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How To Make Breakfast Cereals Healthy With Toppings

Updated on September 28, 2016
Oatmeal With Healthy Berry and Nut toppings
Oatmeal With Healthy Berry and Nut toppings | Source

Cereals Made Healthier With Favorite Add-On Toppings

What makes a cereal healthy? Your breakfast cereal will be more nutritious by adding ingredients such as natural fruits, nuts, and seeds in pleasing combinations.

Are you settling for the over-processed, loaded with sugar type cereal the kids love? Or, do you eat whole grains that haven't been stripped of their natural nutrients? Would you like to get back to eating "closer to nature"? How about eating real food instead of cereals with extreme amounts of sweeteners, and chemicals. Some zealous manufacturers work hard to sell their inferior products by getting your kids hooked on junk foods, including certain cereals.

This article is useful for "kids" of all ages. I know your kids aren't the readers so, yes, it's for you adults, too, who may or may not be craving sugary cereals. Are you searching for a new strategy to get yourself or your kiddos (if you have them) to eat a better breakfast? Wake-Up your children's tastebuds so they'll love healthier cereal options. Further down you will find suggestions of ways to get you young kids and teens to eat healthier cereals.

Take a look at the photo collection of breakfast cereals topped with vitamin-rich accompaniments I've tried, and view the list of food "add-ons" that bring even junk cereal closer to a healthier cereal entrée. . . Even if the cereal isn't nutritionally sufficient in itself.

I'd like to share my favorite cereal recipe used in winter months or all year through. That's it in the photo with the luscious berry topper. As the seasons changed to summer I used fresh instead of frozen berries and used other seasonal fruit for variation.

These cereals with add-ons are so tasty that you or the kids may make breakfast a favorite meal.

All Photo Credits: The author, aka MariannesWhims

Oatmeal Topped With Nectarines and Black Raisin Grapes


I enjoyed organic thick-cut oatmeal with yellow nectarines and (halved) black raisin grapes. Colorful and delicious!

In my region, seedless black raisin table grapes are very sweet at their harvest. My favorite! I can buy them in late summer and fall.

Nostalgia of How I Quit Eating Sugar on Cereal

Eons ago, at the breakfast table, I was a small girl of four. My dad caught me reaching out to the sugar bowl with my spoon. I took a heaping spoonful of sugar which I dumped on my cereal, then stretched out my arm for another spoonful. My dad stopped me. . .

My Daddy Used The Best Psychology.

He said "What did you tell me you want to be when you grow up? I answered, "A nurse". I loved playing nurse at that age. "Well", he said, "You know, nurses don't put sugar on their cereal. They eat healthy food, because they don't want to get sick. They have to be well to take care of sick people."

That's all it took. I didn't eat the cereal I'd "spoiled". I still prefer unsweetened cereal to this day so his words of advice stuck with me. My sweetener may be berries or fruit topping, not sugar.

Give Your Opinion On Healthy Cereal By Joining The Debate - Can a bowl of cereal with toppings be healthier than processed?

Are you or your family cereal eaters? What kind is your preferance?

Won't you join this quick duel to share your thoughts on the cereal debate? Pick a side.

I appreciate you taking a moment!

Packaged cereal with added vitamins and loads of sugar is okay and tastes great.

Packaged cereal with added vitamins and loads of sugar is okay and tastes great.

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    • Ravi and Swastha 2 years ago from London, Canada

      Wow less sugar serial. This looks more natural to eat. Thanks for sharing. Voted up & interesting.

    • Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @Doc_Holliday: Thanks, you are so right. I will add it to my lens and go out next shopping trip and buy some muesli. I've been wanting to try it. Bet it will be another favorite.

    • Doc_Holliday 3 years ago

      The muesli versions often contain fiber, whole grains, fruit, nuts etc. and are convenient.

    Cereal with fiber, less sugar, and whole grains plus fruit/nut/seed add-ons is healthier. Yum!

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      • Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

        Yes I prefer the muesli type cereals!

      • Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

        @MissRubyStars: We are like-minded on less sugar, and liking fruit and nuts. Thanks for your comment.

      • MissRubyStars 3 years ago

        Anything with less sugar and topped with fruit and nuts is always a winner for me!

      • Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

        I prefer not to have a sugar loaded cereal.

      • Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

        @MarathonRunning: I, too, love cereal most with fresh seasonal fruit. Thanks for stopping by and squidliking my lens.

      • Martina 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

        I love the taste of cereals without sugar or coloring. Maybe because I don`t like colorful things and I enjoy in simplicity. If it is possible, add some fresh seasonal fruits on the cereals.

      • Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

        @GeorgeneMBramlage: Great comments. I forgot currents on my list of add-ons. Thanks. Eating fruit in season may be more nutritious and cheaper. I think that's true of me liking food less sweet, also, as I age. Once you get used to less sugar or salt though, too much tastes overly sweet.

      • Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

        My favorite breakfasts are either slow-cooked oatmeal with raisins / current and cinnamon or multigrain cereal topped with about 1/2 cup of whatever fruit happens to be either in season or cheap at the market. This seems to keep me going for a long time. As I "age" I seem to like food less and less sweet.

      • Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

        @Diana Wenzel: Tastes great!

      • Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

        @GrammieOlivia: You are so right. Whole grains taste naturally sweet. Thanks!

      • GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

        Give me the whole grains any day of the week! Naturally sweet and good for you too!

      • Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

        I like oatmeal with sliced bananas and cinnamon.

      A Good Fall And Winter Topping Is Pears - Green Anjou Pears, Pumpkin Seeds, And Raisins Atop Organic Oatmeal

      Pears and Raisins and Pumpkin Seeds Topping Hot Cereal
      Pears and Raisins and Pumpkin Seeds Topping Hot Cereal | Source

      Heeding The Sugar Warning?

      I'll admit. I'm not a purist avoiding sugar. When I was young my mind didn't translate my dad's warning about sugar on cereal as being the same thing as sugar in Mom's desserts or sweet treats. Although, I prefer unsweetened cereal and teas thanks to Dad.

      I still enjoy sweets, but now being much older and wiser about health I cut down on sugars in recipes, and watch labels. Exceptions: I don't pass by special occasions of life's celebrations, traditions, or favorite desserts. :-)

      Tempting Luscious Berries And Nuts Atop Oatmeal

      Closeup of Mixed Berries and Nuts Over Oatmeal
      Closeup of Mixed Berries and Nuts Over Oatmeal | Source

      How I Fix My Favorite Cereal With Toppings

      These are the ingredients that make my breakfast cereal something to look forward to.

      • First, I cook the oatmeal.
      • Then, add the spoonful of coconut oil to my bowl of oatmeal.

      And, to finish it off, I added the Toppings. . . The Best Part!

      • When I have a combo mixture of commercially frozen berries I use them. I've found really good blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I also supplement with our handpicked frozen blueberries and huckleberries. I am happy to use frozen when fresh are out of season. The photos show other in-season fruits are good to eat for variety and health.
      • I keep a ready jar of mixed nuts: walnuts, pecan pieces; and almonds, sliced or slivered. Sometimes, I have only one of these nuts, so I use what I have.

      These ingredients together make a yummy combination.

      • To top it off: I sprinkle with cinnamon. Yum! It's good, plus did you know it is healthy?

      I use other hot cereals as a trade-off to oatmeal. I like Bob's Red Mill 10-Grain Cereal for taste variety, and to get nutrition benefits of using a variety of grains. I've tried Old Country Muesli by Bob's Red Mill. It has seeds and nuts included so skip them on your toppings. It is nutritious with a chewy texture.

      Think Like A Kid: Help Your Child Make Good Food Choices

      Make Your Cereal Berry Happy.
      Make Your Cereal Berry Happy. | Source

      Entice Your Children To Eat Healthier By Making It Fun

      The oatmeal served above has a spoonful of coconut oil, and is topped with blueberries, strawberry, cinnamon, and coconut milk.

      Think Like A Kid In Making Their Breakfast Appealing.

      What foods appeal to your children? Kids usually like things simple; eye-appealing with color, shape, or design. So, why not make them think they are choosing and making their own breakfast. You're letting them make some of the decisions but providing healthier choices.

      • First: Make a healthy whole grain hot cereal before they come to the table.

      • Next: Set out several healthy topping options and let your kids create to their own taste. It can be similar to how they make their own ice cream sundae. . . but, instead with whole grain cereal, and toppings of fresh or dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Be original and fun!

      Here's Another Suggestion: A little Unusual---Cantalope On Cereal - Tastes Great With Frozen Blueberries and Fresh Peaches

      Cantalope frozen Blueberries, and Peach Topping
      Cantalope frozen Blueberries, and Peach Topping | Source

      Frozen Blueberries Are Like Candy

      Many kids and even adults like blueberries straight from the freezer. It's like popping candy in your mouth. Why not try it on cereal! Try cinnamon, too. The refreshing addition of cantalope and peaches surprisingly tasted great!

      • What About Preteens and Teens Breakfast Habits?

      • How to Help Older Kids Improve Their Breakfast Choices. Wouldn't it be great for your family to get away from all the overly processed sugary cereals? You may be able to pull it off easier if you start when your kids are young.
      • With older kids and teens, appeal to their body image and fitness. They are self-conscious of their weight, physical condition, and appearance at this age. They may agree to cutting down on the mornings of junk cereal. If your kids see that healthier cereals and toppings actually look and taste good, they may not miss the junk foods.
      • They still don't like hot cereals? Here is a compromise we used. Let them have packets of sweetened flavored oatmeal cereal. Some are Organic. But, before it is cooked the dry oatmeal is strained over the sink to rid all, or most of the sugar. (With an apples and cinnamon variety, the apples were big enough not to be lost when strained.) Use a small-holed wire mesh strainer! Much of the sugar strained out, but enough flavor stayed. You can add more cinnamon and a pat of butter, if preferred. Also, with hot cereal on warm days, you can let it cool off to room temperature before adding fresh or frozen fruit and milk.
      • A Saturday Exception: Giving In for The Sake Of Preventing Children Becoming Rebellious Young Adults Later: Have you tried setting one day, maybe Saturday, when they could eat their junk cereal (or a more nutritious look-alike alternative dry cereal).

      Banana, Raspberry, And Sunflower Kernel Topping - With Whole Grain Wheat Farina

      So good! Raspberries, bananas, and sunflower kernel topping.
      So good! Raspberries, bananas, and sunflower kernel topping. | Source

      Nutritious Benefits Of Cereal And Add-On Ingredients?

      • Oatmeal-

      Buy organic oatmeal if you are able. Oatmeal is whole grain and gives energy. Oatmeal is not an allergic trigger the way whole wheat becomes for some people. Plus, it's an economical cereal.

      Oatmeal doesn't naturally contain gluten but oatmeal can pick up some gluten at the processing plant from other products they produce with gluten. So, if gluten is a health concern for you buy specially packaged gluten-free brands.

      • 10-Grain Cereal and Muesli-

      These are two more good cereals that you can use alternately. They contain an assortment of healthy ingredients. Muesli can be eaten cold or hot. You soak the Muesli first overnight before eating it cold, per package directions.

      • Cinnamon-

      If you normally add some sugar to cereal, try using cinnamon instead. Besides being an aromatic popular spice, it makes your cereal seem sweeter. You may not even miss the sugar. Cinnamon is reported to be a good spice with several health benefits.

      • Coconut oil-

      Coconut oil has so many good benefits I won't list them all here.

      It's a healthy medium-chain saturated fat from a plant source. (It's not stored in your body as fat the way other saturated fats from meat do, but is metabolized sooner and burns as energy). It's good food for your brain.

      It will melt in your oatmeal. I started with using one tablespoon. In warmer weather usually above 72 degrees it turns to a liquid oil. Just stir it in your cereal. If oil in it's liquid state doesn't seem appealing in your breakfast cereal, you could eat a spoonful by itself or put it in your coffee to get some "good" fatty acids. A small amount of coconut oil (try 1 teaspoon) is good for kids, too. Younger children need healthy fats for their developing brain and good health.

      • Berries-

      Why the berries?

      ~Kids and people of all ages often love berries, and berries are a promoter of good health.

      ~They naturally sweeten cereal while adding benefits of vitamins, minerals, and fiber; antioxidants and more, to our diet.

      Blueberries, called a Superfood, are packed with such goodness (vitamins and antioxidants), making them one of the healthiest foods to eat.

      Researchers found a flavonoid in many berries called ellagic acid, a potential cancer-fighting compound. Black raspberries are said to have the most ellagic acid though they are not widely grown nor easy to find. Other berries have some ellagic acid: blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries. There are no life guarantees on preventing cancer or standard of how much a person should eat for maximum benefits. Nevertheless, I enjoy eating these delicious berries, full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, trying to stay pro-active against cancer risks.

      A con: Unfortunately berries, for some people, can be an allergy trigger food.

      Strawberries are also good source of vitamin C. I prefer eating organic strawberries, as conventional grown strawberries trap more of the chemical spray used in growing them.

      I've been eating berries almost every day over a year, as they are filled with antioxidants and flavonoids supplying health benefits.

      • Nuts-

      Walnuts, pecans, and thin-sliced almonds taste great with cereal.

      They're a source of good fat, omega-3, and protein. Nuts help balance blood sugar, from the fruit eaten along with it, by causing sugar to enter the blood stream slower.

      • Organic Cow's Milk-

      I mentioned above I use non-dairy alternative milks for my cereal. But, when I buy dairy products I prefer organic when available or at least BHT-free (the growth hormone given to cows).

      Horizon sells very small 8-oz. shelf-sustainable containers of organic real milk. It's great for recipes that call for milk if you don't buy larger milk cartons often. It's convenient for children's lunches. If they are drinking milk, going organic is a good choice. However, dairy milk is a common allergen, so it's not good for everyone.

      A Favorite, Nutritious Berry and Nut Topped Cereal


      Alternative Dairy Free Milk As A Cereal Topper

      • Alternative Non-Dairy Milk-Coconut, Almond, Rice, Soy, and Hemp

      Unsweetened coconut milk is my current favorite non-dairy drink to use on cereal. It looks and tastes almost creamy with no after taste. It has MCT's (medium-chain triglycerides). Bodies metabolize it quickly into needed energy. The brand I buy says the fat in the coconut milk contains approximately 60% medium chain fatty acids.

      I alternate using coconut milk with unsweetened almond milk with 45% daily calcium. I tried hemp milk, too, but came back to my favorites.

      I've used rice milk and unsweetened organic soy milk. First, there's some controversy about inert arsenic being in some rice products. Although, I don't know how rice milk fares. I like it's taste and we used it often, for many years, but will lay low using it until more is known. There are many choices out in the market now.

      Soy milk has had some controversy also as being a natural hormone producer. It's use is questionable for women's health and now I've heard for men, as it mimics female hormones being in them. Also, many people are allergic to soy or it gives them indigestion. It seems they find something wrong in many foods we consume so try to use your best judgement.

      Because researchers go back and forth between what is safe and good and what is harmful, I say it's best to rotate between the better choices.

      Peaches And Pecans Atop 10-Grain Cereal


      Cereal Toppings List

      Enjoy These Add-Ons


      1. strawberries
      2. blueberries
      3. raspberries
      4. blackberries
      5. marionberries
      6. apples
      7. grapes, halved
      8. peaches
      9. nectarines
      10. bananas
      11. pears
      12. apricots
      13. cantalope

      Dried Fruit

      1. Cherries
      2. Cranberries
      3. Raisins
      4. Dates
      5. apples
      6. strawberries
      7. figs
      8. currants
      9. papaya


      1. walnuts
      2. pecans
      3. cashews
      4. almonds, sliced or slivered
      5. pistachios


      1. sunflower
      2. pumpkin
      3. Flax seed meal
      4. sesame

      Miscellaneous Other

      1. butter
      2. coconut oil
      3. coconut, Shred or flaked

      Alternative Non-Dairy Milk and Shelf-Stable Cow's Milk

      1. coconut milk
      2. almond milk
      3. rice milk
      4. Horizon organic 1% lowfat milk (single, 8 oz. shelf-stable)

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you were inspired to try making your cereal more fun, delicious, and healthy.

      Please Leave A Comment - Any ideas for cereal topping combos?

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          Ravi and Swastha 2 years ago from London, Canada

          Very nice recipe. Enjoyed this page. Thanks for sharing. Thumps up & very interesting hub page.

        • MariannesWhims profile image

          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @paulahite: Thank you! You made my day!

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          Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

          What a great idea! We've featured your lens on our Google+ page today!! Come and check it out!

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          Charito Maranan-Montecillo 3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

          I love cereals, but I've stopped eating them lately 'cause they give me a bomb stomach. My favorite are coco puffs.

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @Heidi Vincent: Thanks for your visit, FreshStart7. I appreciate your compliment and I'm glad the cereal with topping photos look enticing.

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          Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

          Great fruits, nuts and raisins cereal toppings here, 1angelsbestkeptsecrets! Your photos of them have put me in a breakfast mood this time of night :))

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          Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

          Reading this lens makes me want to eat a warm bowl of cereal with one of the suggested toppings. Very yummy and healthy lens.

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @delia-delia: Thank you, d-artist. I appreciate you telling me you like my photography and lens. Sounds like you eat a great combination for a healthy breakfast. I admit even though I skip adding sugar to my cereal, I eat it other times (dessert). So I'm not perfect, either. :-) I just try to pick my poison. (Ha, Ha! Not literally, of course.)

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          Delia 3 years ago

          This a really nicely done your photography very nice. I eat Natural Oatmeal 100 whole grain, but not cooked, I add low-fat Vanilla Yogurt, Soy-milk, handful of raisins and sliced almonds...or a variety of fruit, such as you have shown. Unfortunately I do love sugar, I have fought this demon for years, and I can't win...but do try ;-)

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @anonymous: That's great! I agree it can make a hearty breakfast. Thanks for your comment and for your visit to my lens.

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          Love oatmeal and I love flapjacks that are made with oatmeal and they keep you from being hungry all morning too can vouch for that.

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @MissRubyStars: Thank you. Glad you visited, and liked my lens.

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          Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

          Looks a lot like some of my cereal combos. I haven't tried coconut oil though. I don't add sugar either, never have.

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          MissRubyStars 3 years ago

          I'm not usually an oatmeal fan but after seeing your recipe for oatmeal "Oatmeal with spoonful of coconut oil, and topped with blueberries, strawberry, cinnamon, and coconut milk. Sounds so delicious! I will definitely be trying this!

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @favored: Coconut oil doesn't add much to the taste, I add it for it's health benefits. You've never added sugar to cereals, that's amazing. I don't add it either to cereal. I'm not always as good at resisting sweets. Thanks for your comments and visit.

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @anonymous: Glad you like my cereal with toppings photos. Enjoy your healthy breakfasts. Visit again soon.

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @Doc_Holliday: Thanks for your comment and visiting my lens. I'll add it to the list.

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          Doc_Holliday 3 years ago

          Plain yoghurt is good.

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          The pictures look delicious! Thanks for the great ideas for healthy breakfasts! I think I will make oatmeal with fruit and nuts tomorrow morning. Yum!

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @GeorgeneMBramlage: Thank you for your compliment on the cereal with toppings lens. Thanks for stopping by. I wrote a small comment about soy milk. I've changed from soy to another couple alternative milks I prefer better on cereal. We use low-fat cow's milk very little.

        • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

          Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

          Thanks for an attractive lens with pictures that entice readers to dig in! Maybe I overlooked it, but I didn't see soy milk as an alternative to dairy milk. I like this almost better than low-fat cow's milk.

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @lesliesinclair: Thanks for your comment, that's fantastic. I'm curious what's your new breakfast?

        • MariannesWhims profile image

          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @Diana Wenzel: I agree. I love fresh fruit for breakfast. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your likes.

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @GrammieOlivia: I'm glad you stopped by. Thanks for the squidlike.

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          Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

          Thanks for encouraging a healthy breakfast. I mostly eat fruit for breakfast, but when I do have cereal, I really like hot cereals (like oatmeal or cream of wheat).

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          Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

          @anonymous: Thanks, I appreciate that.

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          Delicious lens! Good luck on the Squidoo Food Club Quest for August

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          GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

          Me thinks you've made a breakfast lover out of me! Great ideas, thanks!

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          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          Back in my cereal eating days I didn't use sugar on it either.