How to Enjoy Whole Grain Cereal without added Sugars or Dairy


When it comes to creating new healthy lifestyle habits, I work in stages, to avoid overwhelming myself and to hopefully encourage permanent change. For diet that means starting with what comes first, breakfast.

My goal for the New Year is to continue cutting back on added sugars, whether in the form of honey, maple, or plain old sugar. I want to enjoy a daily sweet treat, but keep the sugars where they belong, in dessert. For my first step, I’ve enacted a no added sugars before noon policy to help me avoid a crash early in the day, and start my day off right with a healthy breakfast.

Plant-Based Whole Grain Cereal with No Added Sugars and No Dairy - Tips and Recipe (Vegan with Gluten-Free option)

How to Enjoy Whole Grain Cereal without added Sugars or Dairy

Added sugars hide in many breakfast foods, including that so-called “healthy” breakfast cereal. That said, switching from a sweetened cereal to unsweetened whole grains can be a shock to the taste buds. To ease into it, I add fresh fruit, cinnamon, dried fruit when I need an extra sweet-hit, and sometimes a wee bit of stevia to unsweetened milk alternative. This livens up the flavors, and sometimes makes me forget that I’m eating a healthy breakfast!

If you aren’t quite ready for the low sugar, fruit-sweetened option in my plant-based whole grain cereal recipe below, then I have a few other ease-into-it solutions for you:

  • Buy unsweetened rice or grain milk, which naturally contains more sugars and is sweeter, or try the “original” version of a milk alternative (almond, coconut, soy, flax, sunflower seed, or hemp). They are usually lightly sweetened (6 grams of sugars per cup seems to be the norm), but still contain less sugars than dairy milk (yes, the lactose in milk is a type of sugar!).
  • Add just 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of your favorite sweetener to the cereal. Using an unsweetened cereal allows you to control the sugars on your own. You can gradually reduce the amount of added sugars you have as your taste buds adapt. One teaspoon of plain old sugar contains 4 grams of sugars.
  • Try a “starter” cereal. The cereal aisle holds a wide range of sugars, so if you aren’t ready for sugar-free, start with a low sugar option.

But don’t be afraid to dive right in with the idea below. This plant-based whole grain cereal “recipe” is really more of a throw together that allows you to enjoy a little sweetness in the morning without added sugars.

Plant-Based Whole Grain Cereal with No Added Sugars and No Dairy - Tips and Recipe (Vegan with Gluten-Free option)

Special Diet Notes: Plant-Based Whole Grain Cereal

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, optionally nut-free, optionally peanut-free, soy-free, added sugar-free, vegan, and vegetarian.

Whole Grain Breakfast Cereal with No Added Sugar or Dairy
Prep time
Total time
I add nut or seed butter to my cereal, as I like the granola vibe it contributes to the crunchy flakes and also find that the little extra dose of protein and fat helps this breakfast fuel me until lunch. If you need even more energy, feel free to use 2 tablespoons of nut or seed butter. I sweeten the milk beverage just lightly with stevia to balance out the sugar without added sugars. It doesn't create an overwhelming stevia taste in this small amount.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 serving
  • ¾ cup uncle sam original cereal (can sub unsweetened, whole grain, gluten-free cereal)
  • 2 tablespoons raisins (can sub another chopped unsweetened dried fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened nut or seed butter (my favorites are almond, sunflower, and peanut)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt (omit if using salted nut or seed butter)
  • ½ cup unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage, or as needed
  • 3 to 5 drops vanilla liquid stevia (can increase if using more milk alternative)
  • 1 small or half a large banana, diced
  1. Combine the cereal, raisins, nut or seed butter, cinnamon, and salt in your cereal bowl.
  2. Top with diced banana.
  3. Sweeten the milk with stevia, if desired, and pour over cereal.
  4. Dig in.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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