. There is an on-going debate whether high fructose corn syrup is causing the obesity epidemic. Princeton proved it may be the cause during a recent study.
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils (trans fat) – Trans Fats are responsible for raising the LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowering the HDL (good cholesterol), and are linked to diabetes, coronary disease, obesity, and others. Don’t let zero trans fat fool you. Food companies are aloud to market 0g of trans fat as long as there is less than .5g per serving. That doesn’t mean they reduce the amount of trans fat to get below the .5g mark, they just change the serving size.
- Caramel Color - There are four types of caramel coloring that can be added to food. Two of the four are made with ammonia, and The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has asked the FDA to ban them. The term ‘caramel color’ is very misleading when it’s actually ammonia, not caramel at all! I avoid caramel coloring whenever I see it.
- Artificial Food Dyes – Not only are artificial food dyes linked to behavioral problems, diabetes, obesity, and asthma, the three most used food dyes (red-40, yellow-5, and yellow-6) contain cancer causing substances. Most food dyes are also petroleum based. Get them out of your food!
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) – A preservative that is added to keep fats from going rancid but is possibly linked to cancer. This preservative is also common in snack bars, gum, make-up and lotions. There have not been enough studies to show whether this preservative is safe, so be safe and keep it out of your food.
This is not a list of organic cereals. This is a list of cereal you should be able to find in almost any store. If you have an organic option available, it is likely a better solution, but I know it’s not always available or affordable. I will continue to update this list.
- Puffed Brown Rice – I know it may not sound appealing but we actually enjoy this type of cereal at home. It has one ingredient and to jazz it up I’ll use vanilla coconut milk, and some fresh fruit.
- Kashi Honey Toasted Oat Heart to Heart – this cereal is tasty, and slightly sweet. I have seen it when traveling in small single serve boxes which is a nice option when traveling. It is high in fiber with 5 grams per serving, a full days worth of vitamin B6, B12, E, and folic acid, 50% vitamin C, 25% vitamin A, and 3 grams of protein. *Likely contains GMO’s.
- Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes – this cereal is tasty, and full of good nutrition. 1 cup has 6 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein, and only 4 grams of sugar. This cereal is certified non-GMO.
- Kashi Autumn Wheat – another great option from Kashi. This cereal is high in fiber and flavor! Also certified as non-GMO.
- Post Grape Nuts – just half a cup of this cereal has 7 grams of fiber, and 90% of your daily iron. It is higher in sodium than the other choices.
- Cheerios – I feel like this is the go-to for many families. It does not have any controversial ingredients but it does have a long list of ingredients. Only one gram of sugar and 100 calories per serving, and lots of folic acid and iron make this a good choice for the whole family. *Cheerios likely contain GMO’s. There are organic versions of Cheerios available in most supermarkets.
Some other cereals you may not find in every store but you can get online. There are some organic and gluten-free options below:
- Weetabix - this cereal can be harder to find in most grocery stores. I enjoy the taste of weetabix, it only has a couple ingredients, and is high in fiber. You can have it cold, or warm!
- Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Oats – This cereal has 5 grams of fiber per serving and also 6 grams of protein!
- Udi’s Gluten-Free Granola - I have seen this product in most supermarkets by my house, so ask for it if your store doesn’t carry it. They have a $1 off coupon available online to new customers.
- Nature’s Path Organics – Nature’s Path offers a selection of organic cereals, and they have many gluten-free options. I have tried several of their cereals and have always enjoyed them. They offer free shipping through their website on orders over $39.
Cereal alternatives that are simple and fast!
- Eggs – scrabbled eggs take just a couple minutes to make, and if you hard-boil some eggs at the beginning of the week they’ll stay good for several days.
- Organic Plain Yogurt – yogurt is high in sugar, but if you are using greek yogurt you are getting lots of protein. Yogurt is easy to add toppings to change the flavor. Try adding fresh fruit, Barlean’s Omega Swirl, chia seeds, dried fruit, or nuts.
- Oatmeal – try making overnight oats so it is ready in the morning! I have two recipes, cinnamon raisin and blueberry.
- Chia Puddings – similar to overnight oats, chia pudding takes about 5 minutes the night before to put together. I have two recipes one for chocolate banana and pumpkin spice.