On days when you need a quick breakfast, try one of these healthy cereal recommendations from Self!
While we'll always have a soft spot for the nostalgic, cartoon-covered cereals of childhood, our grown-up selves are wise enough to know by now that the sugary stuff doesn't cut it anymore. Thankfully, a host of innovative companies have come out with artisan protein- and fiber-packed cereals and muesli worth exploring (lentils in your cereal? It's a thing). And if you need another reason to pour yourself a bowl, the latest research connects whole grain and cereal fiber consumption with lower risk of chronic disease. "A cereal should have no more than 6 grams of sugar per 1/2 cup or 100 calories and have a whole grain listed as the first ingredient," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, nutrition expert and author of Read It Before You Eat It. Armed with these parameters, we braved the ever-expanding cereal aisle to round up the best new clean eating options that you can feel safe spooning up, guilt-free.
Seven Sundays Bircher Unsweetened Muesli
The husband and wife team behind this new brand discovered muesli on their honeymoon to New Zealand. They couldn't find anything like it back home, so they made their own. Yummy hot or cold, this Swiss-style muesli made with oats, barley and rye is raw and sweetener-free, but that doesn't mean it's flavorless. Almonds, apples, dates, currants, plus flax and sunflower seeds, pepitas, brazil nuts and banana chips, all coated in a heavy dose of cinnamon, equal yummy, filling, and amazing with almond milk. Their Vanilla Cherry Pecan is also delish and a little higher in sugar (9g for 1/2 cup).
240 cal, 8g fat, 7g fiber, 6g sugar, 8g protein per 1/2 cup. $4.99 for 12 oz.; available nationwide at Target, The Fresh Market, select Whole Foods stores and other retailers (find a store here)
18 Rabbits Jr. Organic Granola Cereal
These new blends from artisan organic granola maker 18 Rabbits were made exclusively for Target. They were also made for kiddies, but hey, we aren't above borrowing from the kids' aisle. Made from organic and non-GMO ingredients, this better-for-you line comes in two delicious flavors, Caramel Apple and Chocolate Banana, both surprisingly low in sugar.
Chocolate Banana, 140 cal, 6g fat, 3g fiber, 5g sugar, 3g protein per 1/2 cup; Caramel Apple, 130 cal, 5g fat, 2g fiber, 6g sugar, 3g protein per 1/2 cup. $4.99 for 8 oz.; available at Target stores nationwide
Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Organic 6-Grain Hot Cereal
There's a new ancient grain in town and it's in this cereal from Purely Elizabeth. Kaniwa is a cousin of quinoa and has similar nutrition stats: gluten-free, high in protein, fiber, amino acids, iron and zinc. Blended with organic gluten free oats, buckwheat groats, millet, quinoa, amaranth, chia, hemp and flax, this is a superstar super-grain line-up if we've ever heard one. They also have quick-cooking apple cinnamon pecan version that has less than 1 gram of sugar per serving.
170 cal, 3.5g fat, 5g fiber, 0g sugar, 7g protein per 1/3 cup dry (about 1 cup cooked). $6.39 for 14 oz.; available at natural food stores nationwide, including Whole Foods and at purelyelizabeth.com
Food for Life Baking Co. Flourless Flake Cereal
Ezekiel Bread has long been a fave of healthy eaters, and their brand new line of cereal is just as cult-worthy. Made of lentils, soybeans, and grains that have been soaked in water until they sprout (this makes them low glycemic and easier to digest), the hearty flakes are lightly sweetened with agave, delicious, and contain all 9 essential amino acids (a.k.a. a complete protein). You also get a healthy dose of omega-3s with the Flax + Chia flavor.
105 cal, 1g fat, 3g fiber, 3.5g sugar, 4g protein per 1/2 cup (recommended serving size is 3/4 cup). $5.49 for 16 oz.; available in natural food stores nationwide
Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Muesli
This hearty mix of extra-thick rolled oats is packed with the good stuff: plump, juicy raisins, sweet-tart dried cranberries, raw sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, almonds, brown rice crisps, dry roasted soybeans, and unsweetened coconut flakes.
220 cal, 6g fat, 4g fiber, 10g sugar, 6g protein (recommended serving size is 1/4 cup). $6.29 for 16 oz.; available in most grocery stores nationwide and online at BobsRedMill.com
Ancient Harvest Ancient Grain Hot Cereal
Quinoa, millet, amaranth, and rolled oats pump up the protein in this earthy hot cereal. And just like your regular oatmeal, all you have to do is pour it into a bowl, add water or milk, stir and microwave for a few minutes. It comes in flavors like Banana and Brown Sugar, but we say stay with the lower-sugar plain version and add fresh fruit yourself.
180 cal, 3g fat, 4g fiber, 0g sugar, 7g protein per pouch. $6.99 for box of 6 single-serve pouches; available at natural grocers nationwide (buy online or find a store here)
Love Grown Foods Power O's & Mighty Flakes
Cereal made with navy beans, garbanzo beans and lentils? Whaaaa? Yep. This brand brings to mind two classics (cough, Cheerios and Wheaties), but with more fiber and protein thanks to the legumes.
Power O's, 65 cal, 1g fat, 2g fiber, 1g sugar, 3g protein per 1/2 cup (recommended serving size is 1 cup); Mighty Flakes, 110 cal, 1g fat, 2g fiber, 4g sugar, 4g protein per 1/2 cup. $4.99 for 10 oz. Power O's and 12 oz. Mighty Flakes; available at Kroger, Sprouts, select Whole Foods and lovegrownfoods.com
Great Grains Protein Blend
Crunchtastic whole grain flakes (cracked wheat and whole kernel barley) sweetened with molasses and honey, topped off with pumpkin seeds, almonds and sunflower-seed-studded clusters make for one satisfying mix.
110 cal, 2.5g fat, 3g fiber, 4.5g sugar, 4g protein per 1/2 cup (recommended serving size is 1 cup). $4.99 for 13.5 oz.; available at grocery stores nationwide, including select Walmart stores
GrandyOats Real Granolas
Based in rural Maine, GrandyOats is committed to making real food. Translation: hearty, wholesome, organic, non-GMO, no refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, and lots of healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and coconut. Classic Granola and Swiss-Style Muesli are their two lowest sugar options, but the Mainely Maple is really tasty, too, and not outrageously high in sugar (9g for 1/2 cup).
Classic Granola, 260 cal, 13g fat, 5g fiber, 7g sugar, 7g protein per 1/2 cup; Swiss-Style Muesli, 210 cal, 5g fat, 6g fiber, 5g sugar, 8g protein per 1/2 cup. $6.99 for 13-15 oz.; $15.99 for 48-oz. value pack; available at grandyoats.com and select natural food stores
Back to the Roots Stoneground Organic Flakes
Back to the Roots founders/entrepreneurs Nik Arora and Alex Velez, the people who made it possible to grow organic mushrooms from a box of recycled plant-based soil, are getting into breakfast biz with an impressively minimalist (and tasty) 3-ingredient organic cereal made of non-GMO stoneground wheat from California, cane sugar from Florida and a pinch of sea salt from the San Francisco Bay.
80 cal, 0g fat, 2.5g fiber, 2.5g sugar, 3g protein per 1/2 cup (recommended serving size is 1 cup). $4.99 for 11 oz.; available in select Whole Foods and Costco stores, via Amazon Prime or at backtotheroots.com
Peace Cereal Maple Buckwheat Hemp Supergrains
This non-GMO brand delivers a protein- and fiber-packed cereal that tastes like a crunchy version of soul-satisfying buckwheat pancakes with organic maple syrup. Plus, they make a contribution to non-profit causes for every box of cereal sold.
120 cal, 2.5g fat, 2.5g fiber, 4g sugar, 4.5g protein per 1/2 cup (recommended serving size is 3/4 cup). $5.49 for 9 oz.; available at select grocery stores and PeaceCereal.com
ThinkThin Original Sprouted Grains Oatmeal
Get your fiber and protein on-the-go with this new whole grain hot cereal—a mix of rolled oats, steel cut oats, sprouted buckwheat and sprouted quinoa with a hint of brown sugar.
200 cal, 3g fat, 5g fiber, 7g sugar, 10g protein per packet. $5.49 for box of 6 packets; available at select grocery stores, including Sprouts and Kroger Stores or thinkproducts.com
Pereg Quinoa Cocoa Pops
Cuckoo for cocoa…quinoa pops? A yummy alternative to puffed rice or corn cereal, these itty bitty gluten-free puffs are made by popping whole grain quinoa under high pressure and a bit of heat (like popcorn). With only three other ingredients—sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla—they're super-chocolately, but a little light on fiber and protein, so enjoy in small portions with milk or Greek yogurt and fruit.
80 cal, 1g fat, 1g fiber, 5g sugar, 1g protein per 1/2 cup (recommended serving size is 25g, about 5/8 cup). $4.99 for 3.53 oz.; available at select grocery stores including Giant Foods and Fairway or pereg-gourmet.com
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