Tag Archives: grains

What to Make with Cereal

Photo by Peter Lewicki on Unsplash cereal strawberries milk
Photo by Peter Lewicki on Unsplash

Cereal is a delicious, nutritious food that offers a big bang for the buck. Ready-to-eat cereal with dairy milk provides a bowl of nutrients for an average of 50 cents a serving on average! Cereal is for more than pouring into a bowl and dousing with milk, however. You can eat it any time of day and in many ways. Check out what to make with cereal – you’ll be surprised at how creative my dietitian friends are!

Why cereal is a healthy choice for family meals 

Whether it’s whole grain, or refined, cereal supplies energy-producing carbohydrate. In addition, it can be a source of other nutrients that often go missing in the diet.

Whole grain choices offer the most fiber, vitamin E, and selenium, but they are not usually enriched.

Refined grains are missing one or more of their three key parts – the bran, the germ, or the endosperm. Refining a grain results in some nutrient loss. However, most refined grains are enriched.

Enriched grains contain additional B vitamins, including folic acid, and the mineral iron. Iron and folic acid don’t occur naturally in significant amounts in whole grains, but they are welcome additions to refined grains, especially cereal.

Health experts recommend that women in their childbearing years get adequate folic acid every day. Adequate folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects during the first month of pregnancy. A serving of enriched cereal can provide as much as 100% of the Daily Value for folic acid.

The added iron in enriched cereal is a good source of this nutrient. Iron is needed to prevent iron deficiency anemia, which can result in long lasting fatigue, and other health problems.

Why it’s OK to eat refined grains

Does eating cereal cause weight gain?

You may be surprised to hear that grains of all kinds, including cereal, can be good for your waistline. An eating pattern that includes higher amounts of a variety of grains is associated with a healthier body weight.

Choose cereals with the least added sugar, which contributes additional calories. Save sugar-laden cereals for a treat, not an everyday food.

How to eat less added sugar

What to make with cereal for family meals 

Since I think cereal is good any time of day, I’ve divided up the delicious healthy recipes with cereal into two groups: sweet and savory. Enjoy them at any meal, or for a snack!

Sweet healthy recipes to make with cereal

Coconut Fruit Tart by Live Best

Coconut Fruit Tart by Live Best

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Nachos by Jill Weisenberger

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Nachos by Jill Weisenberger

Strawberry Banana Breakfast Popsicles by The Nutritionist Reviews

Strawberry Banana Breakfast Popsicles by The Nutritionist Reviews

Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola by Foods with Judes

Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola by Foods with Judes

No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Bread by Better Is the New Perfect

No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Bread by Better Is the New Perfect

Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites by Amy Gorin

Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites by Amy Gorin

Flourless Milk & Cereal Pancakes by Sinful Nutrition

Flourless Milk & Cereal Pancakes by Sinful Nutrition

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Trail Mix by National Peanut Board

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Trail Mix by National Peanut Board

Grab-and-Go Granola Bars by Liz’s Healthy Table

Grab-and-Go Granola Bars by Liz's Healthy Table

Protein Packed Chocolate Cereal Bowl by Nutrition Starring You

Protein Packed Chocolate Cereal Bowl by Nutrition Starring You

Kid Friendly Smoothie Bowl by The Crowded Table

Kid Friendly Smoothie Bowl by The Crowded Table

Vanilla Maple Chia Yogurt Parfait by Julie Harrington

Vanilla Maple Chia Yogurt Parfait by Julie Harrington

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars by Better Is the New Perfect

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars by Better Is the New Perfect

Savory healthy recipes to make with cereal

Black Bean Breakfast Burrito Bowl by The Grateful Grazer

Black Bean Breakfast Burrito Bowl by The Grateful Grazer

Crispy Hummus Mashed Potato Balls by Tasty Balance Nutrition

Crispy Hummus Mashed Potato Balls by Tasty Balance Nutrition

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn Snack Mix from The Lean Green Bean

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn Snack Mix from The Lean Green Bean

Savory Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Fried Egg by Jessica Levinson

Savory Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Fried Egg by Jessica Levinson

Wheaties Oven Baked Ravioli by My Menu Pal

Wheaties Oven Baked Ravioli by My Menu Pal

Fonio Recipe by Laurel Ann Nutrition

Crunchy Cereal-Filled Waffles by Bonnie Taub-Dix:

easy family meals to make with cereal photo credit: Bonnie Taub-Dix

Why It’s OK to Eat Refined Grains

Chopped tomatoes, basils and herbs on top of sliced baguette.

You love white bread, pasta, and rice, but given the push by nutrition experts to increase whole grain intake, you may feel bad for preferring, and eating, the refined kind. You can stop feeling guilty now! Research has discovered why it’s OK to eat refined grains. 

Refined grains vs. whole grains 

Refined grains undergo milling, a process that removes the bran and germ from the whole grain. As a result of milling, refined grains have a finer texture and a longer shelf life. The downside is that milling removes some of the fiber, iron, and many B vitamins found in whole grains.

Golden wheat in the field on a sunny day.

Refined grains undergo milling, but that’s not the whole story.

Good news about refined grains

Refined grains are often fingered for contributing to chronic health problems, but a 2019 study has found they are not to blame. Research shows that when refined grains are taken as a group, there is no evidence linking them with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, or dying early.

Perhaps the company refined grains keep is the problem. The influence of refined grains on health are often lumped in with the effects of a person’s overall diet, which may not be particularly nutritious. 

Balanced eating patterns matter most when it comes to avoiding chronic health conditions. It’s likely that a steady diet of saturated fat, sodium, added sugar, and inadequate fiber is more likely to blame for common illnesses than a piece or two of white bread and a serving of rice every day. 

 

Bowl of white pasta topped with shrimp and chopped parsley.

If you love white pasta, it’s OK to make it part of a balanced eating plan.

Nutrients found in refined grains

Most refined grains sold in the U.S. are made from enriched flour. That means they supply added iron, and four B vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid.  Americans get much of their iron and B vitamins from enriched grains, such as breakfast cereal, bread, and pasta.

Folic acid, a B vitamin that’s added to refined grains, is very important to help prevent neural tube defects (NTD) that occur early in pregnancy, when a woman may not know she is expecting. Since the US started requiring folic acid fortification in 1998, the prevalence of babies being born with a NTD had decreased by 35%.  

Of course, all refined grains are not created equal; some are more nutritious than others.  Bread, cereal, pasta, and rice provide more nutrients than cookies, cake, and chips, which most people should save for treats. 

Small cupcakes with different colored frosting.

Cupcakes, cake, candy, cookies, and other sweets are treats, and not necessarily everyday foods.

Is starch good for you?

Shunning grain foods is fashionable, but I don’t advise it. In addition to vitamins and minerals, grains contain complex carbohydrates your body needs.

Resistant starch is found in foods such as white rice, white pasta, and potatoes.  Bacteria in the gut feed on resistant starch and produce compounds that support gut health and overall health.

Retrograde starch is a type of resistant starch formed when starchy foods, such as rice and pasta, are cooked and then cooled. Cooked and cooled grains have more resistant starch than when warm.  Reheating cooked and cooled foods does not decrease retrograde starch content. 

Turkey lettuce with avocado and tomato on white bread.

White bread is an important source of iron and B vitamins.

How many servings of grains should you eat every day?

While it’s OK to eat refined grains, people who follow a 2,000-calorie eating plan require at least three servings of whole grains out of a total daily suggested intake of six grain servings

Experts suggest eating half your grains as whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, breakfast cereal, and brown rice.  Whole grains generally contain more fiber and higher levels of certain nutrients than their more refined counterparts, and they may help with weight control. 

Bottom line on grains

There’s room for refined grains, such as white rice, bread, and pasta, in a healthy diet. Save sweets, crackers, and chips for occasional indulgences, however.

Overall, a nutritious, enjoyable eating plan matters most for supporting health. No single food, or food group, is problematic for most people. 

why it's OK to eat white bread, white pasta, and white rice

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