What better way to start a series of breakfast posts than with breakfast cereal?
We've all been there - moseying down the cereal aisle at the grocery store, ready to pick up the usual goods. But suddenly you think "hey, that cereal's on sale and my regular isn't ... maybe I should check it out!" So, what do you do? Do you just drop it in the cart and keep walking? Or do you take a look at the Nutrition Facts table on the side panel first? Or, do you take it one step further and compare the new Nutrition Facts table to the one on your ol' faithful cereal?
I'm hoping you do one of the two latter options. And if you do, I hope you look at some of the following:
1) SODIUM - keep the salt low. Definitely shoot for less than 400 mg in a serving (the table will tell you what a "serving" is).
2) FIBRE - aim high! Try for at least 4 g of fibre per serving. Anything less, and you're missing a chance to pack some serious fibre into your day. Remember - adults need 25-38 grams per day, so get some in the A.M.
3) SUGARS - keep 'em low. Find a cereal with 8 g of sugar or less per serving if you can. Keep in mind that if there's any dried fruit (raisins or even shriveled little strawberry chunks) in the cereal, that will bump up the sugar content. If that's the case, you can allow a little more sugar - use your discretion.
4) INGREDIENTS - READ THEM!!! Too often we skip this step, thinking we've done our due diligence by pretending to read the Nutrition Facts table. The ingredients are important though! After all, don't you want to know what it is that you're eating??
Now that you're reading the ingredients, you want the first ingredient to be a whole grain. "Whole wheat" isn't good enough - they don't have to put the entire grain in there to score that title. Whole grain is where it's at (means you're getting the benefit of the germ, endosperm and bran - that's a good thing!).
If you can find something that meets all of these criteria, you've found a keeper. Even better if it packs a bit of protein to help keep you full.
But, to be honest, it can be difficult to meet all these standards, so if you're stuck, pick the ones that are most important to you and go with them. Or, give up altogether (as I have), and try something else for breakfast. I make a mean bowl of pb&j oatmeal in a hurry:
1/3 cup rolled oats (I use large flake rather than quick to get a little more fibre)
2/3 cup water
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp strawberry jam
1/2 cup strawberries
low-fat milk (skim, 1% or 2%) to taste
Dump the oats and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir frequently until oatmeal thickens to desired consistency.
Remove from heat and stir in pb and jam.
Top with strawberries and milk.
Eat and enjoy!
Did I mention it hits all 4 food groups? Especially if you have a glass of milk on the side. YEAH!