A lot of my clients are shocked when they find out that I recommend cereal. Some quit eating cereal years ago because they think of it as kid food, or a carb-heavy waste of calories. But not all cereals are created equal. To earn a place in my cupboard a cereal must be: 100 percent whole grain, unsweetened, all natural, with no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. Here are four that fit the bill and my favorite ways to enjoy them:

Arrowhead Mills Puffed Millet
The puffed version of this tiny whole grain, a staple food in India, is perfect as a cold cereal, or in parfaits layered with yogurt, fruit, and nuts. Check out my Pinterest pic where I combine it with fresh sliced organic strawberries, organic soy milk, sliced almonds, and tangerine zest. 

Erewhon Corn Flakes
The only ingredients here are organic, non-GMO corn and sea salt, but the sodium is quite low at just 60 milligrams per cup (3 percent of the maximum recommended intake). Corn is a member of the whole grain family, so starting your day with a bowl of corn flakes is one of the quickest ways to fit in a serving; and organic corn is rich in antioxidants. Aside from your cereal bowl you can also crush corn flakes to use as breading for oven baked chicken, tofu, or fish.

Nature’s Path Puffed Brown Rice
I’m addicted to puffed whole grain cereals. They satisfy my crunch tooth and because they’re airy I can eat a larger portion for fewer carbs. For example, a half-cup of cooked brown rice packs about 22 grams of carbohydrates, whereas 1 cup of puffed brown rice contains just 14 grams. In addition to cold cereal, I also make an occasional splurge that combines puffed brown rice with warmed maple syrup, almond butter, sliced almonds, and dark chocolate chips—it’s like a healthier vegan version of rice crispy treats!       

Bob’s Red Mill 5 Grain Hot Cereal 
As much as I love a crunchy bowl of cold cereal some mornings I need to warm up. In addition to oats this mixture includes whole wheat, rye, barley, triticale (a wheat/rye hybrid), and flaxseeds. I pinned this pic after combining it with fresh grated ginger, a chopped organic green apple, and sliced almonds.

Are you a fellow cereal lover? Do you have other faves that meet my healthy criteria? Please tweet @cynthiasass and @Shape_Magazine.

Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

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