You’ve heard it before, but it’s true: breakfast is such an important meal! It gets your metabolism going, keeps you focused, and sets the tone for the day. You AND your kids should make it a priority to eat a great breakfast each day, including protein, whole grains, healthy fats and minimal added sugar. Here are some tips for starting your day off right:
Call in the detectives! I wrote about the Cereal Detective game which is a great way to help kids really visualize how much sugar is in some cereals. Play this with your kids, and they’ll definitely steer clear of the Froot Loops in favor of Cheerios! Be on the look at for artificial ingredients and dyes, read more! Also, for fun, let kids mix a variety of cereals into one bowl for a fun, crunchy morning sensation and serve with low-fat milk or dairy alternatives, including rice, soy or almond milks for a calcium boost.
Whole grains make great breakfasts. Oatmeal (made from plain rolled oats—not the sweetened, flavored packets) is a popular choice, but not the only one. Quinoa usually served savory, is delicious made sweet with raisins and cinnamon. Whole grains provide filling fiber, which helps to regulate your appetite.
Get your protein. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, which helps keep you full longer, but all yogurt isn’t created equally. Make sure to read the ingredient labels to stay clear of added sugars, food dyes and preservatives, read more about the recent update on artificial dyes! And, be sure that the yogurt you are purchasing contains live and active cultures which are important probiotics for good digestive health. If the yogurt doesn’t contain these cultures, it’s not yogurt. Make my homemade granola, page 52 in Appetite for Life, and have the whole family make Yogurt Sundaes, page 176. Almond butter on whole grain bread is another yummy way to get your morning protein fix.
Healthy fats. Kids love eggs, so make sure your eggs contain omega-3 fatty acids that boost brain power. This is made possible when the chicken eats a high omega-3 fatty acid diet. Scrambled, sunny-side up and hard-cooked are favorites with the kids at HealthBarn USA. Also, add ground flaxseeds to muffins, pancakes, cereals and yogurt for a good boost of brain food.
Try something special! My Sweet Potato Pancakes are a big hit with kids and adults alike. The deliciously nutritious sweet potatoes mix with whole grains for a hearty breakfast. Think you don’t have time to make pancakes during the week? Think again! These pancakes can be frozen and defrosted throughout the week.
Not Hungry for Breakfast? Smoothies are easy to make and a great way to get added nutrition first thing in the morning on the go! I have found that children and adults who aren’t hungry in the morning, will not pass up a delicious smoothie!
Here’s Appetite for Life‘s famous Rainbow Swirly Smoothie — scoring double thumbs up by thousands of kids: It’s so easy, refreshing and vitamin-packed that parents love it, too. Blend this yummy smoothie up for breakfast or share it with friends for a high-energy, after-school snack. It’s loaded with vitamin C to help keep your body running strong, it’s a good source of calcium, and it has fiber to keep your digestive system regular. Drink up!
1½ cups frozen strawberries (can substitute frozen blueberries or raspberries) 1 banana, cut in half 1 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt ¾ cup calcium-fortified orange juice 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds 1 teaspoon honey
Place all ingredients in blender; blend until smooth.
Pour into glasses.
Makes 4 servings (1 cup per serving).
Nutrition Facts per serving: 120 calories; 2.5g total fat (0.5g sat fat, 1g poly, 0g trans fat); 5mg cholesterol; 22g carbohydrate (3g fiber, 12g sugar); 4g protein; 40mg sodium; 4% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 70% DV vitamin C; 15% DV calcium; 2% DV iron.
Stacey Antine, MS, RDN, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, director, HealthBarn Foundation, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.