Mornings are a hectic time for busy families, but there’s a big payoff for feeding kids a nutritious breakfast. Nutrition experts say a good breakfast boosts brainpower — concentration, problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, alertness and creativity — as well as energy levels. Children who eat breakfast take in higher levels of vitamin C, calcium, iron and fiber, and, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, are more likely to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Preparing a nutritious meal when you’re trying to get out the door can seem difficult. Made-to-order omelets may not be on the menu, but there are lots of quick and easy ways to fit a delicious, nutritious breakfast into your kids’ day. Here are some great ideas for at home and on the go. Accompany these breakfast options with a glass of milk or juice and you’ll have a balanced meal sure to make everyone happy.
Oatmeal, cereals and breakfast bars
- Instant or quick-cooking oatmeal literally takes minutes in the microwave. Top it with fresh fruit such as blueberries, raspberries or banana slices or warm applesauce.
- Old-fashioned oatmeal can be cooked in the slow-cooker overnight. Before you go to bed, put the oats, water and a dash of salt in the slow-cooker and set it on low. When you wake up, your oatmeal’s ready.
- Try whole-grain cereal topped with fresh fruit.
- Keep a sealable plastic container stocked with granola, oatmeal and breakfast bars and juice boxes in your car on those days when you are on the go.
- Make a breakfast-style trail mix with whole-grain cereal, dried fruits and yogurt-covered raisins.
- Try egg sandwiches. Top a toasted whole-grain English muffin with a fried egg or a sliced hard-boiled egg, a slice of low-fat cheese and a slice of lean ham. Slip in a tomato or cucumber slice to get some veggies into your kids’ diets.
- For a breakfast burrito, wrap scrambled eggs, salsa and low-fat cheese, burrito-style, in a whole-wheat tortilla.
- For a lower-fat option, try making egg dishes with just egg whites.
Muffins and waffles
- Make breakfast pizza by topping whole-wheat English muffins with salsa and low-fat cheese. Microwave or put it in the toaster oven for a minute or two.
- Whole-grain toaster waffles are delicious topped with lite syrup and fresh strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.
- If you like to bake, keep a batch of muffins in the freezer, then just pop them in the microwave to thaw and warm them up. Look for muffin recipes that use whole grains, such as oats or whole-wheat flour.
Other nutritious morning treats
- Always be ready to make smoothies by keeping frozen, peeled bananas in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer. Blend with low-fat milk, orange juice, a little honey and maybe some other favorite frozen fruits in a blender.
- Bananas are also good on whole-grain bread with low-fat peanut butter. Get creative and make sandwiches with low-fat peanut butter and other fruits, such as strawberries or peaches.
- Parents and kids can have fun making breakfast parfaits. Layer low-fat vanilla yogurt, fresh or dried fruit and low-fat granola into a tall glass or a clear plastic cup so you can see all the layers. For variety, sprinkle with wheat germ or add a layer of your favorite whole-grain cereal.
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