Sep 1, 2011

Back to School Breakfasts

One of my greatest challenges is finding breakfast food my picky eater will consume in a reasonable amount of time on a school day morning. A lot of ideas I see online and in magazines are definitely quick and easy, but don't offer enough protein to get my child through the morning. This is why I avoid waffles, pancakes, and similar foods. So what can you serve that's quick, healthy, and lasting? Here are some ideas:

* A protein bar. If you have a really picky eater, this can be the easiest choice, even if it's store bought. When I started giving my daughter a low sugar, chocolate covered protein bar for breakfast, her teacher and I saw instantaneous results: She had a much easier time paying attention in class. And there's nothing I can get her to eat more easily than a "candy bar." (We like the brand "Pure Protein.") Just note that this is a processed food and usually contains a lot of soy, which is probably GMO unless it's labeled organic.

* English muffin or bagel. This is a quick and easy choice that can be long-lasting - if you choose whole wheat, then top it with protein. Peanut butter or cream cheese are favorite choices in my household. Avoid jam, jelly, or Nutella, which are too loaded with sugar.

* Wraps or burritos. Burritos can be made ahead and frozen. Wraps need to be made the day before or - ideally, the morning they will be eaten. But they are simple enough to make; try warming up a few black beans, and adding scrambled eggs, a little cheese, a little salsa, and sticking the whole in a tortilla. You could also use the previous night's leftovers; for example, chunks of chicken or beef are a great addition.

* Parfaits. This kid-pleaser is easy to whip up the night before - but care must be taken that the calories from the parfait aren't mostly derived from sugar and carbs. To make a healthier parfait, place yogurt (free of red dye, which is linked to kids having trouble concentrating) into the bottom of a cup or bowl. Add some chunks of fresh fruit on top; thawed frozen fruit is fine, too, as long as it has no added sugar. Top the whole with plain oatmeal (preferably not the instant or quick cooking type) or low-sugar granola or cereal.
* Smoothies. These are a super-kid-friendly choice. Pack them with plenty of protein by adding some peanut butter. And if you use yogurt, be sure it is free of red dyes.

* Muffins. If your kids love muffins, you can make them a better choice by adding good protein sources, like ham. Family Fun has a decent recipe for this sort of muffin; I'd just substitute half the white flour for whole wheat flour.

* Pizza. Few kids don't love pizza for breakfast. Whip up a quick breakfast by using whole wheat English muffins as the pizza "crust." Spoon on some pizza sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and add desired toppings, which should include protein sources. Pop in the oven until the cheese melts. For a crispier "crust," toast the English muffin first.

* Fruit & Cheese. Fruit alone isn't a lasting breakfast, so when you serve fresh fruit, be sure to also give your child some cheese sticks or chunks to go with it.

* Eggs with Muffins. If your kids like fast food, this is a winner. Use whole wheat biscuits or English muffins, then top with an egg and cheese. A sausage patty adds extra protein, or you could go more lean and use Canadian bacon. If your child needs to watch his or her calories, serve it without the second biscuit or muffin slice on top.

What are your favorite quick & healthy kid breakfasts?

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