Growing up we were NEVER the “cool family”. We never had fun cereal, junk food, or cable! Looking back I have no idea how we survived! Thank goodness for our friends, because we wanted our MTV! At the time I just figured my parents hated us and didn’t want us to enjoy ANYTHING in life. Turns out they actually loved us and just wanted the best for us. And guess what, guess who doesn’t have cable or buys the “fun cereal”? This mom! And all this time I thought I was doing right by my children. I assumed fortified cereals were good for them, much better than the stuff with all the sugar and dyes, right!?! Wrong!
Our adventure began 8 weeks ago. The standard in our home has always been cereal for breakfast. They would eat their bowl of cereal, beg for more because they were still hungry, be exhausted a half hour after eating their cereal, and also a tad cranky. I had always assumed that was just the way kids were then one weekend I made eggs and bacon. The children were not hungry after they ate the eggs & bacon, they were not tired a half hour later, and they were a joy to be around. My first thought was, what was in those eggs? Haha! My second thought was that there might actually be a correlation between the cereal and the children’s behavior. So for the next few mornings I alternated the cereal with eggs and/or steel cut oatmeal. And my findings were spot on, each time the children had cereal they were still hungry, cranky, and tired but when they had eggs and/or the oatmeal they were pleasant and full. But how could this be since I only purchased the “good for you cereal”, the fortified cereal with fiber and less sugar? So I did some research online and came across a few interesting articles.
It’s fortified with nutrients my children need, right?!
“Millions of children are ingesting potentially unhealthy amounts” of vitamin A, niacin and zinc, and fortified cereals are the leading source, said a new report from the Environmental Working Group, a Washington -based health research and advocacy firm.
A variety of health issues are at stake for children who consume too much vitamin A, zinc and niacin, like liver damage, abnormal immune function and short-term issues like rashes and vomiting, the report says.
It is loaded with fiber that should help make them feel full longer, right?!
11 of the 13 most heavily sugared children’s cereals feature marketing claims like “Good Source of Fiber” that suggest misleadingly that the products are healthful.
It contain less sugar than in the past, right?!
The lack of progress on the sugar front is discouraging. After reexamining the 84 children’s cereals assessed in 2011, EWG found that while the sugar content of 11 cereals decreased slightly (in 10 cases, by just one gram; in one case by an underwhelming two grams), all other cereals remained unchanged (except Frosted Mini-Wheats Big Bite, which actually upped its sugar content by 20 percent).
The report also highlights some particularly terrible cereals in its “Hall of Shame,” which includes 12 cereals that contain more than 50 percent sugar by weight. (Lieber’s Cocoa Frosted Flakes took home the insanity prize, packing 50g of sugar per serving; the cereal is 88 percent sugar by weight, delivering a whopping 167 percent of the recommended daily sugar intake for children in a single serving).
The more digging I did the more I found…..
GMOs: Most conventional cereals contain sugar and corn made from GMO products. Note that these same manufacturers create GMO free cereals for distribution overseas.
Annatto: This natural flavoring is now entering into controversy. According to WebMD, it can affect blood sugar levels so if your child has diabetes, please be aware of that. It also has been linked with allergies, and the Food Intolerance Network has gotten reports linking it to headaches and irritability. If you have a sensitive eater or a child prone to allergies, you may want to avoid this flavoring.
BHT is also a chemical additive and may be a possible ADHD trigger.
I probably could have gone on for days researching all the ways marketing had fooled me into believing I was doing the best by my kids’ health. I had read enough and witnessed with my own eyes the effect cereal had on my children. So what’s the solution? Make breakfast every morning? Who has the time? At least cereal was convenient…but at such a huge cost! I don’t want my children becoming diabetics because I couldn’t get out of bed to make them breakfast…I don’t need that kind of mommy guilt lurking over me! The solution, cookies, bars, & cakes! Yep, you read right!
I started by making these amazing cookies!! Here is the recipe I made them the night before and did not tell the children what was in them…for some reason the moment you say healthy kids won’t eat them! And they loved them! They even requested them for breakfast the next morning….then I let them in on my little secret. If the cookies could be this delicious what else was out there? Turns out A LOT!
Pancakes….Click here for the recipe
Bars……Click here for recipe (I did add a few chocolate chips)
Carrot Cake…..Click here for recipe
Breakfast burritos….we had leftovers from fajitas the night before so we simply added eggs and voila! Peppers, steak, mushrooms, guacamole, and eggs in homemade tortillas!
Before I knew it I had settled into a routine of cleaning up dinner, doing the dishes, and making breakfast. Because I know there is no way I can make these in the morning…but perhaps you are a better morning person than I and you like to just chill in the evenings…the key is to find what works best for you, no one knows you better than you!!
Added bonus…I put on a dress for Mother’s Day that was WAY to snug 2 months ago and guess what, IT FITS now! So apparently this eating healthier for breakfast is not only helping the kiddos but my waistline too. SCORE!! Bring on the cookies, cakes, and bars!
If this is the transformation for altering breakfast can you imagine the results if we altered lunch and dinner too? Baby steps! 😉