How To

How To Stay Healthy While Mostly Just Eating Cereal

Cereal — it’s convenient, it’s cheap, and it’s pretty darn good. Boxes upon boxes take up entire grocery store aisles, their colors and flavors generating rainbows of temptation. College dining halls make it even easier, supplying disposable tubes full of the stuff. One turn of the knob and voila! Breakfast (or lunch or dinner, really) is served.

And really, nowadays, it’s hard to eat a bowl of Lucky Charms without thinking about all the stuff out there on the nutritional shortcomings of your favorite breakfast food. But worry no more, there’s a way around this. You can still get all the nutrients you need (and all the flavor you crave) by jazzing up your bowl.

Using the best-selling cereals in the US, here are nine ways to make cereal a little healthier and get all the goodness you need.

Raisin Bran

What it has: carbohydrates, fiber

What it’s missing: protein, healthy fat, vitamins

How to fix it: To add protein and shake up the flavor, replace the milk with ½ cup liquid kefir yogurt instead (which also takes care of your healthy fats). Sprinkle maca powder for added vitamins and a butterscotch-like flavor.

Lucky Charms

What it has: carbohydrates

What it’s missing: fiber, protein, healthy fat, vitamins

How to fix it: Lucky Charms is one of those cereals where you can’t really do too much to it; the charms dominate the flavor. To maintain that marshmallow-y integrity, take care of your protein and B12 needs by using ½ cup soy milk as a base. Toss in 2 tablespoons slivered almonds for good fats and shake on some shaved coconut for fiber. 

Special K 

What it has: carbohydrates, protein, vitamins

What it’s missing: fiber, healthy fat

How to fix it: Thankfully, Special K already has some nutritional strengths — one serving delivers 100 percent of your daily recommended vitamin B12 & B6 intake — so the only things you need to add to round it out to a full meal are fiber and some healthy fat. Enjoy your cereal with some skim milk, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, and since Special K usually already has some fruit in it, add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed for some added fiber. 

Froot Loops 

What it has: carbohydrates

What it’s missing: fiber, protein, healthy fat, vitamins

How to fix it: Like Lucky Charms, Froot Loops have a distinct flavor that you don’t want to mess with too much. Instead of throwing in a bunch of wild toppings, keep it neutral. Enjoy your Froot Loops over ⅓ cup protein-packed full fat Greek yogurt instead of milk (which also gives you biotin and B2) and stir in a tablespoon of chia seeds for fiber.

Frosted Mini Wheats

What it has: carbohydrates, protein, fiber

What it’s missing: healthy fat, vitamins

How to fix it: Frosted Mini Wheats are actually already pretty healthy (and can take you right back to your childhood), so shake things up and give them a nutty flavor by substituting ½ cup Protein Nut milk, shaking on powdered peanut butter (like PB2), and throwing in a tablespoon of walnuts.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch 

What it has: carbohydrates

What it’s missing: fiber, protein, healthy fat, vitamins

How to fix it: Cinnamon Toast Crunch is just begging for a fall-themed makeover. Toss in a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds for protein and good fat, and by adding ½ cup of roasted sweet potato chunks like these, you can take care of vitamin and fiber needs (don’t knock it 'til you try it).

Honey Bunches of Oats

What it has: carbohydrates

What it’s missing: fiber, protein, healthy fat, vitamins

How to fix it: The slightly sweet, warm flavor of this cereal pairs perfectly with chopped bits of apple, which gives you fiber, Vitamin C, and a variety of antioxidants. For protein, toss in ¼ cup of cooked quinoa (the texture will surprise and intrigue you).

Frosted Flakes

What it has: carbohydrates

What it’s missing: fiber, protein, healthy fat, vitamins

How to fix it: For a chocolate-themed health kick that works so well with these simple flakes, stir ½ scoop chocolate protein powder into skim milk, a tablespoon of chopped hazelnuts for healthy fat, and a dash of cacao powder for fiber, iron, manganese, and a variety of other nutrients that your body needs.

Honey Nut Cheerios

What it has: carbohydrates

What it’s missing: fiber, protein, healthy fat, vitamins

How to fix it: Cheerios really are a culinary canvas when it comes to making healthy additions. While the combinations are virtually limitless, one that complements the subtle honey flavor is the following: ½ cup skim milk, a ¼ cup of fiber-rich blueberries, ¼ cup of raspberries for Vitamin C, and a tablespoon of dark chocolate shavings for healthy fats that will keep you going throughout the morning. 

Additional Suggestions 

Fiber: berries, apples, chia seeds, cocoa powder, wheat germ, oats

Protein: hemp seeds, tofu, peanut butter powder

Good Fat: cottage cheese, pistachios

Vitamins: fruit, goji berries, matcha tea powder, dried apricot, lentils, camu camu

All in all, there’s no reason to feel guilty eating cereal for every breakfast; the options for health-ifying it are virtually limitless. So get yourself a bowl, get creative, and enjoy the breakfast you love the most!