Non-GMO Versions of Grape Nuts and Cheerios Less Nutritious Than GMO Versions


Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health professor Marion Nestle noted on her blog this week that the non-GMO versions of Cheerios and Grape Nuts are less nutritious than the GMO versions. Why? Nestle says,

It’s hard to find non-GMO vitamins (who knew?).  Vitamins, it seems are often produced from genetically engineered microorganisms, or from microbes growing in fermentation tanks that are fed a nutrient mix that contains ingredients from GM sugar beets or corn.

Not that the presence or absence of GMOs matters all that much from a nutritional perspective. Nestle noted, “Cheerios are essentially a vitamin pill wrapped in rapidly absorbable starch.”

At the massive natural food expo, I attended earlier this month, I saw a lot of unhealthy foods with a “non-GMO” label. In the case of Cheerios and Grape Nuts, the “non-GMO” label is either a marketing gimmick or an attempt to start a voluntary labeling program to head off voter mandated efforts.

Here’s where you can help. I need to kick my Grape Nuts crack habit and find a healthier breakfast alternative. Any suggestions?

Note from Mrs. Homegrown:  This post took me by surprise. Erik has eaten Gravel Nuts–I mean, Grape Nuts–for breakfast since I’ve know him (and for who knows how long before that) and that, my friends, is a long, long time.  If we are what we eat, Erik must be half composed of Grape Nuts. I can hardly imagine this new era of breakfasts which lays before us! We are up to our elbows in eggs this time of year, so I’m going to back those of you who suggested egg breakfasts.

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  1. My two favorite breakfast options since I kicked my own cereal problem:

    1. a cup of coffee

    2. eggs

    Both are major improvements.

  2. We love hot cereal and one of our favorites is Bob’s Red Mill oat bran cereal. It can be changed up every day with different add ins of fruit and nuts.

  3. Hi Erik,

    I used to eat oatmeal, but got bored. Milk didn’t agree with me either. I try to get around the GMO thing by using as many organic ingredients as possible. I came up with this —

    In a 3 quart pot, soak overnight or up to a few days – per Sandor Katz, it ferments and makes nutrients more available. It also makes it creamier and tastier. – 1 c. each rye, oats, barley (from bulk bins)

    next morning add:
    3/4 c. ground almonds
    cayenne powder
    ground flax

    top up pot with water

    cook 15 min, or until done/thickened

    add dried fruit when done:
    chopped apricots
    chopped prunes

    Apple cider vinegar

    I make this about once a week, reheating a bowl each morning as needed.

  4. I make granola. If you go to and run “granola” through the search function, you have the delightful choice of dozens of recipes. I make about a gallon at a time and keep in on the counter in a penny candy jar, so all family members can help themselves. Over time, you’ll customize your recipe to your own taste. I like plenty of walnuts, pepitas, and dried fruit in mine.

  5. Although I know making your own granola is supposed to be really easy, I don’t. There are only so many things I have time to make myself, and with so many organic muesli options in the bulk bins at our favorite grocery store I choose to go with those. I can’t remember the brand that our store sells though. And they’re a local mini-chain, so none down by you. But Whole Foods or Sprouts would have something similar I think.

  6. I gave up on cereal a while ago. Eggs, coffee and a green smoothie are my go to these days. If I need something in a bowl, oatmeal or flax seed with raisins and yogurt usually do the trick.

    I get it though, I love the taste of grapenuts and miss them still Good luck on your quest to find a better breakfast!

    Also, I find left overs make a good breakfast some morning. Blame lazy college habits that refuse to die, poor etiquette and protocol, etc. but some days, left overs really hit the spot.

  7. These millet-rice flakes are my personal favorite, crunchy and certified organic.–ECO-PAC/p/NPA-770084&[email protected]
    Our local stores sell them here in Canada.

    I was not sure if you were trying to find a new cereal, or a non-cereal breakfast food. The above cereals are just as habit-forming as what you’re eating now. Lately, I only buy them as a treat, and most days, for frugal reasons, I make oatmeal porridge, adding crunchy stuff such as nuts and seeds, after cooking.

  8. I use the Muesli recipe from Nourishing Traditions. I set it up on the counter the night before and it cooks up in 2 minutes in the morning. Other days we have eggs and homemade muffins. I use my grandmother’s recipe, which only uses 2 Tbl of sugar and makes a dozen regular muffins, not the giant sugar fests the coffee shops sell. It is easy to adapt one of these old muffin recipes to use whole grains, nuts, home-canned or dried fruit or what-have-you. My husband also likes homemade cornbread in rice milk, eaten like a cereal.

  9. I’d rather avoid the “fortifying” vitamins, anyway, as they tend to be less bioavailable than food-based nutrition. If you like the taste of your GMO-free grapenuts, then by all means eat them, and just also pop a spoonful of Brewer’s yeast and a dried apricot or something. You’ll most likely come out ahead in the nutrition department.

  10. I have given up on boxed cereal. Soy is in everything. Even though it might be “just a little bit,” the cumulative effect is a worry to me. I like to eat two eggs, scrambled each morning. They help solve my hypoglycemia for about four to six hours. I always have oj and milk. I either have bacon with my scrambled eggs or cheese mixed in.

    I know where my hens have been and what they have been eating.

    A bowl of leftover spaghetti, pizza, field peas, or turnip greens sets well at breakfast. Turnip greens don’t hold me long, but they are good and good for me. Sometimes, I heat up a baked sweet potato and have baked chicken…yum.

  11. I used to love grape nuts. I even ate it dry with raisins as a snack.

    Anyway, I now soak and ferment rolled oats for 24 hours in a mix of water and viili and have that with breakfast most days. It’s great with a bit of maple syrup or honey.

  12. I’m a big fan of barley; I soak it for a bit then cook until it’s just done (the grains are cooked, chewy but firm). I like the flavor of oatmeal, but not the *glop* factor. The separate grains of barley work well in many ways: blueberries, pecans & maple syrup or as a hearty salad with roasted sweet potatoes, marinated kale and queso fresco. This humble grain has been tossed aside for quinoa etc. in the rush for all the new and hip whole foods, but its inexpensive, flexible and tasty.

    • Agree 100% I like to use it instead of rice in several favorite dishes and it is very tasty, chewy and satisfying. Somehow it has never made it to the breakfast table except in the form of leftovers. Sounds like a great idea!

  13. I would suggest a variety of items.

    Ukma is made from lentils (Indian breakfast)…There are also dosa and sambar, idli, chapatti and omlette (eggs with green chili, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt, cilantro and finely diced onion (with achar on the side).
    Dosa and idli are made from rice flour. Chapatti are made from durham wheat flour.
    You could also do what my daughter does, homemade yogurt, banana and wheat germ “sprinkles.” They taste awesome and it is good for the gut.
    Bon appetite.

  14. Many thanks all for the breakfast suggestions! A lot of good ideas here–keep them coming!

  15. Since steel-cut oats don’t become gooey when warmed over, I get out my biggest pot and make up a triple recipe, adding flax meal and cinnamon, and warm a bowl each morning to eat with milk and different fruit each day; with cinnamon I feel no temptation to add sugar. The oatmeal keeps three weeks in the fridge.

  16. I second all the oat-based suggestions above (oatmeal, muesli, granola). Sometimes I just forage in the pantry to see what I can find to go with the oats–like Mackey said: raisins, sunflower seeds, nuts, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, etc. Everything goes in a bowl with milk, just like cereal would.

    For my money, though, nothing has the staying power of oatmeal. With breakfast cereals (even grapenuts), I would normally be hungry by 10:30 or 11:00, but my bucket of oats can keep me going right into the afternoon if need be.

  17. I got this breakfast idea from the blog “Oh She Glows” and I love it.
    I mash one banana in a pyrex bowl, then add 1/3 c. of rolled outs, about a tablespoon of chia seeds, and 1 c. of milk. I mix it up and let it sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I eat it cold, with dried fruit and nuts added in if I feel like it.

  18. “Marketing Gimmick” is best description for Non-GMO Cherrios, since oats haven’t been genetically engineered yet…

  19. Homemade yogurt + seasonal fruit + nuts & (optional) raisins is my favorite breakfast of all time—fresh, healthy, and delicious. My husband kicked the cereal habit a couple of years ago, so now we go through a lot more yogurt!

  20. Who says you have to eat traditional breakfast-type food in the morning? Sometimes we do, but in summer we’ll just as often have a salad with whatever is in the garden – plus some hard-boiled eggs on top or even left over soup from dinner. Maybe this is a chance to challenge the grains-for-breakfast tyranny.

    • I just reread my comment: no, we don’t put left-over soup on top of our salad.

      I’ll try not to mangle English again today.

  21. Since the poster mentioned Cheerios , I would just like to give my two cents :)…They aren’t like they were when my child ate them as a toddler( as a finger-food training snack/breakfast item)…they now contain triphosphate,,,and many people have posted online about the horrendous smelling burps and gas experienced. I encourage readers to research ingredients and claims online as I did, and contact companies who put us, and more importantly, our kids at risk.

    • sigh…sorry Trisodium phosphate is the harmful ingredient I meant to say…thanks 🙂

  22. Thanks for the post, Eric. I’m looking forward to trying some of the suggestions from the other comments.

    Sorry this is kind of long, but I want to share my experience with baked oatmeal because it has really improved my mornings—particularly by making it easy to get enough protein at breakfast. It’s my standard for office days (eggs are the mainstay for the other days). My husband is now giving it a try instead of the Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes he has been eating, which are too expensive even in the big bag, and have added sweetener as seems to be the case with most every other organic cereal.

    My recipe is adapted mostly from Tracie Hittman’s Baked Oatmeal recipe (, unfortunately the recipe isn’t on her site), with help from other things I found online, particularly a version on The nice thing about this is that it’s pretty flexible—I change proportions at will, add nuts or fruit, and it still works out fine. Most recipes call for baking powder, but I leave it out because it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

    The gelatin is organic porcine non-hydrolized (from; similar to Knox). A vegetarian version w/o gelatin would probably work, just might need to adjust the liquid. Tracie’s recipe has more gelatin, sweetener, and coconut oil than mine. She also suggests buttermilk as an alternative to milk w/lemon juice (apparently either method makes the oats easier to digest).

    The best part is, I make a big batch on Sunday, slice it into servings, and put it in the fridge. For breakfast, I take a portion, put it in a glass dish, cut it up a bit (the gelatin makes it quite solid), add some milk, cover, and heat it in the toaster oven while I do something else. It softens nicely when warmed up. The cold, solid squares also make a good snack. Everything I use is organic, much of it local, and I just feel great about eating this stuff!

    Here’s my usual recipe. Makes 8 me-size servings, 6 husband-size servings.

    2 cups regular rolled oats (not instant; you can experiment with ½ of it as steel cut oats, I like the rolled better)
    2 cups whole milk
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    4 eggs (beaten)
    1/8 cup coconut oil or butter (melted)
    1/4 cup grade B maple syrup (the dark stuff, hubby is up north making more right now)
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    3 tbsp gelatin (non-hydrolized will make it solid; hydrolyzed is also an option but I’ve never used it so I don’t know how it would be different)
    1/2 tsp sea salt
    2 tsp ground cinnamon
    Optional, and yummy: 2 fresh apples, diced; or a handful of chopped dried apple slices; 1/4 cup chopped nuts

    Soak oats, milk, and lemon juice overnight or for most of the day.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Grease a 9” x 13” baking dish (or smaller, deeper one for thicker, moister pieces)
    Add beaten eggs, vanilla, and syrup to soaked oats.
    Mix gelatin, salt, and cinnamon and stir into oats. Add some water to the mixture if it seems too dry.
    Pour mixture into baking dish, bake for 20-30 minutes (depends on your oven and how much liquid you want cooked out). I’m looking forward to trying this in the solar oven once winter releases its grip on Wisconsin.

  23. As a long time cereal addict I recommend mixing your favorites. I get bulk gronala ( made locally here in Oregon), Barbara’s oat squares, and cinnamen flax flakes from natures path. Great mix, lots of good texture, and non GMO. So many choices. Grape nuts are tooth breakers as well so might be a good habit to lose. My 2 cents.

  24. Very interesting concept. Although I would have to question the digestibility of those GMO vitamins.

    My breakfast is a high-protein one: usually a sausage and raw fermented sauerkraut, or an egg casserole of some kind with whatever veggies and cheese I have on hand. I like making a casserole dish of it at the start of the week and then just reheating each morning’s serving throughout the week.

    I find that I can go all morning and most of the afternoon without getting hungry again (after a few weeks of transition). The carb thing had me hungry after just a couple of hours.

  25. I was surprised to find that general mills actually produces cherrios with different indregients specifically to be sold at and meet the quality standards at whole foods. Id need to do more research to find out what ingredients specifically but they wont carry products with artificial sweetners colors or preservatives so its probably one of those.

    • Interesting. The big food retailers (Whole Foods included) wield enormous power with manufacturers.

  26. Here’s a granola recipe I discovered last summer. I love it because the only sweetener is the maple syrup. It’s so hard to avoid added sugar in breakfast foods (even the organic and “natural” ones), so this is refreshing. You can eat it with milk or with plain yogurt.

    I’m not sure if you’re an oatmeal guy, but oatmeal is my go-to for myself and my son in the mornings (my husband can’t stand it). It’s so versatile…I usually add a fruit according to what season it is (raisins, apples, pears, peaches, etc) and a spice (cinnamon, garam masala, grains of paradise, etc). I’ve also added hemp seeds, unsweetened coconut, cacao nibs, nuts…the possibilities are endless! Hope this helps!

  27. All these oatmeal recipes reminded me how unenthused I usually am with oatmeal in the morning, no matter how hard I try to like it. That got me thinking about if there are any savory oatmeal recipes out there. Behold:
    Cooking up a pot right now to try some topped with a fried egg.

    My usual breakfast right now is a green smoothie, followed by a fried egg/beans/greens thing. I have also done the two-ingredient pancakes before, sometimes adding canned pumpkin:

  28. Pingback: Non-GMO Versions of Grape Nuts and Cheerios Less Nutritious Than GMO Versions | WHOLE LIVING WEB MAGAZINE: GREEN LIVING

  29. I eat granola almost every morning. It is easy to make and you can add a variety of grains to it to make it more diverse. I don’t think I could go back to normal cereal!

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