Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hot Cereal Wrap-up

 Pictured: Greek Yogurt, Banana,
and Flax Oatmeal

Hot cereal is a nutritious way to warm up on a cold winter morning. Breakfast should be filling and for most of us ~300 calories (more if you are active). There are many options of hot cereal out there. Depending on your health goals and taste preferences you might choose one over another. Here are some popular varieties: Steel cut outs, regular oatmeal, cream of rice, cream of wheat (Farina), multi-grain hot cereal.  

Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber which helps you feel full and can help lower your cholesterol. The steel cut variety is the least processed and has a much heartier texture compared to traditional oats. 

Oats do not contain gluten, but can be cross-contaminated. If you have celiac disease I recommend using a certified gluten-free oat like Bob’s Red Mill. Cream of rice is another gluten-free option!


See how your hot cereal stacks up…

Nutritionals
(½ cup cooked)
Steel-cut Oats
Rolled Oats
Sweetened Instant Oatmeal
Cream of Wheat
(plain)
Cream of Rice
(plain)
Calories
140
75
130
120
160
Fat (g)
2.5
1
1.5
0
0
Carbs (g)
27
13
31
23
36
Sugar (g)
0
0
12
0
0
Fiber (g)
6
2
3
1
0
Protein (g)
4
3
3
4
3
Sodium (mg)
0
0
185
85
0

After looking at the numbers I think it is easy to see that steel-cut or traditional rolled oats are a top pick (the fiber is what makes us feel full and keeps blood sugar stable. Buying in bulk versus the packages is  cost-effective if you are watching your budget.

Be sure to measure with measuring cups for correct portions! 
1/4 cup dry=1/2 cup cooked 

The nutrition for your cereal can vary a lot depending on the type of toppings you may use. I encourage some protein (for extra staying-power), healthy fats, and limited added sugars. Limit the use of sweeteners (maple syrup, honey, regular/brown sugar) as they provide calories with little nutritional value.

Reccommended Toppings

Fats/Proteins                                                  Fiber/Sweeteners
1-2 Tbsp chopped nuts                         ¼ cup fresh or frozen berries
1 Tbsp peanut butter                                         1 Tbsp dried fruit
1 Tbsp ground flax seed                                    ½ banana
2 Tbsp 0% Greek Yogurt                                 ¼ cup chopped apple
1-2 Tbsp whey protein
1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

Add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to spice it up!
Make with milk or dairy alternative (soy, rice, almond, coconut, hemp milk) for additional protein and calcium/vitamin D!

Pre-portioned Packets (Instant Oatmeal)
You may choose this variety because they are easy and the portion control is done for you. You know the exact nutrition facts, making it easy to count carbohydrates or calories. The downside? Many of these are packed with sugar (empty calories), sodium, and other additives.

Best Choices:
-Go for “regular” and flavor it yourself using fresh or frozen fruit, cinnamon, or your favorite artificial sweetener.
-Look for lower sugar or no-sugar added varieties.
-Some varieties add whey for extra protein (Quaker Weight Control, Kashi products)

Going for a savory breakfast? 
Add 2 Tbsp of your favorite shredded cheese and toss some beans, chopped vegetables, or salsa in. Instant Satisfaction.

What is your favorite way to have hot cereal? 


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