Cereal. Possibly everyone’s FAVORITE convenience food, but definitely one of the WORST foods you can eat, especially in the morning. The commercials and advertising for cereal really get under my skin, too. These sugar and chemical-filled foods are usually marketed toward kids, using bright colors and funny characters to grab your child’s attention. Oh, and their slogans…I bet we know them all.
Do you recognize any of these clever advertising taglines? (Source)
Here are the Top 10 Sugar-Filled kids’ cereals, ranked by percent weight in sugar (Source):
- Kellogg’s Honey Smacks: 55.6% sugar
- Post Golden Crisp: 51.9% sugar
- Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow: 48.3% sugar
- Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries: 46.9% sugar
- Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original: 44.4% sugar
- Quaker Oats Oh!s: 44.4% sugar
- Kellogg’s Smorz: 43.3% sugar
- Kellogg’s Apple Jacks: 42.9% sugar
- Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries: 42.3% sugar
- Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original: 41.4% sugar
WOW, that’s a lot of sugar! Unfortunately, I’ve eaten all of these cereals at some point in my life, but I will save my boys from eating this sugar-filled food substitute. I was a very overweight child (150 lbs in 5th grade) and I am sure my breakfasts of Fruit Loops or Pop Tarts didn’t help my weight problem. We wouldn’t let our children eat a few tablespoons of sugar or a Twinkie for breakfast, so why would we allow them to eat these sweet cereals? It’s not just about the sugar though. There is another problem…even the “healthy” cereals like Bran Flakes, Corn Flakes and yes, even Cheerios are not good alternatives. (Be sure to read this post about why I don’t feed my children cereal.)
The Problems with Cereals made from Grains:
- More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten has been linked to many conditions such as inflammation, IBS, abdominal bloating, migraines, Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, hormone issues such as PCOS, and the list goes on and on! (Source) (Also read Wheat Belly & Grain Brain for more information.)
- All cereals are heavily processed, even the “healthy” & gluten-free ones. Grain mash (water and grain) is put through an ‘extruder’. Studies have shown that the process of “extruding” the grain to form flakes, puffs, shreds, etc., actually destroys most of the nutrients in the grain. (Source)
- Grain-filled cereals are a concentrated form of carbohydrates, even the low-sugar and “healthy” ones. Eating a high carb (with little fat and protein) meal, especially for breakfast, spikes blood sugar, then creates sugar crashes. These blood sugar imbalances keep you and your children hungry throughout the day and can make it hard to focus on the task at hand.
- Most non-organic cereals are typically made from GMO grains.
That’s right, even the process of making cereal depletes the cereal of any possible nutrition, much like the process of homogenization and pasteurization kills anything good in milk …but that’s another post! There are also studies that show rats that ate the cereal box lived longer than those who ate the actual cereal! YIKES!! I’m not making this up, READ for yourself! Cereal marketing is not just focused toward children. Remember the Special K ads?? Please, don’t be fooled by the “Special K Challenge!” Replacing 1 or 2 meals a day with a bowl of grain-filled cereal sounds like a quick path to death instead of health. Chances are, if there is a commercial promoting a food item, don’t buy it! There are exceptions, but this is a pretty good rule! I gave up cereal and oatmeal years ago. It always made me feel lethargic and I was always STARVING 30 minutes later! However, after the birth of my first son almost 3 years ago, I started eating Bran Flakes (for obvious reasons) and my body went haywire! I couldn’t stop eating it. Mind you, bran flakes have no added sugar but eating a bowl was like eating dessert… I couldn’t stop. Oh, and it wasn’t helping me lose my baby weight for sure! That’s when I stumbled upon Dr. Davis’ book, Wheat Belly, and learned how wheat stimulates one’s appetite, even whole grains. That explained it all… no wonder I couldn’t stop at just one bowl. It was more than just the carbs, but the wheat telling my brain to EAT more! Those are some of the reasons why I don’t eat conventional grain-filled cereal, even the gluten-free kind. If you haven’t read Wheat Belly, I HIGHLY recommend it! You will never look at cereal or grains the same again. Your body will thank you!
Healthier Breakfast Ideas
Don’t worry. Giving up grain-filled foods doesn’t mean deprivation, at least not for me! Just like the rest of my recipes, I took the challenge of recreating a grain-free “cereal”. I already have three on my blog: Frosted Flakes, Granola and Peanut Butter Crunch, and now I am adding some of my favorite variations. Of course, my favorite breakfasts are that of bacon, eggs, Sausage Balls and a sausage biscuit using my Southern Biscuit Recipe (in Comforting Eats). Yum! But, I also like keeping this “cereal” on hand for a quick snack or meal. Enjoy this “cereal” with your favorite milk (dairy, unsweetened almond or coconut) or all by itself! Not only are these food delicious, but I actually feel satisfied after eating… that NEVER happened after eating traditional cereal, oatmeal, or grain-filled waffles and pancakes!
Here are some other traditional breakfast recipes:
- Breakfast Casserole with Spaghetti Squash
- Crunchy Waffles
- Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
- Blueberry- Lemon Scones
- Cinnamon Raisin Bread
- Better Than Red Lobster Biscuits
- Satsuma-Cranberry Breakfast Cookies
- Bacon-Cheddar Grande Biscuits
- Blueberry Coffee Cake
- Sausage Balls
- Ricotta Waffles with Blueberry Syrup
Need more ideas?? Be sure to check out my two cookbooks, Satisfying Eats and Comforting Eats for more grain-free and filling breakfast recipes. Check out the full list of Breakfast Recipes HERE. And guess what?? You don’t always have to eat breakfast food for breakfast! Last night’s leftovers make the best breakfast too!
About the recipe
Really, it is so easy, and there are so many variations you can try! You will be surprised how much toasted coconut flakes taste like regular grain-filled, blood sugar spiking cereal! Use the recipe as a template to create the PERFECT bowl of “cereal” to suit your taste buds! Add more nuts or take them out for nut-free! Be sure to try some of the freeze-dried fruits, especially the blueberries. They are nice and crunchy and remind me of the “Berries” from the Captain Crunch that I used to LOVE! Whatever you do, push your grain-filled cereal bowl aside and try my yummy grain-FREE “cereal”!
Note: Be sure to purchase coconut flakes from companies like Bob’s Red Mill, but if purchasing them from Tropical Traditions, be sure to get the Coconut Chips. These are the largest pieces of coconut pieces and for some reason, Tropical Traditions calls them chips.
Another great thing that I like about this “cereal” is how filling it is. 1/2 cup seems to be a great serving. 1/2 cup of regular grain-filled cereal leaves you wanting to eat the entire box! Portion the cereal into individual bowls with lids and let your child pour their own milk for a quick and easy breakfast. I hope you enjoy this quick and delicious recipe!
See Ladies, even Ryan Gosling doesn’t eat regular cereal, but I am 100% positive he would eat my “cereal”!
Makes about 9, 1/2 cup servings
220 Calories, 19.5 grams Fat, 7.5 Net Carbs, 5 grams Fiber, 2.5 Net Carbs, 3 gram Protein per 1/2 cup
- 1/2 lb. unsweetened coconut flakes or coconut chips
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans (omit for nut-free)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (I used homemade)
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (or more if desired)
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (fresh is best)
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger (optional)
- 1/8 tsp. Organic KAL Stevia or 1/4 tsp. Organic Trader Joe's Stevia or sweetener of choice, to taste*
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large bowl, add water along with sweeteners and spices. Whisk until sweetener is dissolved. Add coconut flakes and stir well until flakes are evenly coated. Taste for sweetness. Add more sweetener or spices if desired.
Divide flakes between 2 cookie sheets and spread out evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and stir. Return to oven to cook for another 5 minutes or until the flakes are golden brown but NOT BURNED! (Be careful because the flakes around the edge will brown quicker.)
NOTE: Flakes will cook faster if using darker cookie sheets.
Store cooled cereal in an airtight container.
10 AMAZING Cereal Varieties:
- Cinnamon-Spice Crunch: Follow recipe as written.
- Blueberry Crunch: Add 2 tbsp. freeze dried (or fresh) blueberries and chopped pecans before serving. This is my favorite and I LOVE the blueberry milk left in the bowl, yum!
- Strawberries & Cream: Add freeze dried (or fresh) strawberries.
- Chocolate Chip: Sprinkle 1 tbsp. chocolate chips (I recommend these 70% chips or you can make your own.)
- Cinnamon Raisin: Add raisins to cereal.
- Vanilla Almond Crunch: Add extra sliced almonds and 1/4 tsp. almond extract to your milk. Optional, add 1 tbsp. freeze dried (or fresh) blueberries.
- Banana Nut: Add 1/4 of a small banana, sliced, and chopped pecans.
- Nutty Cranberry Crunch: Add 1/2 tbsp. dehydrated cranberries.
- Frosted Flakes: See this Recipe
- Peanut Butter Crunch: See this recipe.
Really, the possibilities are endless! Try them all, and make sure to leave me a comment about which one is your personal favorite!