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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 22, 2018

A good breakfast leads to a good morning

May 31, 2018

By Melissa Boncher, Hy-Vee registered dietitian


When shopping for breakfast items like pancake mix, frozen waffles and granola, not all products are created equal.

If you or your family are trying to eat a little better, here’s a few things to look for on the label.

Pancake or waffle mix

An ideal pancake or waffle mix includes 100 percent whole grains, preferably as the first ingredient.

If you see the word “whole” used to describe a grain in the ingredients, then it contains all the essential natural-occurring nutrients of the grain: the bran, germ and endosperm.

Words such as “wheat” and “multigrain” might lead you to believe that they are whole grains, but unless you see the word “whole,” you can’t be sure.

Also look for mixes that offer three grams of fiber or more.

Toaster pancakes or waffles

Toaster pancakes and waffles are a lifesaver on busy mornings, but some are better than others. Like the mixes, look for brands that use 100 percent whole grains. Bonus points if they use chia seeds or ground flax; both of which add healthy fat.

Generally, if a product is made with whole grains, it will contain some fiber, but check the label anyway.

You’re looking for three grams or more per serving. Additionally, brands such as Kodiak Cakes have a line of power waffles, which include 12 grams of protein per serving.

The combination of protein and fiber helps you feel full for longer.

Muffin mix

Muffins can often be cake disguised as breakfast, but it’s possible to find some redeeming qualities if the mix is made with whole grains, contains some fiber and isn’t terribly high in sugar.

Depending on the flavor, blueberry, banana, cranberry; the total sugar might be coming from natural sources.

Regardless, it’s important to note that fiber and protein prevent blood sugar from spiking too quickly, so look for one that has at least three grams of fiber and pair it with protein, such as yogurt or an egg.

Try to avoid baking them as jumbo muffins. A regular-sized muffin tin, or even a mini muffin tin, can help keep portions under control.


Granola, while nutritious, is a fairly energy-dense food which means it packs a lot of calories into a small serving.

Look for one that contains whole grains, such as oats or whole grain rolled wheat, dried fruit or nuts. All of these will provide fiber.

Keep portions to a half cup or under, or look for the single-serving packs. Kodiak Cakes has a line of hot or cold granola that comes in cups.

They contain about four grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein for fewer than 300 calories.


People often wonder about the difference between steel cut oats, rolled oats and quick oats, so here’s a brief primer.

All oats start off as groats. Steel cut oats are the least processed: they’re simply chopped pieces of whole groats.

Rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats, are steamed and rolled flat, so they cook quicker than steel cut oats. Quick oats, or instant oats, are cooked, dried and rolled even thinner than old-fashioned oats.

This is what makes them the quickest cooking of all. When it comes to nutrition, they’re all good choices. It’s what you add to the oatmeal that counts.

Smart options are berries, nuts and spices. Try to keep brown sugar to a teaspoon or less.

Here’s a quick, healthy recipe for you to try.

Ham & egg breakfast waffle

Serving this sweet and savory waffle combo with a half cup of raspberries adds four grams of fiber.


2 tbsp. light ricotta cheese

1 Kodiak Cake buttermilk & vanilla power waffle, toasted

1/4 cup baby spinach leaves

2 slices deli ham

1 hard-boiled egg, sliced

1 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. finely chopped scallion


Spread ricotta cheese on waffle. Top with spinach leaves, ham and egg slices. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with scallion.

Nutrition per serving:

320 calories, 13g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 220 mg cholesterol, 840 mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 17g sugar, 21g protein.

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