Find ways to create breakfasts that are quick and simple, yet pack a powerfully nutritious punch.
"The key to providing nutritious breakfasts on school mornings is to plan ahead," says Natalie E. Cornell, a certified health counselor and founder of Cornell Health and Nutrition. "You can't eat it if it's not in the house, so healthy fast meals start with the shopping list and then move into the grocery store."
Cornell says that school-aged kids need protein in the morning. "Pop-Tarts and sugary things are especially bad because your child will experience a crash about two hours after breakfast and will be too tired and hungry to be able to pay attention in class," she says.
Cornell suggest these easy things you can do in advance to make your mornings run smoother and provide your kids with a breakfast of champions.
When you get home from the store or have a free minute, hard boil three to four eggs. Keep them in the fridge with their shells on for up to a week. When your kids are ready to eat them, peel under running water to make it easier.
During the weekend when you have more time in the morning, make pancakes or waffles and make extras. You can put the extra in the fridge or freeze and warm up/toast during the week. Try to find mixes that have whole grains by reading the ingredient list and not the front label, which can be misleading.
If your kids don't like plain yogurt, stir in some vanilla extract and a little honey or maple syrup. You can stir everything together in the same container and keep it in the fridge for a tasty, healthy breakfast treat.
Make a fruit compote for waffles or pancakes: cook two cups of frozen blueberries, a quarter cup of sugar and half a cup of water until boiling. Reduce heat and cook until the blueberries start to break apart. Let cool and store in the fridge for up to a week. This way you avoid the high fructose corn syrup in the fake syrups and you don't have to pay for expensive real maple syrup.
Stock up on frozen fruit which can be thawed with running cold water in about three minutes. And keep nuts in the kitchen, especially almonds, walnuts and pistachios, all of which can be added to cereal, oatmeal or yogurt.
Once you've stocked your refrigerator and prepared these items in advance, Cornell recommends these shortcuts to healthy breakfasts in a snap.
Quick cooking oatmeal takes about six minutes on the stove and tastes better than the microwave stuff. If you don't have six minutes, make microwave oatmeal and add milk. Top with your favorites: honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, nuts and berries or apple slices.
Set up a yogurt sundae bar for the kids with yogurt, nuts and fruit or fruit compote. Put everything on the counter and let your kids pick the things they like.
Use peanut, almond or sunflower butter for the added protein. Kids can roll up the pancakes and eat them with their hands; add jelly if they like the sweetness.
Try peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat toast cut into triangles.
Add a little salt or allspice to your peeled hardboiled eggs for a great breakfast that kids can eat on the go.
Whip up a quick breakfast smoothie with milk, frozen or fresh fruit, some protein powder or one tablespoon per serving of peanut butter (especially good with bananas) and ice cubes. Stick a straw in it and go out the door. Kids younger than 12 shouldn't have the full adult portion of protein powder, so read the label and use no more than half an adult serving.
With a little planning, shopping and some prep work, schoolday mornings can be easier for mums who want to provide nutritious breakfasts for their kids.
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