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Nutrition Smarts

Great Starts

We've all heard it—breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many of us feel too rushed in the morning to make good choices. We'll show you how to fit a healthy breakfast into your busy schedule.

For many kids and adults cereal is a breakfast favorite. It's quick to eat, portable and requires little or no prep time. Here are some tips on how to choose a breakfast cereal with the most nutritional bang.

Sometimes it seems as if the cold and hot cereal options are endless. There are likely over one hundred different choices at your supermarket. Think about serving cereal beyond breakfast. Kids will tell you it makes a great snack. To save money, check out the house brands. The savings might be as much as 40 percent.

What to Look For
High-fiber, low-fat choices

Some cereals have as little as 1 gram of fat per serving. Make whole-grain cereals a shopping priority. There are all kinds of healthy choices, such as rolled oats and whole wheat. And with packages of instant hot cereal, breakfast can be ready in a flash. For granola fans, there are fat-free options and granola made from whole grains. Check the label for products that contain 3 grams of fiber or more per serving.

Where to Watch Out
Cereals that contain brown sugar, corn syrup, honey, or high fructose corn syrup are more like candy than anything else. Make sure that they are not listed among the first few ingredients. Less than 5 grams of sugar (about 1 teaspoon per serving) in the cereal is considered okay. Check the ingredients to avoid added fats such as partially hydrogenated oils. Remember that most granolas are high in fat and sugar, so check the label. Breakfast toaster pastries have little nutrition and are high in calories and fat.

Once you have your breakfast foods on hand, you still have to make time to eat them. Here are some timesaving tips for getting breakfast on the table with enough time to enjoy it.

Healthy Timesavers: 'Twas the Night Before Breakfast
Enlist the whole family's help to get a head start on breakfast, then enjoy it together as the sun comes up.

  • Set the table with placemats, napkins, silverware, dishes, and nonperishable foods. It's nice to add a few flowers to the table.
  • Get out the equipment you will use, such as a frying pan and mixing bowls.
  • Try making cooked cereals and refrigerating them overnight. The next morning, zap them for a minute in the microwave.
  • Make ahead and freeze or refrigerate muffins. Reheat in the oven for a few minutes.

Be creative: Mix together a variety of whole-grain cereals, place the mixture in a bowl on the table, and cover with plastic wrap.

If you're taking the kids with you, we have some advice on how to make the trip a great time for everyone.

Family Fun—Child-Friendly Shopping
Shopping with children can be a fun and educational experience. Even though food stores often display tempting goodies at kids' eye level, there is much you can do to make these trips positive. Here's how to make it happen:

  • It's best to bring children to the store after snacktime or naptime.
  • Before you go, talk about the ground rules—what they can and cannot buy.
  • Encourage them to be a part of the experience. Talk about what you are buying and why. If they are old enough, give them a list to shop for or specific things to search for.
  • Have the children pick their favorite fruit to put on their morning cereal and their favorite vegetable for dinner that night.

Here are a few delicious ways to have a Great Adventure in Food for breakfast:

Banana Fruit Smoothies
Alpine Muesli with Red and Green Grapes
Golden Grain Griddle Cakes
with Winter Fruit Sizzle


   Source: Copyright 2000 by Ellen Haas.
From the book "Great Adventures in Food" By Ellen Haas.
Used with permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.

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