The hottest thing in the cereal aisle is single-serve cups of hot cereal. It’s an easy way to eat cereal first thing in the morning without worrying about dishes, or an easy snack to tote to work. Here is an overview of hot cereal cups you may come across at a market near you.
Quaker, known for its oatmeal, makes a variety of instant oatmeal cups, including Apples & Cranberries, Honey & Almonds and Cinnamon Pecan. Some of the cups contain 50 percent less sugar less than their original version and use stevia for some sweetness. The Apples & Cranberries instant oatmeal cup contains 190 calories, 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugar. The ingredient list contains a laundry list of ingredients, including whey protein isolate and maltodextrin, plus a variety of added B vitamins and iron.
There are four flavors of oat cups made by Love Grown, including Blueberry Banana Walnut, Peach Vanilla Almond, Strawberry Raspberry and Apple Cinnamon. The cups are made with gluten-free oats and are certified gluten-free and Non-GMO Project verified. The Apple Cinnamon oat cup contains 5 ingredients with 230 calories, 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 13 grams of sugar. All the oat cups can also be made into muffins, the simple recipe is right on the container.
Nature Valley offers four flavors of oatmeal in a cup, including Maple Pecan Crunch, Mixed Berry Crunch, Toasted Coconut Almond Crunch and Cranberry Apple Crunch. These cups are marketed as being a good source of protein, with 10 grams of protein per cup, which comes from whey and soy protein isolate. The Maple Pecan Crunch contains 290 calories, 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 13 grams of sugar. The list of ingredients is shorter than Quaker’s, but still could be cleaner.
Special K offers four flavors of hot cereal, including Cinnamon Raisin Pecan, Cranberry Almond, Honey Nut Crunch and Maple Brown Sugar. The cereals are made from a multigrain blend that contains quinoa (which is a whole grain) mixed with other grains (which aren’t necessarily whole). The Cinnamon Raisin Pecan hot cereal contains 190 calories, 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugar. Although these contain slightly less sugar than other brands, there is a very long list of ingredients and nutrients that have been added into the cups.
Kashi recently released three flavors of overnight muesli, including Cacao Nib Almond & Coconut, Cherry Cinnamon & Cardamom and Sunflower Pepita. The ingredient lists are not very long and include whole oats, whole rye, whole barley, chia seeds, almonds and flax seeds. One cup of the Cherry Cinnamon & Cardamom contains 220 calories, 7 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber and 9 grams of sugar. This beats most brands on the amount of fiber and is lowest in sugar too. These cups need to be filled with your favorite milk the night before and left in the fridge so you can enjoy them first thing in the morning.
You can find four varieties of gluten-free oatmeal cups offered by Bob’s Red Mill, including Apple Cinnamon, Brown Sugar & Maple, Classic, and Blueberry Hazelnut. The ingredient list is short, and the ingredients are recognizable. A cup of Blueberry Hazelnut contains 290 calories, 7 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein. The Classic cup has nothing added, which leaves it up to you to dress your oatmeal however your palate desires.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.