As a mother of two boys, aged 10-1/2 and almost 7, I know first hand how harried morning time can be. Whether you're scrambling to get yourself and your children dressed, make edible brown-bag school lunches, or pack backpacks, breakfast may seem secondary and can often get sidestepped in the morning which can, at the very least, leave parents and kids hungry.
In this month's issue of the journal Appetite, researchers reviewed 24 studies that looked at the impact family habits such as eating breakfast have on the eating habits of children and adolescents. It's no surprise that researchers found that those who had parents who ate breakfast were more likely to consume a morning meal themselves. Regular, consistent breakfast intake is associated with myraid health and other benefits such as enhanced feelings of energy, increased mental alertness, and a lower body mass index. Breakfast provides an unparalleled opportunity to get in several key foods/food groups including low fat or nonfat dairy foods (that provide calcium and vitamin D), fruit (that provides fiber as well as a variety of vitamins, minerals, and powerful phytochemicals, plant chemicals that promote health and prevent disease), and whole grains (that often pack in fiber and also provide complex carbohydrates to rev engines early in the day). Having breakfast is also associated with long-term weight loss maintenance in people who have successfully lost a significant amount of body weight as demonstrated in the National Weight Control Registry. Because of the many potential benefits of breakfast, and because skipping breakfast (which can lead to increased feelings of hunger and overeating later in the day) becomes more commonplace as children and adolescents get older, it's important for parents to take even a few minutes to have some sort of breakfast as a way to model and encourage the same in their children.
Following are five quick, easy, and delicious, no-fuss breakfasts my kids and I often whip together in a matter of minutes. We all pitch in when it comes to breakfast, and we value the together time it lends us as a family. The bonus is that we're all fitting in some of the key nutrients we need for energy and to be heathy.
Breakfast #1: A yogurt parfait made with 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt, 1 cup sliced strawberries, 2 tablespoons walnut halves, and 1/4 cup low fat granola.
Breakfast #2: A 1 cup oat bran flakes topped with one sliced banana, 2 tablespoons chopped almonds, and 1/2 cup skim milk.
Breakfast #3: 1 hard-boiled egg (made the night before) plus 1 cup instant oatmeal topped with 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 packet of sugar or artificial sweetener (if needed), and 1 cup skim or 1 percent milk.
Breakfast #4: English muffin pizza made with 1 toasted whole wheat English muffin, 1/4 cup low sodium tomato sauce (or canned, diced tomatoes), and 1 slice (1 ounce) OR 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 cup orange juice.
Breakfast #5: 2 whole grain waffles topped with either 2 tablespoons light syrup and 2 teaspoons vegetable oil spread OR 4 tablespoons natural applesauce, and 1 cup skim milk (if choose the former option, add 1 cup fresh berries of 1 fruit of your choice).