I think we can all relate to the childhood nostalgia of diving into a bowl of delicious, sugary (and totally unhealthy) cereal. It was the perfect, on-the-go meal before school and satisfied any and everyone's sweet tooth.
Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, Reese's Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch...The list is endless! As I've gotten older, it has occurred to me why these cereals are so good: they are loaded with added and refined sugars.
I don't know about you, but I simply cannot enjoy my childhood favorites like I used to (without feeling guilty, that is).
Regardless, I love cereal and consider it to be its own food group. You can bet that I am not about to give up on cereal, and neither should you. There are plenty of ways to make healthy, less sugary cereals tasty, and even a bit indulgent.
The trick is to think of your cereal like an ice cream sundae. Load it with toppings, and be amazed! I promise you that your healthy cereal will most definitely not taste like bland cardboard anymore. I mean, just look at this.
As a vegan, I prefer to use non-dairy milk products in my cereal. They are often a healthier alternative to dairy products. I find there is more of a selection and they come in a variety of flavors.
I recommend soy, almond, coconut, or oat milk for a creamy base. If you're feeling fancy, try the chocolate and vanilla flavors for some more pizazz.
If you're looking for a heartier meal to fill you up, try mixing yogurt with your cereal.
Soy, coconut, and almond yogurts are on par with traditional dairy yogurts in regards to taste and texture. Experiment with a cereal-and-yogurt parfait.
3. Dark Chocolate
Did you know chocolate is considered a superfood in moderation? Choose chocolate with a high cocoa content for maximum antioxidant benefits. Sprinkle on chocolate shavings, cacao nibs, or cocoa powder for a dessert-like effect.
4. Nut Butter
My motto is the more nut butter, the better. Choose natural almond, hazelnut, peanut, or cashew butter for added healthy unsaturated fats and protein.
For a low-fat option, choose peanut butter powder and mix with some water for the same, nutty taste. Not only will this combo fill you up, it will also satisfy that sweet and salty craving we all have.
If you aren't fond of nut butters, you can get the same benefits from regular nuts. Try a variety of pecans, cashews, peanuts, and almonds for extra crunch.
6. Fresh Fruit
I always loved berries and bananas in my cereal growing up. However, you can add any fruit you like! Kiwis, mangos, grapes, and peaches are all tasty options. To play with temperature, add a warm fruit compote or cool off with frozen fruit. Either way, the natural, sugary goodness of fruit satisfies any sugary cravings, while also being totally healthy.
7. Dried Fruit
Just like fresh fruit, dried fruit is a healthy option for sweetening up your cereal. Dried fruit has always reminded me a little bit of candy, but without the guilt. Just make sure your dried fruit is without refined sugars to keep it on the healthy side. Look for products sweetened with fruit juice, if possible.
And you do not have to stick solely to raisins or dried cranberries. Experiment with all flavors. My favorites are dried mango, pineapple, mango, and figs (mostly because they remind me of Fig Newtons). You can even experiment with some freeze-dried fruits for a more crunchy texture.
8. Jams and Jellies
If you're really digging the fruit theme, test out some jams or jellies to top your cereal with! For a healthier alternative, I like to use products sweetened by fruit juice.
For a tropical theme, pair pineapple or mango with coconut meat or dried coconut shavings. You can even match it with dark chocolate to resemble coconut macaroons.
10. Maple Syrup
If you still can't seem to satisfy that sweet tooth, drizzle a little bit of all natural maple syrup. It is less refined than the granulated sugars of highly processed cereals. If it's delicious on pancakes and waffles, it will blow your mind on cereal.
If you are craving something sweet, but want a healthier alternative to most sugars, agave has a lower glycemic index rating and will not spike your blood sugar as much.
We are all familiar with the addictive powers of coffee. The taste, the smell, the caffeine! But what business does it have in cereal? Try mixing your milk base with a splash of your favorite coffee for an espresso flavor. Mix with chocolate ingredients for some mocha madness.
Spices are the basis of any flavorful food, and can remind you of many tasty treats. You simply can't go wrong with some cinnamon to remind you of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I also enjoy nutmeg, cardamom, or even a dash of ginger.
14. Granola Bars
Crumble up some of your favorite granola bars over your heaping bowl of cereal. Many brands come in a variety of sweet and savory flavors that also add to the quality of texture in your healthy cereal.
15. Ice Cream
I know what you're thinking...Ice cream is NOT healthy (or a breakfast food). And maybe you're right, but there are healthier alternatives than the traditional dairy treats.
Try ice creams based with plant milks, or just blend frozen bananas together. The crunch of the cereal and the creaminess of ice cream complement each other perfectly.
Feel free to combine any number of these suggestions for a quick and satisfying breakfast (or lunch, or dinner). And while you're at it, go ahead and pour that second bowl...Because it's healthy, right?