Breakfast can be a very tricky meal when it comes to eating healthy because it’s often the meal we find the least amount of time for. However, as we know, most of the “convenience food” options there are for breakfast are anything but healthy choices and can set the stage for your eating for the rest of the day. Throw into the equation a picky eater, and you have quite the dilemma.
I get breakfast food questions a lot – people are trying their best to eat well but they are short on time and energy and they know that there are not many convenient options out there that will cut it. I also often hear “My kid will only eat waffles in the morning. Is there anything I can give him/her that isn’t as bad?” I became a health coach on a mission in the freezer section of Market Basket and I landed on Kashi 7 Grain frozen waffles.
The 3-5-3 Rule
The rule that I use in choosing a healthy breakfast cereal I also apply to other breakfast grains. Looking at the nutrition facts, you want to find a product that contains at least 3 grams of protein, less than 5 grams of sugar, and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Kashi 7 Grain Waffles were a HUGE winner in this test with 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of fiber for 2 waffles. These are an option that will keep you feeling full and satisfied and will not lead to a large blood sugar spike and crash.
The ingredients list for Kashi 7 Grain Waffles is enough to make my little health coach heart go pitter patter. The majority of ingredients are various whole grains and ingredients that you would expect to see in a wholesome grain product. As we know from the nutrition facts, they contain minimal added cane sugar and I’m not concerned about the canola oil in it as it is non-GMO and there is not a large amount in them.
A couple ingredients that some people get concerned about – soy lecithin and xanthan gum. While they sound scary, you are going to find these additives in virtually any packaged food product.
Soy lecithin typically raises red flags for people because of the word “soy.” A little while back, a very misleading study was conducted from which people concluded that soy acts as estrogen in the human body and can, therefore, cause certain cancers. However, there were a number of problems with this study that poke huge holes in those conclusions. 1. the study was conducted on mice which are not biologically similar enough to humans to make that extrapolation, and 2. the amount of soy those mice were given in the study far exceeds what any person would ever consume (here is a fantastic resource if you’d like to learn more about this). It also failed to account for the quality of the soy consumed. It’s also very important to note that, while soy lecithin is found in many, many foods, it is present in very, very small quantities.
Soy lecithin is typically added to food as an emulsifier or lubricant but it can also be used as an antioxidant and flavor protector. It actually has some health benefits, believe it or not. For one, it may lower cholesterol levels and, for another, it contains choline, which prevents organ disfunction, fatty liver, and muscle damage.
Bottom line on soy lecithin: unless you have a severe soy allergy or the soy is GMO, you need not worry about it.
Xanthan gum is the other additive people often worry about and it’s also found in almost everything that comes in a package. It is typically added to foods as a stabilizer and is found in very small quantities. Although considered safe for consumption, it can cause gas and bloating in those who are sensitive to it. For this reason, those who eat a diet consisting of mostly prepackaged foods may notice a significant improvement in how they feel once they cut back on those foods.
Thus, while no additives is the best option, these two found in the Kashi waffles would not cause me to tell you to avoid them. (Here is a great resource on food additives if you’d like to learn more about what to avoid)
Flavor and Texture
Admittedly, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had an Eggo waffle (I think I was watching Lamb Chop’s Play Along if that’s any indication of how long it’s been) but I don’t think these would be a noticeable change for your kids if they’re used to eating Eggos. They have the texture you would expect of a frozen waffle and a nice, very slightly sweet flavor. They’re not heavy or gritty like some would worry a whole grain waffle would be.
What’s Your Topping?
No amount of whole grain is going to matter if you are drowning your waffles in sugary pancake syrup. The typical store-bought pancake syrup consists almost entirely of unhealthy, even dangerous, ingredients: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sodium benzoate, and artificial flavors to name a few.
Better options for waffle toppers include: real maple syrup, honey, fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, natural sugar-free peanut butter, and avocado.
With a healthful topping, these multigrain waffles are a solid start to your day.