By Eileen Johnson
Who has time for breakfast? This used to be a question that many adults would ask each other but, unfortunately, this has increasingly become a question that children as young as elementary and preschool age also ask. Some children are up late doing school work after sports or watching TV and playing video games long after the time when past generations of children were sound asleep. Due to these late night activities, children are no longer awakened by the rising sun. They sleep in on school mornings and get up just in time to dress and run out the door. Later evening meals and snacking has killed the once robust appetites that children had for a healthy morning breakfast.
The American Dietetics Association States that a healthy breakfast will help children to:
- Have better problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination
- Concentrate better and be more alert
- Be more creative
- Miss fewer days of school
- Be more physically active
The Mayo Clinic encourages parents to include these four ingredients in a healthy breakfast:
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy products (There are wonderful calcium and Vitamin D fortified dairy alternatives made from almond, rice, coconut and even flax)
Sound complicated? It really doesn’t have to be! Here are some ideas:
- Fill whole grain tortillas with scrambled eggs, cheese and your favorite vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers or mushrooms.
- Top yogurt with berries, nuts and an unsweetened granola
- Blend up smoothies with your favorite milk, mango chunks, spinach and protein powder that you like. Add a whole grain bagel or piece of toast
- Stuff your favorite pita bread with egg or tuna salad, chopped up celery or peppers and add a piece of string cheese
- Leftover whole grain pizza with your favorite vegetables like onions, peppers, artichoke or tomatoes, non-nitrate turkey sausage, topped with shredded cheese
- A yummy omelet that starts with any chopped up leftover (or fresh) vegetables in your refrigerator or freezer like broccoli, potatoes, green onions, asparagus or mushrooms. Stir fry those quickly, then add beaten eggs and cheese over low-medium heat. You can either add whole grain croutons for a little crunch or add a piece of toast.
- Whole grains for making hot cereal like millet, brown rice or oatmeal may be soaked overnight for 2-12 hours before cooking. This reduces the phytic acid content that occurs naturally in grains. Phytic acid reduces our ability to absorb the wonderful minerals found in whole grains. While cooking the grain or shortly after, you can add nuts, dried fruit and even yogurt and honey.
Don’t forget to have fun making and eating meals together!