Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Eating Healthy When Nothing But Cereal Will Do

french vanilla granola
So delicious... and not so healthy :(
I’d like to say that I’m one of those people that makes myself a healthy, well-rounded meal every morning for breakfast—but then I’d be lying to you. I love cooking, but in the morning there is just so much to do, and I always feel a little rushed. And some mornings, I don’t feel like putting forward the effort to make anything. Some mornings, I (gasp) just want to eat a bowl of cereal.

And you know what? I’m mostly ok with that. I have some fundamental issues with cereal, such as the fact that it never seems to fill me up for long and that it’s too often loaded up with enough sugar to get me through a week. Luckily, there are some healthy cereal options out there that, while not my ideal breakfast, are good enough to get the job done.

How do you choose a healthy cereal? It’s probably one of the worst foods for being able to look healthy while being just the opposite. My absolute favorite granola (Sweet Home Farm French Vanilla) is one of those—it’s SO delicious, but has more added sugar than I’m willing to eat most days. Finding a cereal or granola that’s healthy means you must read the label, even if it doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear.

What should a nutrition label say? Try to find a cereal that fits within these requirements for each half-cup serving:
  • Fewer than 130 calories
  • No added sugar OR sweeteners (fewer than 1 gram of sugar)
  • If you really need a little sweet, look for a cereal with fewer than 6 grams of sugar per serving.
  • 3 grams or more of fiber
  • Maximum 125 mg of sodium
  • No partially hydrogenated oils
  • First ingredient: whole grain
For granola, try to find something that has 140 calories or fewer per ¼ cup serving. Sugar should be fewer than 5 grams per serving, and there should be at least 2 grams of fiber. And again, no partially hydrogenated oils.

If you really want to be healthy, try making your own granola at home--that way you get to control what goes in it, and what stays out!

If you’re a fan of hot cereals, check out this article by Sarah-Jane Bedwell, which is where I pulled these lovely facts. She’s got suggestions for hot cereals as well as freeze-dried fruits, which are a common ingredient in many “healthy” cereals today.

What’s your favorite cereal—healthy or unhealthy?