Wednesday, March 13, 2013

cereal wars

What is it with kids and packaged breakfast cereal?! One taste and they're hooked. Yes it is the sugar and salt. And the marketing. Mamas want their children to actually eat something in the morning, especially before they go to school so for many families they start their day with packaged cereal mainly because it is quick and children will eat it. But as we know, filling up on empty calories is not ideal for growing and learning. There must be another way.

My creative wholefood mama friend Robin emailed me her inspiring and creative approach to steering her school age children, Maya and Rye, to eating a nutritious wholefood breakfast I loved the story so much I asked Robin if I could share it here.

Robin writes:

"As far as my children’s eating goes, breakfast is one meal I feel is not as wholesome as it could be. I make my own muesli, but my husband prefers a packaged cereal which is predominately wheat based. 
I have been struggling with breakfast as there is “dad’s cereal” in the cupboard next to “mom’s” cereal and “dad’s” cereal keeps winning…hands down.

I thought about how I could try and persuade my children to eat something more wholesome for breakfast. Sure, we have egg morning, but on cereal morning, they kept going for “dad’s” cereal.

So about a week ago, I told them that they could make their own muesli. “Make our own muesli? What’s that mum?” 

“Well”, I explained, “I will take a bunch of jars from the pantry and you will choose what you want in your muesli, measure it, mix it and then jar it in your own jar.” 

The idea sat in their heads for a whole week until I started pulling jars from the pantry to make muesli bars for their lunch boxes. 

“Oh, mum. Are we going to make our own muesli now?” 

I was so happy- They had caught on to the idea of making their own personalised breakfast cereal.

On the day of the making, when Maya was almost done mixing she said “Ohhh mum, this looks so good.”

And about one hour after Rye bottled his, he came over and asked if he could eat some of his muesli now, “Just to make sure it is good for breakfast.”

SUCCESS!!! I sure hope so. I told them that they did have to finish what was in the jar that they made but if they did not like it, we could modify it for the next time. ”You could toast it, add more cinnamon, put more fruit in, more nuts, less of something you did not like.”

They both measured and wrote down their recipe so that they could remember what they put in the first go and then modify. Maybe we are on to something good! 

I personally believe that with all those jars open, their little bodies will tell them what they need to eat. And they were all great options! 

Here is the list…

Rolled Oats
Rice Puffs
Quinoa Puffs
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
Sesame Seeds
Flax Seeds
Oat Bran
Wheat Bran Sticks
Dried Figs
Dried Apricots
Goji Berries
Dried Cranberries

Parenting is a tight rope act…when is authoritative parenting the “right” answer, when are self-made choices the “best"? I really have no answer. But I am hoping that they will be excited for breakfast tomorrow because they made it, they chose what was in it, and because they can modify it. 

I really trust in their young intuition, their bodies, given the opportunity really will tell them what they need to be eating. And because I trust in that, I am happy to continually give them the space to modify.

When breakfast time came they both took the lids off their jars and smelled their muesli first.
"Oh Mama, smell mine!" "And Mine!!"

Thank you Robin for sharing your story so honestly. It is an inspiring read that shows how encouraging our children to eat well can be fun.

What's happening at the breakfast table in your house readers? Tell us your favorite breakfasts. 
Do you make your own muesli?


  1. What a fabulous idea. My husband and I were having the cereal discussion just last night. I make our own muesli, which both my husband and I eat, and occasionally the girls. Other than that the children will have Vitabrits, which does have salt, but no sugar, or toast.
    The kids often do help me make the muesli, but I don't think they are quite at the age where they can make their own. I will keep this in mind for when they are older though.

    1. thanks for your comment Milina. It is great that you make your own muesli and get your girls involved they will grow up knowing home made is the way to eat! x

  2. That is absolutely fantastic! We are pretty boring with our breakfasts here ... yoghurt with seeds (me), quinoa and oats porridge, and eggs (olive). That's pretty much it. (Although Shane and Olive are rather partial to a weekend croissant.) I am so going to do this with Olive when she's older, I just love it. Kellie xx

    1. I'm with Shane and Olive and their weekend croissant appreciation! Though, I rarely indulge in it. I am more likely to convince Sol and River to share a bite of their with me :) so glad the post inspired you I loved the story too x

  3. We struggle with this a lot in our house. Especially after a visit to someones house that has packaged cereal. I think they are quite addictive for kid's tastes. Great idea for an alternative.

    1. I agree Tania packaged cereal is addictive for children's little tastebuds. The way I tackle the differences in what my children's friends eat is to tell them that every family does things differently and we don't eat those kind of cereals here. I always explain the packaged food has a lot of sugar and salt in it and we tell our boys that because we know what is in the food and that we love them so much and want them to be healthy that's why we don't eat it. Our boys are age 3 and 6 and so far so good. I know it can get trickier as children get older (and more vocal!) Good luck x

  4. Love this idea! There is something so appealing about glass jars filled with food. x

    1. I agree Natalie about the glass jars - I think it is the fact that the glass jars don't have brand labels plastered across them! x

  5. This is absolutely brilliant Nikki - LOVE! x

    1. Oh glad you enjoyed it Jodi, I love Robin's story too and was very happy that she said yes to sharing! Have a lovely weekend x

  6. Glass jars filled with all the necessary ingredients for anything you can wish makes me very happy indeed. We usually stick with porridge with extra bits and pieces, bouts of homemade muesli and a variety of eggs done all different ways, oh and porridge pancakes with chia seeds, nuts, fruit, almond mea and egg. We did have a couple of months trapped in the world of organic weet-bix after the kids had some at a friends place and for some reason we were trapped there, it was also a time where a lot of stuff was happening for us, so i didn't have the alarm bells on it, as i usually do food when is processed and crap, but it didn't last long and was swiftly shown the door. Beautiful post again, gorgeous you.

    1. Breakfast at your place sounds delish! The key point that stood out to me in your comment about the organic weet-bix was that is was during a time 'where a lot of stuff was happening for us', this raises the point of how important it is to be gentle in our approach the wholefood journey is just that a journey, our pantry and our food choices grow and change as we do. Happy sunday to you xx


Thanks for your comments. I read every one!

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