Q: Is instant oatmeal as healthy for kids as the regular kind?
A: Absolutely. What makes oatmeal "instant" is that the oats are sliced thinner to cook faster. But you still get fiber-rich whole grain in every sliver. Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, suggests buying plain instant oatmeal instead of flavored packets, which have about three teaspoons of sugar (12 grams) per serving. And here's how you can make it even more nutritious:
Crank up the calcium content. Replace water with low-fat milk or evaporated skim milk for bone-building calcium. (Stick to whole milk for children under 2.) Stir in more milk or a little water if the oatmeal is too thick after microwaving.
Snag extra vitamins. Stir in chopped dried fruit to sweeten the cereal and help your child land extra nutrients.