Weekday mornings are an effort. I struggle to get up early enough to do everything I need to. I make my lunch, practice yoga, get the kids snacks ready, shower, get them up and ready for school. Then I still feed them a semi-healthy meal. They also get breakfast at school. For some reason I can’t let them leave the house in the morning without having a few bites. And boy, they seem to linger for 20 minutes at breakfast. Here are my tips for busy moms or dads:
- Vary the breakfasts each day. Toast with peanut butter one day, bagel another day. I’ll also make yogurt with granola, cinnamon raisin toast, oatmeal- for some reason always on a Wednesday- and save the cereal for a Friday treat. The girls tend to eat better when it’s a breakfast they didn’t have the day or two before.
- Include fruit- every day. We always have berries on hand, bananas, oranges, frozen mango, melon or anything else in season. Every breakfast I include some sort of fruit. It has fiber, is sweet enough so they’ll eat it, and is guilt free.
- Whole grains are important. Make sure their toast has some whole grains in it. White flour is digested the same as sugar. It’ll make them hungry again before you know it. Serving whole grains is healthier for the heart and digestive system. I try to put nut butter on it when they allow me to. Whole grains, protein and fruit is quick and guilt-free. Any parent can feel good about giving that to their kids before a long day at school.
- Oatmeal is deeeelicious. My kids say they hate oatmeal. But I make it once a week and they usually eat it up. I put cinnamon and maple syrup in it while it’s cooking. I like to add frozen blueberries and a few walnuts as well. I am happy to use soy milk, cow’s milk or almond milk. The girls always ask for chocolate chips so once in a while I’ll throw those in. More often than not, the oatmeal disappears and I leave for work feeling like a mom of the year.
- Make something original and call it special. My girls love my “special breakfast.” I developed it once when I wanted to give them a treat but have it be as healthy as can be. My “special” breakfast starts with a few whole oats and a splash of juice to soften them. I’ll throw in some nuts or sunflower seeds before adding yogurt and sliced banana. The toppings consist of other fruit like berries or mango, a drizzle of honey, a sprinkling of granola or cereal. It is pretty, scrumptious and nutritious. Best of all, when I make it the girls feel I love them.
- For variety, use frozen waffles. I like the Kashi Whole Grain type. It is easy, quick and healthy to serve with a mound of blueberries.
- Healthy smoothies! Don’t underestimate the nutritional value a blender provides. I am fortunate to have a top of the line Vitamix. That sucker will grind anything into a pulp. I do a formulaic approach to smoothies. Bananas and dates are used to sweeten it. A green (spinach or lettuce0 is for nutrition. I use frozen berries for color, nutrition and an icy texture. Finally I’ll add soy or nut milk, yogurt or avocado for creaminess. You can also add water or juice for liquids. If it’s not sweet enough add honey or maple syrup if you like. Flax seeds and oats can be added for extra nutrition. The key is that it is tasty. It can be tasty without being unhealthy. When I make a smoothie, I also give them toast or a bagel. Often they drink all the smoothy and eat only a few bites of the toast. For a detailed recipe, check out my post on a delicious chocolate smoothie recipe here.
Kids can be slow to get going in the mornings but breakfast doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t have to sacrifice health to get kids to eat. They will eat what food is there if they are hungry. Provide a variety and talk to kids about the nutritional value. This helps let them choose for themselves what to eat. Now, if anyone has tips for encouraging them to drink more water, please let me know in the comments! Happy eating everyone!