Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Have Milk, Need (Healthy) Cereal

With the widespread availability of non-dairy milks these days, cereal is a basic food product that those with dairy allergies can now keep in their diets. However, if you are also allergic to nuts, the selection of healthier cereals to chose from suddenly dwindles. (By healthier cereals, I mean those that do not contain a high sugar content, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors/flavors, or partially hydrogenated oils. There are actually quite a few allergen-free cereals that contain these ingredients, but keeping the goal of a nutritious diet in mind, I will not be looking at those.)

In the healthy cereal realm, there are quite a few cereals that contain nuts and sometimes dairy ingredients such as yogurt. What used to be a simple task of picking out a box of cereal sometimes becomes a drawn out exercise of going down the entire cereal aisle reading and re-reading labels. What makes it a bit more cumbersome is that a certain variety of one brand's cereal may contain unsafe ingredients, while a similarly named cereal in another brand does not. This is especially true with granola-based cereals. However, if you're patient, you will find that there are actually several healthier, allergy-friendly cereal options out there. Here are a few that our family commonly eats:

Kid-Friendly Cereals

  • Cheerios - A classic. I think everybody knows what these are.
  • Joe's O's by Trader Joes- Trader Joe's version of Cheerios.
  • Clifford Crunch by Cascadian Farm - An organic whole grain cereal that is fortified with calcium, iron, and a bunch of vitamins. Also contains a decent amount of fiber (5g) and has a relatively low sugar content compared to other kid cereals.
  • Gorilla Munch by EnviroKidz - An organic cereal made from corn meal. I think it's supposed to be a much healthier version of Cap'n Crunch.
  • Shredded Spoonfuls by Barbara's Bakery - A multigrain, lightly sweet cereal that looks like Chex.

Other (even healthier) Cereals

  • Flax Plus by Nature's Path - An organic multibran cereal that boasts 7g fiber and 500mg omega-3. If you are sensitive to seeds as well as nuts, you may want to avoid this as this contains flaxseed.
  • Kashi GO LEAN by Kashi - 13g protein and 10g fiber. Also note here that the seven whole grains that Kashi puts into most of their products contains sesame, so if you are sensitive to seeds, avoid this one too. If you are ok with sesame, many of Kashi's other cereals are dairy, nut and egg-free as well.

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