While most types of commercial granola are off limits until Phase 3 of the South Beach Diet due to their typically high sugar and fat content, you can enjoy other more nutritious cold cereals (or healthy granola you make yourself) starting on Phase 2. By adding some South Beach Diet–friendly ingredients, like chopped nuts and/or seeds, and fresh or dried fruits, you can customize what goes into your healthy store-bought cereal. Or, you can make your own cold cereal by following one of the recipes we provide below for muesli. Either way, you can enjoy the cold cereal with a cup of fat-free or 1% milk or sprinkle some dried cereal over nonfat plain or artificially sweetened low-fat or nonfat flavored yogurt. Here are some delicious ways to dress up your morning cereal:
Make Marvelous Muesli
Muesli, which means “mixture” in German, is incredibly easy to make and it can vary widely depending on what ingredients you have on hand. It’s a healthy alternative to a hot bowl of oatmeal. Our Easy Walnut Muesli with Fresh Apricots recipe features crunchy walnuts, wheat germ, rolled oats, fresh apricots (use dried during the winter), sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds. We lightly roast the walnuts in the oven and combine them with the oats, wheat germ, and seeds in a cereal bowl before adding milk. For a muesli and yogurt parfait, try layering our Toasted Many-Grain Muesli with some nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt and some berries or a chopped apple. You can prepare extra muesli and store it airtight in a Mason jar or other container for up to 2 weeks.
Buy a Healthful Cereal
If you prefer to purchase cold cereal, make sure to buy one that has at least 6 grams of fiber from whole grains. And always choose a cereal that has 8 grams or less of sugar per serving. If you’re following the South Beach Diet Gluten Solution Program, choose a low-sugar, gluten-free cold cereal with a minimum of 2 g fiber per serving. Be sure to check the package label, since serving sizes vary widely on cereals and watch out for gluten-free cereals made with white rice as well as those that have added sugars.
Dress It Up with Healthy Add-Ins
If you purchase a plain whole-grain cereal, the possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to stirring some extra nutrition into your morning bowlful. To give your cereal a natural sweetness, add some fresh fruit like a banana or strawberries. Or, if you prefer, you can include some unsweetened dried cranberries, cherries, or apricots. For a heart-healthy crunch, add nuts or seeds, such as walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pecan halves, or shredded unsweetened coconut, but be sure to use no more than 1/4 cup total per serving for nuts and 1/8 cup or 3 tablespoons for seeds.