Cereal That’s Snacking-Good
Many commercial breakfast cereals provide less fiber and more sugar than people realize. The ones kids love best can be the worst offenders. Many of them are loaded with sugar and provide skimpy amounts of other good nutrition.
Look carefully, however, and at the supermarket as well as in natural food stores, you can find a selection of cold cereals that are good choices. Along with whole grains, a number of them provide at least 4 grams of fiber, as much as in a bowl of oatmeal. Those including bran or other ingredients can contain as much as 10 grams of fiber.
I grew up eating unsweetened cereals for breakfast – they didn’t taste great to the kid I was, but my mother forbid any others. In my case, as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. By the time I started shopping for my own household, the sugary cereals I used to see other kids eat simply tasted far too sugary for me. Now, the natural sweetness of simple kamut or spelt flakes and cereals made with other naked whole grain cereals suit me just fine. I prefer adding cut-up fresh fruit or to toss in my own selection of dried fruit and nuts.
I also love to snack on cereal, and even to dive into a double-size serving as a comforting dinner. The challenge is that many natural cereals suited to snacking, particularly granolas, are loaded with fat. Yes, the type of fat is oil, which is unsaturated and free of trans-fats. And the sweetening is honey, maple syrup or agave. But whatever the source, calories are calories and they still count. So I set out below to make a crunchy, snackable cereal snack with great taste and reasonably balanced nutrition.
This is the result. Its combination of complex carbs and fiber plus protein and fat provides what nutritional experts recommend for avoiding blood sugar spikes and keeping even energy. I just hope you won’t find it too irresistible to consume just one portion at a time.
Whole Wheat and Dried Fruit Crunch
– Makes 8 servings of 3/4 cup each.
- 1 large egg white, at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cane or white sugar, divided
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2/3 cup sliced almonds
- 3 cups whole-grain breakfast flakes, such as seven grain, spelt or kamut
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 2 Tbsp. raw sunflower seeds
In small bowl, whisk egg white with 2 tablespoons of sugar, and salt, until blended. Set aside.
Place rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cover baking sheet with foil.
Spread almonds in even layer. Roast 4 minutes, stir, and continue roasting until golden, 4 minutes longer. Transfer nuts to plate and cool to room temperature. Leave foil on baking sheet and coat with cooking spray, then set aside.
In large mixing bowl, combine toasted almonds, cereal, raisins, cranberries and sunflower seeds. Add egg white mixture. Using fork, mix until all flakes are coated and look moist, 1 minute. Spread Crunch mixture on prepared baking sheet in even 8-inch by 10-inch layer. Push in any stray flakes, fruit or nuts at edges. Sprinkle remaining 2 teaspoons sugar over Crunch.
Bake Crunch for 25 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet. Lift Crunch from baking sheet in chunks and bits, peeling away foil. Some will break off into separate flakes. In airtight container, Whole-Wheat and Dried Fruit Crunch will keep at room temperature for 2 days, longer in dry weather.
Per serving: 165 calories, 5 g total fat (0.4 g saturated fat), 27 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 3.3 g dietary fiber, 198 mg sodium.
“Something Different” is written for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) by Dana Jacobi, author of The Joy of Soy and recipe creator for AICR’s Stopping Cancer Before It Starts.
AICR offers a Nutrition Hotline (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. This free service allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides a range of education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. It has provided more than $86 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.