I am sure we can all agree that sending our little ones off to daycare, preschool, school, play group, or the park, etc. with a full tummy gives us comfort. We know that they will be able to play, think, and learn well until their next snack or meal if they leave their home well nourished. There are two issues that can creep into this ideal. One is that mornings can be rushed and secondly, some children would rather play than eat when they get up.
In our home, mornings are definitely busy and I have one son who is never in the mood to head straight to the breakfast table…the other two are quite interested which helps. One strategy that I put into place is consistency. I have a timer that goes off 10 minutes after the twins are up to let us know it is breakfast time. This allows for a little bit of reading, playing, and cuddles but also means that we don’t leave breakfast so late that we get behind or I end up in a position where we are rushing the children (especially Wes…my non-breakfast guy) to finish. If there is a morning that I am up earlier with the baby and I have already eaten, I sit with a cup of tea and a bit more fruit when the twins eat. Most mornings we can all eat together thankfully.
The second strategy that I use is to offer simple, nutrient packed meals that have variety to them. This way, I know that they have a jump start on their nutrition needs for the day. I aim for representation from all food groups with a form of grain, milk (or alternative), fruit, and meat alternative. With this, I can ensure that they are starting their day with long acting and short acting carbohydrates, a source of protein, as well as healthy fats for their brain development and supporting mental health. On weekends, I tend to make more complex breakfasts such as pancakes or waffles or quiche, but on weekdays, we need easy, quick, nutritious and delicious.
Here are some of my kids faves (and they are great for parents too!):
- Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes. This is a pancake mix with extra protein and added oat fibre. I make them with coconut milk instead of water to boost the micronutrient and caloric density and I will often add 1 Tbsp. Baby Brain Organics per cup of Pancake mix for a brain boosting omega-3 addition. I serve these with the kids choice of fruit and/or dried fruit and sometimes a little coconut yogurt/goat or feta cheese and/or seeds as well. Depends on the day and how hungry they are as to how much or little I add beyond fruit. Fruit is a must though!!!
- PB (or AB) and Hemp Wrap. Whole grain wrap with natural peanut or almond butter and 1 Tbsp. of shelled hemp hearts sprinkled inside. You can all add sliced banana, apple, pear or raisins if you wish. My son prefers his fruit on the side.
- Fruit and Yogurt Parfait. The key here is using yogurt that is thick and protein packed. I serve my kids Liberte 9% and add in berries and/or sliced bananas then top with homemade granola and/or seeds and dried fruit. My one son is allergic to oats, so I just leave the granola off of his and offer a homemade muffin instead.
- Overnight oats. This is a great one to make in bulk for the whole family! Take a mason jar per person and add about 1/3 cup steel cut oats, add in 1 Tbsp. chia seeds, hemp hearts or baby brain organics. Then add 2-3 TBsp of milk, 1/3 cup Greek, coconut, or soy yogurt, and your choice of fruit. Put the lid on and shake, then put it into the fridge overnight. The oats soak up the moisture from the milk and yogurt and the fruit softens and releases flavor into the whole mixture. I like to add texture to this with a little diced apple or pear added in the morning. For an extra boost of protein and flavor, you can also add 1/2-1 Tbsp. of PB2 to the mixture. I will be talking more about this product in a post to come. For now I will say that it is an awesome way to get the protein and fibre that peanut butter offers, with 85% less fat. Healthy fat is definitely a good thing though, so don’t be afraid to keep using the real thing!
- Make ahead eggs. This is another one that is great for the whole family. Mix together eggs, milk, shredded cheese, and place it into the fridge. In the morning, pour into a microwave safe bowl and microwave the mixture one minute per egg used OR put into a frying pan and cook until the eggs are done. These can be served in a whole grain wrap, English muffin or toast. Eggs can remain quite hot for a while, so this is a good one to finish cooking before your children come to the table. You can add some fresh diced avocado to it or any fruit that your children enjoy on the side. If they are hungry right away, they could enjoy the fruit while the eggs are cooking and cooling.
- Cereal. Okay this one seems so simple…and it is, but I decided to include it anyway. The key to healthy cereals is low sugar. I offer multigrain Cheerios and rice Chex as the two most common options for my kids. Rhett is the main reason we have Chex in the house as there are very few cereals that do not contain oats. Shreddies and Vector are two that they enjoy as a treat. And as mentioned above, this would be with milk, fruit, and some nuts or seeds on top of on the side. To speed this option along you can always portion the cereal the night before so you only have to add a handful of blueberries and top with milk. This is a great one for kids to help with too!
- Smoothie (or just milk) and toast (or muffin) and nuts or nut butter. This is another simple one. Smoothie recipes are endless…you can see some of my previous post: Smoothies to Beat the Heat (links don’t seem to be working but I will add one once they are again). With toast, ideally it is whole grain and then we can add more nutrition with coconut butter and natural peanut or almond butter on top. With muffins, homemade with low sugar and whole wheat flour is key! You can also sprinkle some chia seeds or hemp seeds on top of either. One of my sons loves to add natural almond butter and feta cheese to his toast and muffins, with berries, apple, or pear slices on top or on the side.
- Pita Break Breakfast Pitas. My boys love these toasted and cut into triangles and served with yogurt, fruit, and almonds. Sometimes we do a natural nut butter in place of the almonds.
I hope you find these ideas inspiring for your morning routine ahead!
Until next time…stay healthy!!!