This post was written by Christen C. Cooper, MS, RD (www.coopernutrition.com).
I can’t recall when I learned about the KISS principle, which stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” But I think it’s the perfect principle to follow when choosing a breakfast cereal. I have two children, a husband and a college student living under my roof. We manage to please everybody by stocking several basic cereals, which each of us can “tailor” to our personal tastes.
We have a few that we regularly eat for breakfast, and a few that we buy to eat as snacks or dessert. My personal KISS choices are:
Honey Nut Cheerios: With 110 calories per 3/4 cup serving and a dash of honey flavor that makes my kids like it more than plain Cheerios, this is a family favorite. The kids use 1/2 cup of 1% milk or soy milk. I add nuts and/or berries to my Cheerios, which I find to be a tasty and enjoyable way to get fruit, fiber and omega-3s first thing in the morning.
Kix: This lightly sweet cereal has a mere 110 calories per 1.3 cups, 3 grams of fiber, and packs plenty of vitamins and minerals. My kids, ever the purists, eat it solely with milk, but I think It’s also great for mixing with nuts, raisins, dried fruit, and even other cereals. I blend cereal all the time, often using Kix as my base and adding a few tablespoons of granola or a cereal with lots of interesting, flavorful contents such as Kashi GoLEAN Crunch, which packs in 9 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per serving. (NOTE: If you’re “blending,” watch your calories.Each cereal you add will probably have a different calorie content. Take this into account what kind and how much to add.)
Raisin Bran: This cereal runs about 190 calories per one cup serving, but calorie counts depend upon individual brands. The typical raisin bran packs about 6.5 g of fiber and comes with plump, iron-rich sweet raisins. If you find fiber cereals a bit heavy, you can lighten them up by adding some less dense cereals such as Kix or Cheerios, and eat a blend of the two. Raisin bran is also great alone or mixed with yogurt. Our college student adds bananas to hers and I like to add blueberries when they’re in season. My daughter calls this cereal “water butterflies,” and if it means she’ll eat it, I’m sure not going to tell her otherwise!
Kashi Heart to Heart Toasted Oat Cereal: Not only is this an easy sell to kids, with its cute heart and circle shapes. it’s a more nutritious, sweeter version of a traditional crunchy oat cereal. Heart to Heart contains 120 calories per 3/4 cup serving. It also contains 5 grams of dietary fiber, one of which is soluble fiber. Some studies suggest that soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol.
Fiber One Honey Clusters: When I tasted this cereal, I would never have guessed that it had only 170 calories per 1 1/4 cup serving and 14 grams of fiber! This has become one of my new favorites. It’s tasty and has a fun-to-eat texture.
Kashi GoLEAN Crisp Toasted Berry Crumble: This cereal and a number of new Kashi cereals that feature toasted ingredients, offer protein (about 9 grams), fiber (about 8 grams) and whole grains (around 18 grams). This cereal seems almost too good to be true. It contains 180 calories per 3/4 cup, but even with only a splash of milk, it’s sweet enough to eat as a dessert. I have sprinkled it over ice cream and added it to yogurt. It’s bulk helps you feel satisfied so that you don’t overdo it on the portion size.
You may love cereal and may be already heading to the cupboard for a bowl, but beware of quickly rising calorie counts. I find that for many people, cereal is a big source of excess calories. When I show clients what a half cup serving of cereal looks like, they often think I’m kidding. Try measuring your cereal portions with measuring cups until you get used to what a serving looks like. But don’t go crazy. If you decide that you want a bit more cereal in the morning, just cut back on something later in the day to balance out the calories. It’s all about balance and enjoyment, so KISS away!