A good breakfast can affect the rest of your day, so plan to fortify your family with well-balanced nutrition in the morning. Kids who eat healthy breakfasts perform better in school, and parents concentrate better at work, according to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. Make morning meals fun to eat, nourishing, satisfying, and even portable when necessary to ensure nobody skips breakfast.
Quick sugary breakfasts like donuts or sugar-frosted cereals, and high-fat meats like bacon or sausage may relieve hunger sensations for a while, but they wear off fast. The gradual release of energy from whole grains and from complex carbohydrates in fruits has more staying power, as does protein from eggs or yogurt. A large omelet stuffed with shredded cheese and veggies left over from last night’s dinner can be divvied up to feed the whole family. Serve it with whole-grain toast triangles along with some orange slices and fresh strawberries for an easy-to-prepare, appealing morning wake-up.
The gym sneakers are missing, the teen overslept and the school bus is coming — all before a mouthful of breakfast. What do you feed the troops who are dashing for the bus stop or piling into the car for the ride to school? A banana plus a cereal bar or energy bar can be handed out at the door, and provide protein, fiber, complex carbs and fats. Read the labels on energy bars to avoid the high-fat, high-sugar versions so you don’t add unneeded calories to good nutrition. A container of yogurt with fruit is portable, and a quick sprinkle of some granola over the top adds more fiber. Try fruit and low-fat yogurt smoothies in snap-on-lid go-cups. An egg sandwich on a whole grain English muffin is manageable in a car seat or at the bus stop. For little ones, a 100-percent-fruit juice box or a sippy cup with diluted fruit juice hydrates them before their busy day.
A child with very particular tastes, i.e. not what you were serving, can be a morning challenge. Keep that stubborn little soul well-fed with some end runs around breakfast refusals. One powerful secret weapon is muffins. Orange-cranberry muffins baked with half whole grains and half unbleached flours are yummy and irresistible. They also contain good carbs and lots of healthy fiber to ward off late morning hunger pangs. Replace liquid in the recipe with orange juice for extra vitamin C. Sneak in some fruits and veggies with zucchini muffins that contain apples, applesauce and shredded zucchini. Dipping and dunking are fun things to do first thing in the morning, so cut up apples, carrots and steamed broccoli florets, and arrange them around a cup of mildly fruity low-fat yogurt dip or creamy salad dressing. Whole-grain buttered toast soldiers to dip into a runny soft-boiled egg make quick work of the egg without a peep from the Fussy One.
Carbs with Your Coffee
To lock in a healthy breakfast habit, it helps to make consistent good choices. In general, avoid sugar in all forms. Choose meals like yogurt with blueberries or banana, whole-grain cereals with low-fat milk, egg-white scrambles with whole-grain toast spread with peanut butter, or green smoothies with wheat germ topping. Steel-cut oatmeal can be prepared the night before and reheated in the microwave to save time. Just mix in some raisins before reheating, or top it with cinnamon and fresh peach slices. Some days your balanced breakfast may compensate for missed or less-than-healthy meals at other times of the day, so make it count for you and the kids. Treat yourself to that essential cup of coffee but don’t let it become a substitute for a nutritious morning meal.