We’ve all heard it: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Well done, Mr. Brekky, you pinnacle of the day’s meals. And what do many of us reach for and give our children for this most important of feasts? Sugar-laden cereal! Believe me, I GET that kids like cereal. And it’s fast. So let’s not drop it as an option, but pick a better one. Next time you’re in the cereal aisle, grab a box.
Is sugar on there? Put it back.
Is barley malt extract? That’s another word for sugar. See above.
Is “flavours” on there? Back on the shelf. (I mean, what does “flavours” even entail? It’s a food additive that your body doesn’t want or need.)
Colours? You know I’m gonna say Put It Back.
Dextrose? Another form of sugar. (See how they sneak a lot of sugar in there by using different names?)
Natural Flavours. That sounds harmless enough, right? Well, the truth is that these flavours originate from somewhere natural but can be combined with synthetic chemicals (but food companies don’t have to state that…shocking, right?!). So yah, skip these.
Mate, what are these things? They’re food additives designed to extend shelf life and improve flavour and your body doesn’t need them or know how to process them. Too much of this stuff builds up and throws the system out of whack.
Right, so if you’ve now looked at every cereal on the shelf and feel at a loss for what to have for breakfast, no need to worry. There are options, and I’m not even touching on everything else you could eat for breakfast, just sticking with the cereal theme.
First of all, homemade muesli or granola. Fortnightly I make a big batch of muesli that my family eats most days.
For myself, I sometimes make a granola using Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats and add more honey and oil and bake it in one layer so it’s all crunchy clusters. And then I use it more like a topping.
Which brings me to my next point: Quantity. Instead of making the cereal the focus, treat it more as a crunchy topping—the crouton for your breakfast salad, if you will. Heap some Greek yogurt into the bowl with a few different fruits, a splash of milk and top all that with your muesli or Corn Flakes.
Speaking of: Cornflakes.
Sorry, Kellogg’s, but yours just has too many of the above yucks. I buy Hubbard’s Thank Goodness Gluten Free Corn Flakes. Here’s the ingredient list: Corn, Apple Juice Concentrate (natural, not white sugar, hurrah!), Salt, Vitamins, Mineral.
And there’s SO MUCH you can do with these cornflakes beyond the cereal bowl. My children love this recipe for Crunchy Quinoa Crisps. (They refer to it as poos—always keeping it classy.) And instead of the puffed quinoa (also yummy, but a more expensive and elusive ingredient), I use the Hubbard’s Cornies. Also good, puffed brown rice. And then there’s Nigella’s Crunchy Chicken Cutlets recipe. My husband loooooves this one. I buy chicken tenders and pound them out because they’re easier to handle and make better portions for the family.
If your kids will eat oatmeal—and I mean straight-up oats, not the packaged stuff with added flavouring and sugar—then go for it. A fantastic option, the humble oat with some fruit and choice of milk.
And there you have it—easy swaps for the sugar- and additive-laden options dominating the cereal aisle.
Image: Granola, Courtesy of Anne Watson Photography