Knowing the brain boosting benefits of providing breakfast doesn’t necessarily mean that getting it on the table is any easier, and although there are some relatively nutritionally sound cereals out there breakfast doesn’t have to come in a box.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Make it the night (or day) before. Quiches and frittatas can be made the night before and eaten cold or warmed in the morning. Pre-shredding vegetables or cheese and pre-cutting meats will also make preparation go more quickly.
- Add vegetables. Bake zucchini bread or pumpkin muffins. These are an easy way to provide additional vegetables in your daily diet. Look for recipes that have lower amounts of sugar and use liquid fats (rather than butter). Substitute whole wheat flour for white flour for at least half of the recipe for an even healthier morning. Spread with a nut butter of your choice and serve with a piece of fruit.
- Premix ingredients. For something like muffins or quick breads, mix in separate bowls the dry and wet ingredients. Then in the morning you can just combine and bake.
- Do it yourself. Make your own granola or granola bars so you can control the amount of sugar and fat and avoid allergens (if this is an issue in your family).
- Keep it fast and simple. Prepackage bags of nuts and dried fruit or set out small bowls of nuts (ideally unsalted but oven roasted) and fresh fruit for a quick but satisfying breakfast. (This is great for afterschool snacks too!)
- Go back to basics. Combine water, old fashioned (or steel cut) oats and cinnamon for a warming, nutritious, simple breakfast. It’s okay to sweeten with a little brown sugar, honey, agave, or maple syrup, but don’t overdo it. Top with dried fruit and a few roasted nuts if desired.
- Think outside the (cereal) box. We often have breakfast for dinner, so why not have dinner for breakfast. Set out a plate with sliced meats (buy the highest quality meats you can and pay attention to sodium), cheeses, crusty bread, and sweet or savory spreads. Serve with a little (4 ounces or less) 100% fruit juice or real fruit. (I can’t tell you how many people around the world eat this way.)
- Have the kids decide. Keep items within reach of your kids so they can select their own breakfast. Spend time talking about different macronutrients and various food groups and tell them that they need to select one breakfast item from each group. Help them with portion size until they are old enough.
- Let them eat cereal. Although there are plenty of terrible breakfast cereals out there, there are many that are not terrible and, as we said earlier, getting breakfast is better than not so don’t be afraid to rely on packaged cereal once in a while. Just be careful to choose cereals that are free of dyes and artificial flavors and colors and look for those that contain 100% whole grains, have higher levels of protein and fiber and lower levels of sugar. You can read the Environmental Working Group’s report on sugar in children’s cereals for more information.
Do you have any time saving tips to add to the list? Please share in the comments below!
Kiyah Duffey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech.
Department of Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise
** We are excited to welcome Kiyah to Mind Positive Parenting as a guest blogger. We love her and we think you will too. Learn more about Kiyah, her family, and her work:
Kiyah Duffey received her degree in Nutritional Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is now an assistant professor in the department of Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise at Virginia Tech. She is also a freelance nutrition consultant, blogger, and mother to three children (ages 4 and under). In her day job, Kiyah’s research aims to understand the association between diet, obesity and heart disease. She is the author of almost two dozen scientific articles on these topics, and her work has been featured in Men’s Health Magazine, USA Today, and the BBC News and on NPR’s Morning Edition, Good Morning America, and the NBC Nightly News. But her true passion is food: reading and writing about it, shopping for it, talking about it, cooking it and sharing it with others. Someday she’ll figure out how to marry her passion and expertise more fully; in the meantime you can follow her efforts to do so at www.ourregularlyscheduledprogram.com where she blogs about family, parenting, career, and the search for a healthy, balanced life. Or connect with her via facebook or Twitter.