Plus: a nutritionist's tips for jazzing up your bowl with other flavorful ingredients.
I don't need to tell you that cereal can be a serious sugar bomb. Certain brands can pack an entire day's worth of added sugar in a single bowl. But luckily for cereal lovers, there are also options on supermarket shelves that don't contain a speck of the sweet stuff. Here are six, along with simple ways to sweeten them yourself (if you like), or jazz them up with other healthful, flavorful ingredients.
Editor's note: If you're ready to ditch added sugar altogether, sign up for our 14-Day Sugar Detox! The challenge kicks off Monday.
Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.
Arrowhead Mills Puffed Millet
Puffs are a hot nutrition trend. They’re crunchy, but their airiness makes them light and lower in calories than other more dense cereal shapes. A one cup portion of this gluten-free cereal provides just 60 calories, half a gram of fat, 11 grams of carb with one as fiber, and a few grams of protein.
Instead of pouring sugar on top, eat them with a sweetened vanilla almond milk (most contain just a teaspoon or two worth of added sugar for a full cup) and a dash of cinnamon, topped with fresh berries and chopped nuts.
Eden Brown Rice Flakes
This gluten-free oatmeal alternative comes in flake form, made from whole grain brown rice. Because the flakes are roasted and rolled, you can eat them as is, or add hot water to enjoy them warm. A quarter cup provides 20 grams of carb, a gram and a half of protein, and less than a gram of fat, along with some magnesium and B vitamins.
Stir the flakes into plain grass-fed organic Greek yogurt or unsweetened plant yogurt, with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, a quarter teaspoon of fresh grated ginger, a medium chopped green apple, dash of apple pie spice, and a quarter cup of chopped walnuts. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy on-the-go in the A.M.
Erewhon Corn Flakes
The only ingredients in this box are organic milled corn and sea salt. A one cup portion provides 130 calories, 30 grams of carb, and 3 grams of protein.
Sprinkling this gluten-free cereal with one packet of Sugar in the Raw adds 5 grams of sugar, which is half the sugar content of a smaller three quarters cup portion of Frosted Flakes.
Uncle Sam’s Original Wheat Berry Flakes
While this cereal contains a touch of barley malt, a three-quarters cup portion provides less than 1 gram of sugar, along with 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 38 grams of carb with an impressive 10 grams as fiber. The only ingredients are: whole wheat kernels, whole flaxseed, salt, and barley malt.
To add a little flavor to your bowl, mix a quarter teaspoon of pure vanilla extract into your milk, and stir in finely chopped ripe banana so you get a little bit of natural sweetness with each spoonful.
Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs
This puff is made from a mixture of puffed wheat, brown rice, oats, barley, triticale, rye, buckwheat, and sesame seeds, with no additional ingredients. A one cup portion contains 70 calories, half a gram of fat, 15 grams of carb with 1 as fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
To sweeten without added sugar, finely chop a few dates to add to the puffs, along with a dusting of non-Dutched cocoa powder, and a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds for bonus protein and minerals.
If you love just-add-water hot cereal, but could do without all the surplus sugar, this is your new (gluten-free) go-to. The ingredients include rolled oats along with almonds, pecans, dried wild blueberries, dried cranberries, dried strawberries, dried raspberries, dried marion blackberries, and natural flavor. A single-serve container provides 5 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 35 grams of carb, with 7 as fiber and 2 as sugar (again, no added sugar).
The fruit likely adds enough sweetness, but for more flavor and extra antioxidants, try stirring in a few chopped fresh mint leaves, or a quarter teaspoon of fresh lemon zest.