In our house, the look of pure joy when my kids discover that we have made “special breakfast,” as they call it, is similar to the look when they realize that summer vacation is quickly approaching. Just knowing that we took breakfast up a notch from the ordinary helps start the positive momentum leading to an all-around great day.
Why is breakfast important? Breakfast is the meal that fuels the beginning of the school day. After a rejuvenating night of sleep, the brain and body need fuel to operate. Studies have shown that kids who eat breakfast perform better academically than kids who don’t.
And what’s the best way to get the engine revved up and the body and brain ready to soar? Whole grains, fiber and protein. Why whole grains and not sugary cereal or a packaged pastry? Sugary cereals and refined grains cause a quick rise in blood sugar levels, which drop quickly. This can leave your child feeling hungry, cranky, and/or sleepy. Whole grains are absorbed by the body more slowly so that you don’t get a blood sugar spike, and they, along with fiber and protein, are more likely to keep your child’s belly feeling happy until snack time or lunch.
So, what are some “power” breakfasts that you can serve to your hungry kiddos?
- Quick scrambled eggs with a side of toast and fruit. Your kids will think you slaved over the stove making a hot breakfast, but it will be our little secret. Get these eggs done in less than two minutes while knowing you’re helping your child get a great start to the day.
- Egg on an English muffin This is such a great breakfast. We use a whole wheat English muffin. My kids love it, and the eggs can be made in advance and warmed. You can add any desired topping too. Two of my kids love cheese on their eggs, and one child just wants the egg without the muffin. You can serve it so many ways, and you can add a side of fruit. And it doubles as a great lunch. My kids like it cold and sent to school for a special lunch!
Another similar egg breakfast is a veggie egg muffin. It’s another make ahead nutrition-packed item that you can grab and go.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is such a versatile breakfast because there are so many options. One way that we recently discovered cooking it is in the oven. That way, I can start it when I wake up and not have to hover over it to make sure it isn’t boiling over in the microwave or on the stove, which has happened to me way too many times! I combine 1 cup of oatmeal, 2.5 cups of water, and a pinch of salt in a microwave-safe bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. I usually give it a stir midway through. When I take it out of the oven, I stir in about a teaspoon of butter, then I let the kids add their own toppings. Raisins, walnuts and pecans are the favorites in our house. Another option is an oatmeal bar. You may not have time to provide as many options, but pick one or two new options for your kids to experiment with different flavors when you can.
- Muffins. Muffins can be made ahead and frozen to use whenever you need them. Whether they are the focal point of the breakfast or you serve a mini muffin as a side, muffins can definitely be packed with great nutrition for your family.
- Toast. The opportunities for creating a healthy breakfast starting with a slice of whole wheat toast are practically endless.
- Smoothie–Is a drink the only thing your child has the time or tolerance for in the morning? No worries. There are tons of combinations you could try, but a few are listed below.
- Breakfast burrito– A breakfast burrito can be anything you want it to be. How about eggs, cubed ham, spinach and salsa? Or maybe eggs, homemade bacon bits, cheese and chopped up peppers? Let your on-hand ingredients inspire you.
- Nut butter and banana roll up on a whole wheat tortilla. And add other ingredients to change it up, like maybe a tiny bit of honey, or a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips, or some granola.
- What about overnight oats?
- Whole wheat pancakes served up with walnuts and fruit on top. Pancakes can be made in advance and frozen to defrost as needed.
Don’t forget about getting your child involved too. Depending on his age, he can make his own peanut butter wrap, warm up his own egg muffin, toast his own bread, whisk the eggs, etc. And if getting involved with the cooking is too much for a school morning, maybe he can help with the make ahead foods, such as overnight oats and muffins. This saves some time for you, and he’ll be more likely to eat a good breakfast if he is part of the delicious creation.