For those of you not on TikTok, Nature’s Cereal is the latest cool thing to eat first thing in the morning. First talked about by plant-loving TikToker Wayne Mears aka @nature’s_food – it then went viral when superstar singer Lizzo tried a bowl and liked it – a lot – but, is it actually a good way to start your day? We investigated…
What is Nature’s Cereal?
It couldn’t be simpler. It’s just a mix of fruit and coconut water.
The original recipe from @nature’s_food includes pomegranate arils (the red bits inside a pomegranate that look a bit like tiny jewels – there actually called rubies in Australia), blueberries and blackberries topped with coconut water.
Lizzo created her own version by replacing the blackberries with strawberries and adding some ice to the coconut water – she then decided she was a big fan.
And boom, now it’s TikTok famous.
How to Make Nature’s Cereal
It’s so easy there isn’t even an official recipe, but looking at Nature’s_Foods’ original video
3 handfuls of pomegranate arils (I got 2 handfuls out of one pomegranate)
2 handfuls of blackberries
1 handful of blueberries
A healthy dosing of coconut water – he pours his direct from a fresh coconut
(Thanks to Wayne for letting me show the whole video here)
Lizzo’s version swaps the blackberries for strawberries and adds some ice.
Since then, all sorts of versions have appeared on TikTok – but, is it really the healthy start to the day that it looks like?
The Suggested Benefits of Nature’s Cereal
Nature’s Food says he gets ‘crazy energy’ after eating this – and feels like he could run a marathon.
How Many Calories are in Nature’s Cereal?
There’s no exact measurements on the recipe, but at a rough guess you’d be looking at around 170 calories a bowl. This is what I used when I made mine….
90g pomegranate seeds – 72 calories
130g blackberries – 55 calories
40g blueberries – 22 calories
100ml coconut water – 20 calories
Is Nature’s Cereal Healthy?
Let’s start with the positives…
It contains fruit
Plenty of it. A portion of fruit is around 80g, so depending on how much you put in, ‘you’re likely done with your fruit quota for the day before 9am,’ says registered nutritionist Angela Dowden, who I asked to check out the TikTok trend (and my co-author on our upcoming book on macro counting).
The fruits chosen are also super healthy
Berries are low GI fruits which means they turn to sugar more slowly in the body than some other fruits. On top of this,, ‘Pomegranates, blueberries and blackberries are packed with anthocyanins that have anti-inflammatory effects, keep blood vessels flexible and protect brain cells,’ says Angela. ‘All those anthocyanins make it a good brain-boosting breakfast if you’ve got a busy day coming up.’
In fact, one study from the University of Reading, for example, showed that people who started their day with a portion of blueberries actually got a boost to their brainpower later in the day.
Blueberries have also been shown to improve mood..
Pomegranates are also seriously good for you. They’re packed with vitamin C and vitamin K (which you might not have heard too much about, but it’s super important for your bones).
Some specific ingredients in pomegranates have also been shown to protect the skin against sun damage (not an excuse to skip the sunscreen, think of it as added insurance).
Lastly, pomegranates contain nitrates which increase blood flow in the body and help make exercise feel easier – maybe that’s why Mears feels he can run a marathon after eating his bowl.
It has coconut water
Which also has some health benefits attributed to it. ‘Coconut water is a rich source of blood pressure-regulating potassium,’ says Angela. It also contains antioxidants and, because it contains some salts alongside the fluid is particularly good for hydration.
That’s another reason why it might raise energy – we generally wake up dehydrated and, that’s a very common cause of fatigue. Reversing it quickly will give you a buzz.
Check out some more ways to raise your energy in this post if you think you need them.
It’s high in fibre
Fruit is naturally high in fibre, and you get an extra boost as some of these fruits also see you eating the seeds.
It’s not full of refined carbohydrates
Many of the quick breakfasts we eat, particularly of the cereal variety are made from refined carbohydrates – often with a dash of extra sugar – which are processed quickly by the body – that’s not a good thing.
You want to consume foods that are digested and turn slowly to sugar to keep your energy balanced and also, for better weight control.
However, there are some downsides…
It’s low in protein
‘This is one of the main negatives I can see,’ says Angela. ‘There’s very little protein in this breakfast and that, alongside the low calorie count means it’s unlikely to make you full for a sustained period and you may struggle to get enough protein later in the day (especially if you’re vegan).’
Protein is the building block of our body and is essential for repair and regeneration in the body. Ideally, you should consume about 30 per cent of your daily calorie intake from protein.
That’s actually pretty tough to do if you’re not eating some protein at every meal.
As Angela says, protein is also very filling and you might find that if you swap your normal breakfast for this, you might be hungry by 10.30am.
That’s not dreadful, a rumbling tummy before lunch isn’t the end of the world (there’s the intermittent fasting school of thought that says we don’t need to eat anything in the morning after all) – but, if this hunger leads to you reaching for sugary or less healthy snacks before lunch that’s not a good swap.
It’s low in calcium
‘A more traditional breakfast e.g one that includes cereal and milk or a latte, often contains plenty of calcium which we need for bone health,’ says Angela. This doesn’t give you that boost.
Don’t let it overwhelm your 5-a-day
We’re supposed to have at least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day – but, ideally, that should be skewed more towards vegetables than fruits – in other words, you should have 3 portions of vegetables and 2 of fruit. Or, in other words, for every one portion of fruit you eat a day, you should have 1.5 portions of vegetables.
If you don’t eat all your greens, starting your day with the cereal might make your day a bit fruit-heavy (although if your normal breakfast is a bowl of sugary cereal it’s a fair enough swap).
If you’re already eating 4 or more portions of vegetable a day, then you’re good to go. If not, don’t skip the ‘cereal’ – just add more veggies to the rest of your day to tip the balance and make your diet even healthier.
What Does Nature’s Cereal Taste Like?
It’s really good.
Using the pomegranate jewels is just genius as it does make it super crunchy like cereal.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of coconut water. I’d rather make the thing with milk (see below) but I could totally eat this for breakfast or a snack.
Isn’t It Just an Unblended Smoothie?
One of the criticisms of the dish is that it’s basically a smoothie before you blend it – but, that’s actually a good thing! This is healthier than consuming the same ingredients blended.
Smoothies are better than juice because they still retain some level of fibre within them, but, the blending process does mash up some of those fibres and means the calories – and sugar – are processed more quickly by your body.
It’s also more satisfying to eat fruit whole – it’s very easy to overconsume calories once they are blended.
How to Make Your Nature’s Cereal Even Healthier
So, the general feeling is that yes, Nature’s Cereal is pretty healthy, but to make it even healthier, you might want to add a few extra ingredients…
If you want to add more protein – and aren’t vegan like Lizzo – then you might want to add a big scoop of Greek Yogurt on the top which will increase the protein content – and increase your calcium.
If you are vegan, then consider adding some nuts, pumpkin seeds or flaxseed to the mix which will make it more filling.
If you want to bulk things out further, you could also add some actual cereal to the mix. Something crunchy like sugar-free granola would go really well.
To get more calcium, you could also replace coconut water with milk. I ran out of fruit so couldn’t try this but I think it would be so good. Or serve it with a latte or glass of milk on the side.
If you’re vegan you could replace the coconut water with fortified-alt milk. Or, again serve a latte or chai latte made with this on the side.
In the original video, Mears uses the liquid from inside of a fresh coconut, which is low in sugar, some packaged coconut waters contain added sugars.
If you use one of these in the mix your nature’s cereal becomes more like processed cereal!
Make sure you pick unsweetened coconut water (and don’t get confused with coconut milk which is high in fat and calories)
Oh and don’t worry if you can’t get fresh fruit or it gets a bit pricey. You can buy blueberries and blackberries frozen in most supermarkets – and they’re just as good for you as fresh ones.
Pomegranate Preparation Warning!
If you can buy the pomegranate ready ‘shucked’ – usually known as Pomegranate Jewels or Rubies depending where you live do so, otherwise there’s a chance your kitchen will end up looking like something out of a crime scene!
I got juice all over the surface, up the walls, all over my phone, on my glasses!
Check out my Tiktok post on some of the mess (I don’t have one for this account, only my travel blog – if you like travelling feel free to give it a follow!)
If you don’t want to look like an extra from Dexter, check out this video that I should have watched first on how to get the seeds out of a pomegranate without creating carnage!
If you like the sound of this recipe, also have a lot at the rest of Natures_food’s TikTok – there’s some fantastic fruit dishes on there.