Breakfast is often viewed as the most important meal of the day. This can be debatable, as it depends on the day, but for school-age children and teens, breakfast truly is important in terms of good health and proper growth. Breakfast is an opportunity to include important nutrients such as calcium, protein and vitamin C. As a bonus, ensuring that your child gets a healthy breakfast each morning may help them stay on task during their morning at school.
Try these 5 simple tips to get breakfast into your children each morning before school:
- Make it ahead. Try baking up egg cups or egg sandwiches on Sunday afternoon, then refrigerate or freeze. See the simple recipe below.
- Stock up. If you don’t have it in the fridge or pantry, nobody can eat it! Keep easy breakfast items on hand daily: English muffins, hard cooked eggs, peanut butter, frozen waffles, cheese sticks, bananas, dry cereal, oatmeal, milk, instant breakfast mix, yogurt cups, yogurt smoothies
- Plan in threes. Include a starch, a protein, and a serving of dairy for a balanced breakfast. If nothing else, offering a large glass of chocolate milk to your teen is better than sending him off on empty.
- Add 4 ounces of juice for daily vitamin C. Fruit juices are high in sugar, so it’s the portion that counts. A small 4-6 ounce juice cup offers you all of the Vitamin C you need daily.
- Use convenience. Don’t go for the mom-of-the-year award. I know you’re busy. A packaged granola bar (ones packed with nuts are great choices, but enlist your teen in choosing a favorite) or “breakfast cookie” paired with a glass of milk, is fine. A frozen waffle “sandwich” with peanut butter can be eaten on the way out the door. Wrap up the egg sandwich to go.
You don’t have to be the perfect parent each day, but do help your children prepare for the day ahead. Even teens need help. They are often in such a rush in the morning, that they won’t take the time to make breakfast – with some conveniences and some planning ahead, you can make a great team.
Easy Egg Cups
- 4-5 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup shredded cheese
- Add ins – minced bell peppers, onions, chopped mushrooms or spinach
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a 6-cup muffin pan with nonstick pan on medium heat. Whisk eggs and milk together until well blended. Sprinkle in cheese or other additions, gently stir to combine.
- Pour eggs into muffin tin.
- Place into oven, and bake eggs for 20 minutes, or until firm.
- Remove from oven, and cool. Remove from muffin tins and store in refrigerator or freezer.
- To heat, simply place egg cup in microwave and reheat on 80% power for one minute.
A Note About Restrictions
It can take years to develop healthy habits, so giving your children a head start now will develop healthy lifelong eating behaviors. It’s my opinion that restricting or forbidding foods that may be considered “treats”, “sweets” or “junk”, doesn’t work. I prefer to allow these foods in portion-controlled servings, and not make a big deal about it. At first, you may find your child overeats the “once-forbidden” food, but in a few weeks, the novelty may wear down.