Ready or not, school is back in session. And sending your kids to school well-nourished is one of the most important things a parent can do for their child. There’s ample research showing that children who eat breakfast are more focused, perform better academically, and have a lower risk of obesity. But what constitutes a good breakfast? Is it Tony the Tiger (They’re greeeeat!) and the “whole grains” and “reduced sugar” that the cereal box proudly touts? How about the easy bagel-and-cream cheese? How do you feel about your child washing it all down with a glass of chocolate milk first thing in the morning?
Unfortunately, none of the above-mentioned ideas fits the nutritional bill. These typical breakfasts are too high in carbohydrates (even worse – the refined carbs), and too low in fiber and protein. Breakfasts with this nutrient composition cause a rapid spike in blood sugar (which means a boost of energy – yay!)followed by a crashing blood sugar and energy level, leaving kids zoned-out and/or irritable in class. Not exactly what your child’s teacher wants.
The ideal breakfast is one that is a balance of good carbs (whole grains, fruit, and vegetables) and lean protein. The carbs give you energy and the fiber (from the carbs) and protein make that energy last longer. No blood sugar crashes in sight. Round out breakfast with water, tea, or nonfat milk to fully hydrate and wake up the brain.
The following are a some delicious and nutritious (and kid-friendly) breakfast ideas that will leave your child energized for hours.
Scramble 1 egg + 2 egg whites in a nonstick pan that’s been coated with cooking spray. Add some salsa (green or red) and 1 tbs. grated parmesan cheese. Heat up a whole grain or corn tortilla and wrap the egg/salsa combination up inside. Optional: add a spoonful of guacamole.
Mix 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. agave nectar, and 1 tsp. orange zest. Layer 1/2 cup yogurt in a glass, followed by 1/2 cup berries (preferably organic), and 1/4 cup granola. Repeat with remaining yogurt, another 1/2 cup berries and top with 2 tbs. slivered almonds and 1/2 tbs. ground flaxseed or whole chia seed.
Stuffed French Toast
Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 sliced banana and cook 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden; remove from pan and place on 1 slice of whole grain bread. On another slice of bread, spread 1 tbs. almond butter (or natural peanut butter). Close up the sandwich. In a shallow glass or plastic container, mix 1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute), 1/4 cup nonfat milk, 2 dashes ground cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract. Dip the sandwich into the egg mixture (1 minute on each side). Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add the sandwich and cook 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Optional to serve with pure maple syrup (limit to 1 tbs.) or all-fruit jam.
Super-Smoothie #1 (a complete meal in a cup)
In a blender, place 1/2 cup orange juice (or pineapple, pomegranate, or tart cherry juice), 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen fruit chunks, 1 tbs. ground flaxseed or chia seed, and 1/4 cup rolled oats. Blend and add ice to thicken or water to thin out to desired consistency.
In a blender. combine 1 cup nonfat milk (or lite vanilla soymilk, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or rice milk), 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder, 1 banana, and 1 tbs. almond or peanut butter. Blend and add ice to reach desired consistency.