Breakfast Cereal 101

September is quickly coming to an end, but before it leaves us I wanted to do a post supporting September as Better Breakfast Month. Y’all know I love me some alliteration, and it being about breakfast is even better. So for Build a Better Breakfast, I wanted to share my tips on one of my all time favorite foods: Cereal.

Photo 3The are 3 more boxes hiding behind these

I love cereal, and I have a really hard time stopping at just one bowl. I have been asked a few times about how I pick out healthy cereals amongst the many high sugar and preservative filled boxes out there. Cereal can be full of really great things, or it can be a box of a whole lot of nothing. And trust me you can find healthy cereals that don’t taste like cardboard. There are a few steps involved in how I eat cereal:

First, I start in the store with the Nutrition Label.

Sugar: The first thing I look at on the label. The sugar content is a make or break for me. Just for a reference, anything above 5g of sugar will increase your blood sugar level. Definitely try to stay under 10g per serving. My top cereal range between 0g-7g of sugar usually. There is a difference between natural sugar and added sugar too.

Next, my eyes go to calories and serving size: The cereals I buy range between 50-200 calories usually.    But the serving size is important too. How much can you eat for those calories. My range seems wide, but  we  will get to that later. I want my total breakfast to be around 350 calories.

Protein and Fiber: I like my cereal to a few grams of both protein and fiber in it. The more the better. And  the  longer I will stay full with these two nutrients.

Fats: I prefer low to no fat. But I will take a little bit of healthy mono-saturated fats over one with more  sugar.  Little to no saturated fat is ideal.

If the nutritional stats look good, then I head to the Ingredients:

I look at the first 3 ingredients, those are the most abundant ingredients. I want whole grains listed first, and  I prefer that sugar, corn syrup, or any of variation of sugar not be listed in the top three.

I also try to look for cereals with whole food ingredients and no preservatives, artificial coloring or flavoring,  no refined sugars. Basically, make your recognize and can pronounce all the ingredients. For the best  options, based on the ingredients list it is something you could recreate.

Back at home, I always measure out cereal:

It is very easy to underestimate how much cereal you are eating. I always use a measuring cup and make  sure my proportions are correct.

Mixing cereals:

I like to eat a lot and breakfast is my favorite meal. I usually mix 1/2-3/4 of a serving of higher calorie/high  sugar content cereals like flaked cereal with a lower calorie/ low-to no sugar cereals like puffed cereal or  Fiber One or Trader Joe’s O’s (like cheerios with 1g of sugar/serving)

Toppings: I add to the filling power and nutritional profile of my cereal with a bunch of berries, banana, and or low sugar protein power. Chia seeds or ground flax make great additions as well for a dose of healthy fats.

Milk: Low fat, skim, or non diary milk. My go-to is always unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Chocolate is  also nice sometimes.

My Top 5 High Calorie or Sugar Cereals:

1. Puffins: I love them all, but the cinnamon are by far my favorite.

2. Nature’s Path Flake Cereal: Particularly Heritage Flakes, Millet Rice Flakes, and Mesa Sunrise

3. Uncle Sam’s Original

4. Quaker Oatmeal Squares

5. Kashi Go Lean or Kashi Heart to Heart

Runners Up: Kashi U, Kashi Cinnamon Harvest, Grape Nuts

Top 5 Low Calorie / Little No Sugar Cereals:

1. Any Nature’s Path Puffed Cereal: Rice, Millet, Amaranth, Kamut

2. Erewhorn Crispy Brown Rice

3.  Fiber One Original

4. Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Wheat

5. Trader Joe’s O’s Regular and Multrigrain (basically Cheerios)

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Hope you got some helpful info to build a better breakfast with cereal. It is also great on top of yogurt, and smoothies, even ice cream : ) Happy Eating!

Do you love cereal? What is your favorite brand?

Finally, check out my new Live Beautiful Page in the menu underneath my banner. And tell me, What did you do that you are proud of today? I finally got that Live Beautiful Page up – it has been in draft since I started the blog.


  1. I love cereal. Growing up I could have lived off cereal. My favorites are triple berry granola (Archer Farms), spelt flakes, Cinnamon harvest shredded wheat (kashi) and Goji berry flakes. I check the labels for ingredients, and vitamins and go by very similiar guidelines.

    • I’m interested in these goji berry flakes. I will have check them out. Admittedly, I never really check the vitamins. I probably should.

  2. I do love cereal! But I east breakfast at work most of the time and I don’t have milk there so I tend to not have it for breakfast much.

    I classify cereal into two categories: 1) Breakfast cereal 2) nighttime snack cereal

    My favorite breakfast cereal combo is kashi go-lean or a bran-flake type cereal (there’s a trail mix, bran cereal from TJ’s I like but can’t remember the name) and fresh blueberries! My favorite dessert cereal is TJ’s Peanut butter Puffs and/or honey-nut Cherios.

    • Oooh, the TJ’s trail mix sounds like it could be good! I’ve been on a big blueberry in cereal kick lately too. I could seriously add a whole pint.

  3. I go through phases with cereal, and since the summer I’ve been on a cereal kick (probably because of all those free coupons from HLS!) I love mixing the brown rice cereal with granola,
    and topping it with nuts and banana.

    On another note, I got your feed to work again! I think I has the WordPress one in there accidentally. :)

    • That’s great about the feed! I was at a loss. I’ve been hoarding all my coupons! I need to go cash them in.

  4. I LOVE cereal!! :)

    • Haha, best comment! It says it all. I know sometimes I feel like I could eat cereal for every meal. Not so healthy habit.

  5. Lynda @ healthy hoboken girl says:

    Hi Ashley!

    Great post, I’m a cereal nut myself. You’re making me want to have a bowl right now! Can’t wait for tomorrow morning, my vote… uncle sam’s, yum!

    • Yes, Uncle Sam’s is probably tied with my love for Cinnamon Puffins. I still have to do your “I Dig Your Blog” survey. I’ve been trying to figure out what to say!

  6. I used to hate having cereal for breakfast as a kid, but now I love it! My all time fav is Kashi Strawberry Fields, followed closely by Heart to Heart.

    • Good options! Glad you entered the cereal loving world. It is a dangerous place though. I told my bf last night, it might be more dangerous to have cereal around than chocolate.

  7. I am the EXACT same way when shopping for cereals! And all your favorites are mine too! Get out of my head woman! ;)

    I’m so favorite anything changes almost daily, but I’m a bit hung up on Puffins lately…the original ones are the best! Am I the only one totally freaked out by the size of the peanut butter ones??

    • No you are not! I love the pb puffins, but yea I definitely do not buy them as much as the others because of the size. There are the new choc and pb ones. I haven’t had them yet. Are the size of those one’s normal??


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