Creating a Healthy Breakfast Cereal
Often times you hear “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. I am a firm believer that this tagline is true. Breakfast is the meal that our body wakes up to. It kick starts our metabolism and sets the tone for our eating habits throughout the day. Some of the breakfast options out there on the shelves these days are so discouraging to see as a dietitian. Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Trix? Coco Puffs? Go-Gurt? All of these claiming to have some sort of nutritional benefit. When you look at the labels, “sugar” is in the top two ingredients in all of these. Remember that ingredients are listed by weight. The first ingredient is the predominant ingredient in the food item. When purchasing these foods, I cannot stress the importance of reading the nutrition labels enough. I am a firm believer that we are what we eat. Sugar has absolutely NO nutritional value, none whatsoever.
Cereal can be a simple, convenient way to start your day off right. But it’s so easy to buy the wrong kind. A good breakfast cereal should abide by the rule of 4’s:
- Contain as few ingredients as possible AND you should know what all of these ingredients are
- Contain 4g of sugar or less (preferably none!)
- Contain at least 4g of fiber or more- top off with fresh fruit and ground chia or flax to increase the fiber content
- Contain at least 4g of protein- top off with ground chia or flax to increase protein content
One thing I like to do to pump up my breakfast cereal is to add a small amount (2TBS) of another high protein and fiber cereal blend. By adding a blend of Chia, Buckwheat and Hemp to your regular cereal, you are not only bumping up the fiber and protein content, but you are adding an additional nutritional boost of Omega 3 fatty acids and iron. You can find cereal blends like these through online vendors (such as Amazon), health food stores such as Whole Foods or the Natural/Organic section of larger supermarkets or simply create your own. Although the blends are great and will add an additional nutritious, flavorful crunch- plain Chia or ground flax seed is also an excellent addition for a breakfast cereal to boost protein, fiber and healthy fat content. Another alternative is to add a handful of unsalted nuts to your cereal. Ground Almonds or crushed walnuts will also add more fiber, protein, healthy fats and vitamins and minerals. Remember to look at your serving sizes! The serving size for most breakfast cereals is usually around ¾ cup, but they all vary. Try adding any of these recommended nutritional powerhouses to plain, yogurt instead of milk for an additional nutritious enhancement of protein and healthy, gut friendly bacteria. Top this breakfast off with some sliced fresh fruit and you will be starting your day off on the right foot! Enjoy!!