Children need a healthy, nutritiously packed breakfast to get their bodies started and fight off illnesses. Often, I hear, “Mornings are so rushed; breakfast takes a long time to cook.” There are ways to make a quick healthy meal. There are many healthy alternatives that are quick and easy to prepare.
A healthy breakfast includes protein (cheese, eggs, beans, grains, meats, nut butters), whole fruits or vegetables and carbohydrates (whole grain toast, cereal or muffin) and milk. I like to see milk with meals instead of juice. Juice has lots of calories and doesn’t fill a child up. A piece of fresh fruit is less expensive and more filling. My favorite go-to breakfast is an English muffin with ricotta cheese and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Brown rice and beans with fruit and milk is another quick alternative. My daughter loves a smoothie with milk, yogurt, a fruit or veggie and an oat granola bar.
Why whole grain? Most bread products start with bleached enriched white flour, which means the good part of the wheat was removed during processing and re-enriched with vitamin and minerals. When the ingredient panel begins with whole grain wheat or oats, it is healthier for you.
Many breakfasts can be partially prepared the night before. Lay out all the ingredients so they are easy to reach in the morning. I like to bake on the weekends and heat up items during the week. Toasted homemade banana bread, covered with applesauce, peanut or nut butter and served with a side of milk is tasty. Batches of homemade waffles can be frozen. Just toast up and dip in applesauce. Many breakfasts children can help prepare by themselves. In the photo, the five-year-old child is making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on rye bread for her brother while she is putting Nutella and PB on oatmeal bread for herself. Another quick alternative is a precooked hard-boiled egg, toast and fruit.
For children who don’t like any of these suggestions, look for whole grain cereal with under four grams of sugar per serving. Each four grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar. Original Cheerios only have 1.2 grams of sugar per one cup whereas ¾ cup of Lucky Charms has 10 grams or 2 and ½ teaspoons of sugar. The Danbury Family Learning Center, Inc. and Danbury Public Schools have adopted the 5-2-1-0 curriculum: 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, 2 or less hours of recreational time, 1 or more hours of outside play and 0 sugary drinks. For more information on the 5-2-1-0 Program, call the Center at 203-797-4734. My next article with talk about the 5-2-1-0 curriculum and the sugar test you can do at home with the foods in your pantry. Think warmer weather and Happy Spring.
Anne E. Mead, M. Ed., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.