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Family Central: Lower-Sugar Kids’ Cereals

In a perfect world, I’d make my kids a healthy, balanced breakfast every morning. (Of course, in a really perfect world, my children would make their own breakfast, clean it up themselves, and then brush their teeth without prompting. But I digress.)

But real life – work, summer camp, early meetings  – too often gets in the way. So like a lot of parents, we often settle for what’s fast, easy, and they’ll actually eat. A simple bowl of cereal often fills the bill.

And maybe your kids eat oatmeal, or plain shredded wheat, but mine have yet to outgrow the sugary, branded stuff they advertise on Nickelodeon. Unfortunately, the sugar content in many of those chocolatey, fruity, marshmallow-y brands – up to 14 grams per serving! – is not what I’d really like them to ingest before heading out to start their day.

So I’ve been investigating the cereal aisles, looking for reasonable alternatives. Stuff they’ll eat without whining, but that won’t put them on a sugar high first thing in the morning. And I found you really need to read labels. Some organic, healthy-looking alternatives, especially granolas, have just as much sugar as more commercial varieties.

That, said, some we’re trying this summer:

Kashi Honey Sunshine Cereal Pillows: Not only do these sweetened puffs have just five grams of sugar per serving, compared to 10 or more for similar brands, but they offer 5 grams of fiber, too. I’m going to bill these as kinda like a honey-sweetened Cap’n Crunch.

Cascadian Farms Organic Kids Fruitful Os: These have more sugar than any other brand we’re recommending, 9 grams per serving. That’s nearly as much as you’d get from something like Froot Loops. But, they also pack three grams of fiber, and use natural fruit and spice dyes as colorants, which balances things out a bit.

EnviroKidz Organic Amazon Frosted Flakes: Similar to sugar-frosted corn flakes, but with less sugar (6 grams per serving, rather than 10 or 12), and two grams of fiber, rather than just one. The branding of this entire cereal line, with its cutesy exotic-animal motif, will likely appeal to younger kids. Older ones might appreciate that one percent of sales are donated to species and habitat conservation or education programs for kids.

Annie’s Honey-Bunny Os: Maybe better known for their little bunny cheese crackers, Annie’s has several kid-friendly cereals. This one, with 7 grams of sugar, is just slightly less sweet than more commercial varieties, but I like the fact that it uses honey and fruit juice concentrate, not high-fructose corn syrup.

Nature’s Path Organic Honey’d Corn Flakes: Just four ingredients in this gluten-free cereal: organic corn, real cane juice, honey, and sea salt. They’re also just mildly sweet, with only 4 grams of sugar per serving – among the lowest you’ll find in a pre-sweetened cereal.