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HomeHealth & Behavior

Best breakfast cereals

From Cheerios to granola, seven ways to get your child's school day off to a healthy start.

By GreatSchools Staff

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Oats

Humble cereal grains, take note: Sometimes a classic can't be beat. Available in both rolled and (classier) steel-cut varieties, oats are healthy — not to mention dirt-cheap.

They're ubiquitous too. When you're shopping, check the bulk bins of health food and upscale grocery stores, where they often sell for around a dollar a pound. (Compare that to the price of boxed cereals, and it's not hard to see why the breakfast cereal industry has 45% profit margins.) Steel-cut oats take about 20 minutes to cook; rolled oats, roughly 5; and "quick," about 1.

For rolled, try Quaker ($5.49 for 42 oz, or $0.13/oz), and for steel-cut, try McCann's ($7.69 for 28 oz, or $0.27/oz) or Bob's Red Mill ($5.49 for 24 oz, or $0.23/oz). Also available in bulk (steel-cut go for $1.49/lb., or $0.09/oz, at Whole Foods).

Ingredients: Oats

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

02/9/2010:
" My son use to love this box of oats when I mix it with the flavor one (1:1) and cook with milk. Lately he ate less may be cos I substituted the oats with multigrain. What he ate a lot lately was homemade muffin with ham, cheese and spinach. It takes only 1 hr to prepare a dozen. I could bake it at night and freeze the rest for later days."
02/8/2010:
"I'm all for healthy foods, but come on! My kids won't touch any of these except for Cheerios-and I've tried to raise them to eat a variety of tastes, textures, etc. I'm a very healthy eater and wouldn't eat most of these. Let's face it, most of them taste like bark. Couldn't you give us any breakfast choices that don't involve wheaty, granola-ish cereals? I'm disappointed in this article. Bad."
02/8/2010:
"My children (ages 5, and twins 3) LOVE oatmeal. I tried to get them to eat cold cereal a few times, but they wanted their oatmeal. Quaker had alot of different varieties to choose from and once in a while I put whipped cream on top for a 'treat'. They go crazy over it!!"
02/8/2010:
"Well, that's good to know. But' the last few cereals are ridiculously expensive and times are hard right now. I guess I better start collecting cereal coupons. Some of these cereals my daughter would probably eat."
02/4/2010:
"My son tries to protest but generally speaking he knows that he must eat what is put in front of him. I think starting them out young with this philosophy makes them better, healthier eaters."
02/4/2010:
"In reference to 2/2/2010 newsletter. Could Reese's Cereal, Pop Tarts, and Bagels be included as a 'best breakfast cereal'? Thanks"
02/4/2010:
"My son can't eat any of these cereals due to Celiac Disease. It might be good for you to promote other items for breakfast since wheat is truly not all that great for our bodies as it was meant for feeding animals and not humans."
02/4/2010:
"While these are a great idea, it doesn't do any good if your child won't eat them. My boys would rather go hungry than eat something they don't really like. It makes mornings really tough. We've settled for Fiber One pancakes and bacon. At least they get some protein and fiber and not so much sugar. I give them real maple syrup, which is sweet but at least natural. It's the best I can do."
02/4/2010:
"Cheerios are made with gentetically modified grain which makes them questionably wholesome."
02/4/2010:
"Our 3 and 5 year olds LOVE rolled oat oatmeal, especially when I add cinnamon and raisins and then serve it topped with sprinkles of brown sugar."
02/4/2010:
"I love oatmeal and I eat it every morning. Every child should eat it. It doesn't contain food coloring or sugar. May be eaten with milk or water it is still very healthy. Accompany your oatmeal either with fruits, raisins or plain honey! It makes me feel wonderful and it will make any child feel healthy and energetic all morning. I can stay away from food until lunch time easily!"
02/4/2010:
"Oats do not have the protein gluten in them, although you do have to buy certified gluten free oats to make sure there is no cross contamination. I've also found gluten-free granola in Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. "
02/4/2010:
"I found by not bringing the sugary cereal into the house, the oatmeal and shreddies were just right. My 14 yr old grandson still eats it as does his mother and aunt. "
02/3/2010:
"Sadly, none of the cereals are gluten free (free of wheat, rye, malt, barley or oats). Studies show that 1 in 133 people are afflicted with Celiac disease and must adhere to stringent dietary requirements."
02/3/2010:
"Actually my daughter eats rolled oats oatmeal every morning. I must admit she is 17 years old, so she's a little more mature about it. But I know some people who use apple juice to cook it in instead of water or milk. Brown sugar also helps. My fave is fresh fruit, especially strawberries and apples."
02/2/2010:
"With the exception of Cheerios, Can anyone actually get their kids to eat any of these? I've thrown away so much healthy expensive and stale cereal my wallet hurts."
02/2/2010:
"Mmmmmm...... Get the larger sized shredded wheat, put a pat of butter on top, add some milk and 1 tsp. of sugar or some honey, then nuke on high for 1.5 minutes. Nirvana! My son loves it! He says he's eating hay bales like horses..."
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