Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it contributes to health and well-being in numerous ways – especially for children. But because we’re often in a hurry to get out the door in the morning, breakfast is the meal most often skipped by children and adults.
Planning is Key
The key to eating a healthy breakfast is planning. Keep easy-to-prepare, healthy breakfast items on-hand. Plan a few extra minutes each morning to prepare and eat breakfast. The following weekday ideas are quick and easy, and although its preferable to sit down to breakfast, many can be eaten (or modified to be eaten) on-the-go.
Breakfast Idea #1: Quick, Easy, and Healthy (Weekday)
- Low-fat vanilla or fruit-flavored yogurt topped with unsweetened, whole grain cereal, and a piece of fresh fruit, such as an apple.
- An unsweetened, whole grain breakfast bar, fresh fruit (try a banana), and low-fat milk.
- Unsweetened, whole wheat (or other whole grain) frozen toaster waffles topped with low-fat vanilla or fruit-flavored yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, jam, or natural peanut butter (or other nut butter) and eaten like toast, rather than with a fork. Top with sliced fruit, such as peaches, or serve with easy-to-eat fruit, such as grapes or blueberries.
- Unsweetened, whole grain cereal with low-fat milk, topped with fruit such as banana or strawberry slices, blueberries, raisins, or dried cranberries.
- Brown rice cakes (unsalted or lightly-salted) with natural peanut (or other nut) butter or reduced-fat cream cheese, topped with slices of fresh fruit, such as strawberries or banana.
- Fruit and yogurt smoothie: blend low-fat vanilla or fruit-flavored yogurt with fresh or unsweetened frozen fruit. If necessary, add a splash of low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice, depending upon flavor and consistency. Use ice cubes, if needed, to reach the desired consistency.
Breakfast Idea #2: Fun and Nutritious (Weekends)
- Homemade Whole Grain Pancakes or Waffles: Add food coloring (such as red for Valentine’s Day and green for St. Patrick’s Day). Or add fruit faces after they have finished cooking: 2 banana slices for the eyes, half of a strawberry for the nose, and an apple slice or half of a pineapple ring for the mouth. Throw fruit – such as banana slices or fresh or frozen blueberries – into the batter for added flavor and nutrition. Use cookie cutters to form pancakes into fun shapes. See below for topping ideas.
- Homemade French Toast Sticks: Use whole grain bread, such as 100% whole wheat. You can cut the bread into strips to make the “sticks” either before or after cooking. For a healthier batter, use nonfat milk and egg substitute. Give each child a few small bowls of “dip” for their sticks (see below).
- For pancakes, waffles, and french toast sticks: unsweetened applesauce, low-fat vanilla or fruit-flavored yogurt, fresh fruit (try strawberries, banana slices, or blueberries), natural peanut (or other nut) butter, honey, apple butter, fruit syrup (try blueberry), reduced-fat plain or flavored cream cheese, cinnamon.
Keeley graduated Summa Cum Laude from Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition and a Dietetics Specialization. She went on to complete her dietetic internship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where she received the Distinguished Dietetic Intern Award and Scholarship.