Better Beginnings Start With… Breakfast
Much has been said about how beneficial it can be to start you child’s day off right with a nourishing meal. And for some, just having a meal in the morning can be a battle of time, picky eaters, or mobility. It can be a challenge for any parent, but the reward can be a more attentive and prepared child ready to greet their day with their brain cells firing on all cylinders.
For the time challenged, prior preparation is often key. Make sure whatever your child likes to eat is ready for quick consumption. Get out your cereal, have the toaster handy, make or purchase energy bars and you are that many steps closer to your goal.
For those who need to move quickly in the morning for into the car, bus, or on foot (there are some walkers to school like us, right?), make breakfast portable. Buy single serve milk or juice boxes. Bag your cereal and add granola, almonds, or other nuts to up their protein content. Yogurt is quick and more healthier “tube” options are now available for the truly mobile parent and child team. A quick omelet can be made in the microwave with an egg, some cheese, and some veggies. Roll it into a tortilla, whole grain English muffin or pita. Use up leftover pancakes -add some jelly or fruit sauce. Waffles make great sandwiches as well. Bagels, a big favorite, can be spread with peanut butter or almond butter and topped with fruit slices. Cream cheese lover? Puree fruit and blend, or add honey and cinnamon. Grab an apple, pear or orange and slice if you need to for the smaller kids. Make your own granola clusters and mix with raisins, chocolate chips, or nuts.
For the picky eater (who may also have time or travel issues) start with what they like. One small child I know has cheese and fruit skewers some mornings. If they want leftover pizza, great! Make pizza on bagel thins or mini bagels the night before. Add some fruit on the side and send them on their way. Or make a fruit pizza with cream cheese and blueberries, strawberries or another favorite.
Breakfast drinks are not the ideal, but for some a necessity to get them to have anything. Add protein powder or dried milk powder to a drink. Smoothies are always a great way to sneak in nutrition. Not a milk drinker? Add milk powder to the smoothie. Make their oatmeal with milk instead of water. Try and include a fruit, a whole grain and some dairy for balance.
The best way to achieve any of the above? For you, the parent, to set your own good example. If research has proven how much better a day goes for a child, think of how much better your day would be if you started it off well nourished?
Laura Zurita is a registered dietitian and Montgomery County mom of one. Her and her family love hiking, watching Chopped on the Food Network, and are avid Philadelphia Phillies fans.