By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: My sister and I thought we’d share some cereals that are made of simple, healthful, real ingredients after the news that has come out this past week about all the crap found in industrial foods (literally; I just read a report about chicken crap in packaged chicken). What we like on our taste buds may differ, but we can certainly agree that what goes in our bodies should be worth eating!
If you’re one of my UCSB students who isn’t eating a proper breakfast before class, you had better read this post – Ahem! I’m going to put a whole bunch of enticing words together in a long sentence to explain my first cereal recommendation: Blueberry hemp, quinoa, amaranth, chia ancient grain gluten-free, vegan, free of refined sugar, non-GMO granola cereal by Purely Elizabeth. Whew. I’m exhausted. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But I tried it at the recent Natural Products Expo West (NPEW) anyway and loved it. Some granolas are too “cardboardy” for me or they taste like I’m being punished for having a Pop-Tart in the mid-70s, but this one was super-fly! Oh, I don’t eat granola plain; I always have it with vanilla yogurt.
We met the delightful Annelies of Attune Foods (she’s a social media pro and poet) and she sent us some cereals to try. I ordered the Erewhon Rice Twice (four ingredients total) thinking my younger son might like it. “Might” was the wrong word – he ate the whole box in 2 days and I never actually got to try it. He took me at my word when I said it was for him! With my older son in mind I got the Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice with Mixed Berries. I don’t go for cereals with berries, but I was desperate for something sweetish one afternoon and tried some. Joke’s on me because I liked it. And… the cereal that I was sure I’d love wasn’t actually me after all. The Uncle Sam Honey Almond has wheat berries, almonds, flax seed, and honey – all ingredients I like – yet I preferred the two Erewhon cereals. No moral to this story, but I do hope you’ll try new things! Especially cereals that are non-GMO!
I’m going to put in a mention here of the PB Granola from Pure Bliss Eats because I really “get into it.” To find out why I have that comment in quotation marks, you’ll have to watch this Granola, Yogurt & Cookie Monster video till the end!
Now I’m turning this over to my sister, who is slowly coming to realize I’ve been right all along about eating foods with recognizable ingredients!
Kymberly: When we were growing up, our mom bought only the non-sugary, “healthy” cereals and she made us eat breakfast every day. (Thanks mom!) No Sugar Pops for us, (until college when I went on a sugary cereal rebellion rampage). Maybe that is why I grew up to appreciate good cereal and value breakfast. For decades I have happily started my day with cereal and just the right amount of milk poured at the last minute to keep the cereal crispy. Cereal connoisseurs, you know what I’m talking about. So imagine how tough it’s been to read all the news about carbs–especially cereal–not being the ideal way to start the day. I am doing well about adding more protein to my morning. (Guess what? Kay’s Naturals offers a line of protein cereals if you are going low carb). But I was not ready to say good-bye to one of my fave food categories. As well, I am trying to make more socially conscious, long term healthy food decisions, maybe like many of you. Fortunately cereal is the perfect way to END the day. Squeee!
Isn’t it true that we make purchase decisions based on a combination of the following:
- allergies or food sensitivities (gluten-free, peanut-free, or soy-free, for instance)
- social or political beliefs (Non-GMO, locally sourced, organic, company donates to causes, sustainability)
- value system (vegan, vegetarian)
- nutritional or health value
So at some level what tastes deee-lish to me and meets my criteria may not be relevant to you. What is key to note is that NO MATTER WHAT drives your cereal shopping decisions, you will find you have lots of options today that did not exist even three years ago. If you wanted an organic, no-sugar cereal, for example, you had to sacrifice taste, price or variety at some level.
Not no mo’! As we sampled our way through the NPEW, talked with company reps, read ingredients, met company leaders, we revamped our whole awareness of what is out there waiting for all of us! Good stuff that is good for you and good for the planet. Some of what I tried and liked:
Attune Foods‘ Uncle Sam Toasted Whole Wheat Berry Flakes & Flaxseed (10g fiber, less than 1g sugar, 7g protein) With Attune’s cereals, what you see is what you get– no hidden or mystery ingredients. Great mixed with Nature’s Path Love Crunch Premium Organic Granola if you like a hint of sweetness. Every bag of Love Crunch you buy, Nature’s Best will donate an equal amount to food banks in food or cash up to $1 million. (Non-GMO)
We met the CEO of Kind (on the shuttle bus one morning, of all places. You never know who’s sitting next to you at these gigs) and found him to be dedicated to making a positive corporate difference as well. I tried and enjoyed his Kind Maple Walnut with Chia and Quinoa (Non-GMO and Gluten Free even though I have no gluten issues.)
I also love hot cereal. Bring it on hot or cold, in yogurt, with lactose free milk, with a milk substitute (See our review of milk and milk substitutes) or as a crunchy snack on its own. So I tried Bob’s Red Mill Cinnamon Raisin Granola which does well hot or cold.
If you want an organic option to Honey O’s or Cheerios try Cascadian Farm Organic Oats and Honey Granola Certified Organic cereal.
And a spiffy insider tip if you like blueberries–throw in some OMG (Organic Meets Good) Maqui Berry Antioxidant Powder for both the anti-oxidant benefit and for the double-down blueberry taste.
If you take a trip down the cereal aisle of your favorite grocery store you will find many other healthy options missing from this very short list. And that’s the point! Skip the stuff that lists “sugar” as the first ingredient and look elsewhere. You will find something to meet your cereal wish list without any sacrifice. Snack on!
Disclosure: 1) We received free samples from most of the above listed companies as the sole compensation for this post. All opinions are strictly our own. 2) Kymberly is now going to make a big bowl of cereal for her evening snack.