Cons: Contains seven grams of sugar, which is on the high side for something marketed as a “healthier” cereal.
My Big Girl is in an anti-cereal phase. She won’t eat her Joe’s Os anymore. She doesn’t like Puffins, she says. I like her to eat something in the morning, so I’ve been on a quest for a new cereal, buying anything I think she might like. I saw Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise during my last trip to Whole Foods and picked it up. I was wrangling Little Girl at the time, so I only gave the box a quick look, but I liked what I saw. The front clearly stated it was organic and contained three grams of fiber, two grams of protein, and 11 percent of the daily recommended allowance of omega-3s. I also liked what was missing: preservatives and artificial colors and flavors. Its sodium content wasn’t too bad, either. Just 130 milligrams.
When we got home, I showed Big Girl my find, offering her a bowl of the stuff. She was skeptical. It doesn’t look like other cereals, she said. She’s right. It’s not uniform in size, shape, or color. In fact, it’s what I’d call a fun mix of shapes and textures. (Thanks to the ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth.) Big Girl, however, wouldn’t try it.
Not wanting to waste a box of cereal, I poured myself a bowl for lunch the next day. It was quite yummy. The cereal has a nice crunch to it, and all those different shapes and sizes make for a different experience in every spoonful. As for the taste: The vanilla is very subtle, but it is pretty sweet overall. So sweet, in fact, that after I took a second bite I had to give the label another look. That’s when I saw that sugar (evaporated cane juice to be exact) was the second ingredient. Here’s the full list of ingredients:
Whole corn meal, evaporated cane juice, brown rice flour, yellow corn flour, inulin, quinoa puffs, flax seeds, natural vanilla flavor, buckwheat flour, quinoa, sea salt, amaranth, molasses, tocopherols (natural vitamin E)
When you consider that four grams of sugar equals about a teaspoon of sugar, that means every bowl of Organic Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise has almost two teaspoons of the stuff. While it’s not a deal-breaker for me, I do wish it had a little less sugar. On the plus side — and what’s frightening — is that the sugar content is relatively low when you compare it with other cereals.
This past December the Environmental Working Group (EWG) assessed breakfast cereals and found some were 55.6, 51.9, and 48.3 percent sugar by weight. (The offending cereals were Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, Post Golden Crisp, and Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow, respectively. Organic Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise, by comparison, is 23.3 percent sugar by weight.) You can look at the rest of the 10 Worst Children’s Cereals here.
There are a few issues when you add sugar to breakfast cereal. Littler kids especially have issues when sugar content creeps up. From an EWG press release:
“Studies suggest that children who eat breakfasts that are high in sugar have more problems at school. They become more frustrated and have a harder time working independently than kids who eat lower-sugar breakfasts. By lunchtime they have less energy, are hungrier, show attention deficits and make more mistakes on their work.”
I have digressed completely. Again, this cereal falls below the suggested eight grams of sugar per bowl, so since I’m eating it — and loving it, I might add — I’ll keep buying it. Will I give it to my 3-year-old? Probably not, but if Big Girl, who is eight wanted to try it, I’d probably happily pour her a bowl. And since I do like this cereal, I’m definitely checking out some of the other Nature’s Path offerings, which made it on to the EWG’s list of best cereals (meaning they are lower in sugar) including Optimum Cranberry Ginger, Corn Puffs, Kamut Puffs, Millet Puffs, and Rice Puffs.
How does your breakfast cereal stack up? Take a look at the EWG’s analysis of 84 popular cereal offerings if you’re not sure.