While all sorts of nutrition fads come and go, one thing will never change: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Children who eat breakfast perform and behave better in school (because they’re not hungry and cranky), consume more calcium, fiber and vitamins than those who skip breakfast, and tend to eat less fat and cholesterol than their friends who miss this valuable meal. Breakfast eaters tend to have healthier body weights, and this is true for adult men, women and children in all age groups.
Of course, we’re all focused on the quality of our children’s school lunches right now, but those menus will take time to change. One simple thing you can do to instantly improve your child’s health is to put breakfast on the table (or in his hands as he races out the door). Sound like a challenge? It’s not, with a little planning and some creativity.
Breakfast foods tend to be ones children like, and recent research shows that children are more likely to try new foods if they’re involved in preparing them. This is a great finding, since you want your children to know what they’re eating; it opens their minds, feeds their curiosity and begins to educate them about the diversity of foods, cuisines and cultures.
So, here are ten healthy, quick-to-make breakfast suggestions to get you started. Older children can make these recipes themselves. The younger ones will just need a little help from Mom or Dad.
1. Berry-Fresh Parfait: This can be a fun recipe to make together! It can be prepared the night before, too. Put it in a plastic cup, if breakfast needs to be eaten in the car or on the bus. Just layer your child’s favorite flavor of low-sugar yogurt with granola and colorful fruit like strawberries, kiwi, blueberries or peaches. Small children can help by adding pre-sliced fruit to the cup or bowl.
2. Oatmeal Happy Face: Oatmeal can go from “yucky” to “yummy” by adding some fun faces made with raisins, bits of dried apricots, cherries and nuts. Just serve plain old fashioned oatmeal in a bowl, and give your child the option of creating a fun face on top with dried fruit and nuts. When the “artwork” is complete, add a bit of maple syrup, and watch breakfast be devoured!
3. Wrap It Up! Eggs and cheese rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla is a nutritious “to-go” breakfast. The egg and cheese mix can even be scrambled the night before. Just put it in a sealed container. When you’re ready to wrap and roll, warm the eggs and cheese, put some into the tortilla, and you’re done!
4. 3-Minute Muesli: This 3-minute recipe is super-healthy and fun to make with kids. The recipe lasts for three days, so it’s ready whenever you are! Check out my recipe and “how-to” video at http://www.voiceofreason.net/.
5. Mmm-Mmm-Good Muffins: Kids love to stir, so helping make oatmeal-blueberry, corn-peach muffins will be lots of fun for them. Scooping batter into muffin cups is also a safe and easy way to get kids involved in cooking.
6. Pile-O-Fruit: Always keep mixed, fresh, cut fruit on hand. Scooped into a bowl and drizzled with honey (and maybe topped with granola), fruit makes a delicious breakfast.
7. Way-To-Go-Waffle: Whole grain waffles are a good source of nutrition. Topped with sliced bananas or berries, this colorful meal is irresistible!
8. Cereal: Low sugar cereals can be made more exciting (and tasty) with the addition of berries, nuts, dried fruit or whatever else your child might like. Just have healthy “add-ins” on hand, and he’ll feel proud when he creates his own concoction of goodies.
9. Shake-Rattle-‘n’-Roll: Nothing is quicker than a shake make with milk, fruit and honey. The natural sweetness is irresistible! Just have your child pick the types of fruit she’d like, control the “on” and “off” switches of the blender, and voila! She’ll be drinking her fruit in no time.
10. Bagel-icious: Whole grain bagels, whole grain English muffins and raisin bread are each tempting when slathered with peanut butter, apple and pear butter or other preserves. High in protein, this is a dynamite way to start the day!