The Complicated Truth Behind Your Family's Breakfast Cereal
Cold cereal with milk is one of the fastest ways to get breakfast on the table in the morning. Maybe you've got a cupboard full of different varieties: each kid (and your partner!) have their favorite kind. Cereal can come in handy for a quick snack or even a makeshift dessert. The truth is, most of them pack enough sugar to fall under the latter category.
Take a good look at the ingredient list of the most popular boxes and you'll quickly realize that you are doing you and your family a disservice by feeding them breakfast out of a box.
Have you ever checked out the raisins in a box of Raisin Bran? They are coated with sugar. On the other hand, if the good outweighs the bad, then the extra sweetness may not matter. Kellogg's brand Raisin Brand contains seven grams of fiber, rendering the 40 percent of calories from sugar OK. When corn syrup (or sugar) is listed as the first or second ingredient, then you want to steer clear, but in this family favorite, it's the fifth ingredient making it a healthy winner overall.
Figuring out which cereals are good for your crew is not as complicated as it sounds--once you get the hang of it. Determining which ones your kids will eagerly eat is a bit trickier, but it is not a lost cause.
1. Look at the labels. As demonstrated in the above example, reading labels is a must. Although a Reader's Digest article says that expert advice varies, the general rule of thumb is not to select boxes that contain more than five to eight grams of sugar per serving. (Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, Cap'n Crunch: you're out!).
2. Whole grains are a must. The professionals over at WedMD don't mince their words: "There's no excuse not to get at least one serving of whole grains if you eat cereal for breakfast." If your kids scoff at the lack of sugar or healthy-tasting grains, offer to put some sweet fruit in the bowl as well. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries make delicious accompaniments to the breakfast bowl.
3. Skip the saturated fat. Make a beeline for the section of organic cereal choices. Reading the labels is still important, but you're far less likely to encounter the bad guys (high-fructose corn syrup, salt, fat), which make eating a bowl of cereal a recipe a nutritional disaster.
4. Make the most of your milk. Changing over to one or two percent if you've been purchasing fat-free skim might help the amaranth flakes go down easier. We're big fans of the organic variety because it tastes just a bit sweeter than the regular stuff. Yes, it's more expensive, but its shelf-life is at least twice as long, so if you see it on sale, buy accordingly.
Truth is, while it might take your family some time to get used to eating the healthier types, after time a bowl full of the dessert disguised as cereal will taste too sweet first thing in the morning, and your kids will be asking for the Kashi.
Ready to ditch the boxed stuff altogether? Get some eggs on the breakfast table with the recipes in the slideshow above.
By Stacey Gawronski