Breakfast before school is critical to give our kids the ability to focus, regulate impulse control, and maintain energy levels throughout their school day. As busy parents, we often settle for the easiest breakfast options such as cereal, toaster pastries, donuts, muffins, banana, and other breads, typically washed down with a sugary fruit juice.
It may seem like these foods make good breakfast options. There are almost no arguments when the kids get to eat a sugary breakfast, which means less chaotic mornings, and we are more likely to get them to school on time. While that feels like a win, our kids pay the price.
Before the first bell can ring, they are likely to be tired, irritable, and hangry. There are better options for breakfast. A breakfast that will nourish children of any age needs five things:
• Healthy fats
• Complex carbs
• Nutrient-dense foods
• Kid appeal
We cannot underestimate the last requirement. You can prepare the most nutritious quinoa and spinach frittata, but if your kid won’t eat it, it’s no help. Here are five breakfast ideas and recipe links that will boost your breakfast prowess and your child’s learning potential.
I would shout my egg muffin recipe from the top of the tallest mountain if it could reach everyone’s ears. It’s published here in Wyoming Parent Magazine, and it originally appeared in my book about eating for energy (you can pick up your copy here at Amazon https://amzn.to/31yN0FL)
Eggs make a delicious breakfast. Adding vegetables and cooking them in a muffin pan increases the nutritional profile and boosts the fun factor. My kids love these, and they keep well in the fridge. Make them ahead and pop a few in the microwave for a super quick breakfast that will keep your kids full and get them to school on time.
Overnight oats are great for kids who need something a little sweeter in the morning. The benefits of overnight oats are numerous. The kids can make these the night before, and it’s incredibly satisfying for them to help with the preparation. They get to pick their ingredients and take ownership of their breakfast the next day. They start their day with confidence and nutrition! There are many overnight oats recipes on the internet, and you can customize your oats in unlimited ways. This recipe is a great place to start for a good, basic overnight oats breakfast.
Yogurt, Granola, and Fruit
A delicious way to start the day is with a parfait! That should be a slogan for someone’s parfait business. I want royalties, please. Anyway, yogurt can be a great source of protein. Just make sure it does not have a ton of added sugar and contains live cultures to help your kids’ digestive systems. Granola can add lots of fiber; again watch for added sugar. And fruit, particularly berries, are sweet without spiking blood sugar because they come in a high fiber package. This combination together makes for a tasty meal that will keep your kids full and alert all morning long. This article from Jar of Lemons is a great place to start if you’ve never made this before.
Healthy, Nutritious Muffins
If you’ve checked out my egg muffin recipe, then you’ve heard the story of my homemade whole wheat banana muffins. Long story short, I thought they were nutritious, but it turned out they packed 52 grams of sugar in each one! I look at muffins differently now. It is possible to bake muffins that are more nutritious than the sugar-laden ones you would buy at the store. Many of them use alternative flours such as almond flour or coconut flour.
My favorite baker for all things healthier is Elana from Elana’s Pantry. I make her paleo pumpkin pie every year for thanksgiving. No one can tell the difference from the traditional recipe, that’s how good she is. Check out Elana’s Raspberry Lemonade Muffins – they are my family’s favorite!
Breakfast smoothies are a great way to pack some loads of nutrition into your meal. A word of caution, however: when we pulverize whole food, it becomes “fast” food. Our bodies digest it more quickly, and if you use all sugary fruits to make your smoothie, the sugar impact can be as severe as your kid drinking a soda for breakfast.
There are many ways to avoid the sugar and make smoothies a healthy part of your morning, however. Use oats to add fiber and slow down digestion. Add leafy greens to get a nutritional wallop. And my favorite way to serve smoothies to my kids before school is in a little glass on the side of these other delicious recipes. This way, I know even if for some reason they decide not to like their egg muffins that day, they are still getting proper nutrition. Check out this delicious recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen!
There are many breakfast options out there for busy parents, but the quickest and most kid-friendly options are often the worst breakfast you can give a growing, learning child. Putting in the effort to make your kids a nutritious breakfast will pay off big time in the long run. I’d say the results are immeasurable because when you help your children make a habit of eating healthy, you’re giving them a lifetime of practices to be their best selves.