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Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options to grab at home
What to look for in dry cereals
Cereal may frequently be your go-to item for breakfast, whether you grab a handful to eat dry while on the run, or you have time to sit down with a bowl with milk and fruit. But not all cereals are created equal. Read the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list before you buy cereal. And remember that not all cereals have the same serving size. A serving of one cereal might be 1/2 cup, while another may be 1 cup.
The key items to look for when choosing cereal are:
- Fiber. Choose cereals with at least 3 grams (g) of fiber per serving, but if possible, aim for 5 grams per serving or more.
- Sugar. Having sugar doesn't automatically make a cereal unhealthy. But the healthiest choices have 5 or less grams of sugar per serving. Check the Nutrition Facts label. This lists total grams of sugar per serving, which includes both naturally occurring sugar and added sugar. Some cereals contain dried fruit, which has natural sugar and adds to the total amount of sugar. But these cereals may still be healthy choices if eaten in moderation. Avoid cereals that list sugar at or near the top of the ingredient list, or that list multiple types of added sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup, honey, brown sugar and dextrose.
- Calories. If you're counting calories, choose cereals lower in calories, ideally less than 120 calories per serving. Some cereals have more calories per serving but can still be healthy choices.
|Examples of good options for dry breakfast cereals|
|Cereal and serving size||Fiber in grams||Sugar in grams||Calories|
|General Mills Cheerios, 1 cup||3||1||103|
|General Mills Fiber One, 1/2 cup||14||0||60|
|Kashi Go Lean, 1 cup||10||6||148|
|Kellogg's All-Bran Bran Buds, 1/3 cup||13||8||75|
|Kellogg's All-Bran Original, 1/2 cup||9||5||81|
|Post Raisin Bran, 1 cup||7||17||187|
|Post Shredded Wheat Original Spoon Size, 1 cup||6||0.5||167|
|Quaker Life Cereal, plain, 3/4 cup||2||6||119|
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23
Remember to top off your bowl of cereal with some sliced fruit and low-fat or skim milk. Or if you're on the go, take along a piece of fruit, a container of milk or some yogurt.
A word about cereal bars
Cereal bars also may be a good breakfast option. Just be sure to look for those that meet the same guidelines as dry cereal. Also, don't forget some fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt to round things out. Even fruit or yogurt cereal bars won't satisfy all your nutrition requirements for breakfast.
Quick and flexible breakfast options
You have plenty of ways to get in a healthy breakfast each day, and it doesn't always have to be a traditional breakfast menu.
Here are some specific examples of healthy breakfast options:
- Cooked oatmeal topped with almonds or dried cranberries
- A whole-wheat pita stuffed with hard-boiled eggs
- Leftover vegetable pizza
- A tortilla filled with vegetables, salsa and low-fat shredded cheese
- A smoothie blended from exotic fruits, some low-fat yogurt and a spoonful of wheat germ
- Whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter
- A microwaved potato topped with broccoli and grated Parmesan cheese
- A whole-wheat sandwich with lean meat and low-fat cheese and as much lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and sweet peppers as you like
- Multigrain pancakes with fruit and yogurt
- A whole-grain waffle with peanut butter
- Egg omelet with vegetables (use more egg whites than yolk)
Fitting in a healthy breakfast
If you skip breakfast because you're short on time each morning, plan ahead. Some tips to fit in breakfast on a tight schedule:
- The night before, figure out what you'll eat. Then set out dry ingredients and any bowls, blenders or pans so they're ready for use.
- Make breakfast the night before, then just heat as necessary in the morning.
- Pack a to-go breakfast the night before.
If you skip breakfast because you want to save calories, reconsider that plan. Chances are you'll be ravenous by lunchtime. That may lead you to overeat or choose fast but unhealthy options — perhaps doughnuts or cookies a co-worker brings to the office. Your morning meal doesn't have to mean loading up on sugar and fats, and it doesn't have to be time-consuming to be healthy. Keep the breakfast basics in mind and set yourself up for healthier eating all day long.Previous page
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