Susan Hansen, Extension Educator, UNL Extension in Colfax
All Cereals Are Not Created Equal
Cereal has become a standard breakfast for many of us. If chosen well, it can be a valuable contributor to a healthy diet. Check the nutrient content and ingredients on the label to be sure you are getting the best cereal to meet your nutritional needs.
Cereal can contribute fiber to the diet. Fiber is helpful in preventing constipation. It also may reduce the risk of colon cancer as well as reduce your cholesterol level. Not all cereals provide the same amount of fiber. Some cereals contain very little fiber.
Cereal manufacturers add sugar in several forms. Look for fructose, sucrose, corn syrup and honey. These are all forms of sugar. Sugar provides simple carbohydrates but no other nutrients. Some cereals have as much as 2 to 4 teaspoons of sugar per serving. If you prefer a sweet taste, top the unsweetened cereal with fresh fruit or a small amount of sugar. If you add the sugar, you have control over how much to add. Pre-sweetened cereals do not allow that option.
Most cereals are very low in fat. The exception is granola. While most commercial granolas do contain nutritious ingredients such as raisins or oatmeal, a one-fourth cup serving generally contains as much fat as one teaspoon of margarine. Make your own granola to control the amount of fat.
If you are on a diet limited to sodium, check the labels. Sodium in cereal is probably not a
problem for most people.
Check the serving size on the label. Serving sizes vary, depending on the type of cereal. Cereals composed of flakes usually have a larger serving size (3/4 cup to 1 cup). Dense cereals have smaller serving sizes (1/4 cup). The common denominator among cereals is the weight, not the volume.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Here are two healthier alternatives to popular snacks.
Quick and Easy Fruit Soda
Mix one 12 ounce can frozen juice concentrate with one quart club soda. Add 12 ounces of water (use the juice can). Stir and serve. Makes an amount equivalent to five cans of soda pop.
Mix one and one-half cups milk with one third cup peanut butter. Blend in a 3 ounce package of instant pudding (chocolate works great). Put between graham crackers. Freeze three hours. Makes 24 sandwiches.
A wet paper towel or cloth under a bowl or cutting board will prevent it from sliding around when mixing ingredients or kneading and rolling out dough.
To reduce the amount of fat in soup stock, refrigerate after cooking. The fat will rise to the top and harden. Skim off the hardened fat.
To clean a blender, fill half full with hot water; add a few drops of dishsoap. Cover; turn on for a few seconds. Rinse and drain dry.
Use a pastry brush to clean foods such a lemon rind, cheese or onion out of a grater.
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