Breakfast Options

Sally Squires
Monday, May 19, 2008

More than a quarter of the food ads targeting children and teens are for cereal, according to a 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation report. This means a lot of parent-kid negotiation in the grocery store.

The good news is that there are a growing number of healthier options that can please both without a big bite out of the budget.

In New England, the Hannaford Bros. grocery chain hired scientists to develop a math formula to rate 25,500 products. Based on nutrition, products get zero to three "Guiding Stars":

Kashi Vive Toasted Graham and Vanilla cereal and Post Shredded Wheat earned the top rating, three stars, as they are good sources of vitamins, minerals, whole grain and fiber. They're low in unhealthy saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sodium and added sugars.

Plain Cheerios snagged two stars, as did Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats and Cascadian Farms'Clifford Crunch,, which contains about half the sugar and five times the fiber of better-known Quaker Oats' Cap'n Crunch. (One surprise: General Mills' MultiGrain Cheerios have more added sugar than plain Cheerios. And are twice as expensive.)

Other healthier sweet options to start the day include Kashi Honey Puffs, which delivers about half the sugar and twice the fiber of better known -- and zero starred -- Cocoa Puffs from General Mills.

Nature's Path Envirokidz Organic Amazon Frosted Flakes provides about twice the fiber and half the added sugar of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. Plus, 1 percent of Envirokidz sales are donated to help endangered species.

For good nutrition on a budget, Quaker Instant Oatmeal earned three stars. Or make a big batch of hearty, steel-cut oatmeal on the weekend. Freeze individual portions, then heat in a microwave for a fast breakfast during the week. Top with nuts and raisins. Cost: pennies per serving.

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