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You Can Make Quick, Healthy Breakfasts For Your Kids

Getting kids ready for school in the morning is hectic but do not skip breakfast! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that isn’t just an old wives’ tale. Scientific studies show kids who eat breakfast perform better in school, are more likely to participate in physical activities, and tend to eat healthier overall. Kids who don't eat breakfast are less able to learn or stay focused at school.

Any breakfast is better than no breakfast but just because we call something a breakfast food doesn’t mean it’s a healthy choice! Though tempting thanks to their “ready to eat” nature, avoid feeding your children doughnuts or pastries all the time. These foods are treats to be given only occasionally. They are high in sugar and fat, plus they don't contain the nutrients a kid really needs. And if your children have a doughnut for breakfast, they won’t feel full for very long since the body processes refined sugars and flours much more quickly.

Tomorrow, make sure your kids eat a healthy breakfast! Just like with other meals, try to give them a variety of foods, including fruit, vegetables, grains (make at least half your grains whole grains), protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, nuts, and seeds) dairy products (low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt). Here are some starter ideas for easy and healthy breakfasts. Get creative with your kids and make these your own!

Breakfast shakes
These are so easy to make. Add milk, fruit, yogurt, ice and you have a nutritious shake made in a couple of minutes. You can do combinations of any fruits they like. My kids love to add banana, a little chocolate syrup, flavored yogurt such as banana yogurt and a little protein powder (since they see me adding it to my shake). They even take a little to school sometimes in place of chocolate milk.

Muffins/banana bread
There are many recipes for these. Here’s my secret to "improving" those recipes: Substitute half of the white flour with whole wheat flour, half of the oil or butter with greek yogurt and add flax seed meal. You can add some oats as well. I don’t do all whole wheat flour because the texture often ends up dry and grainy. Make them whenever it’s convenient, then warm up in the morning and serve with a small glass of milk.

Egg & ham quesadillas
Making these with whole wheat tortillas are quick and easy, as is an egg and cheese burrito. Do a breakfast version of pigs in a blanket by using low-fat chicken sausage. Serve with some fresh salsa (watch out for jar salsas that have added sugar) to flavor it up!

These are always the easiest, of course. Give your children healthier cereals such as Fiber One or Kashi. If they're reluctant to eat them, you can mix in up to half of their favorite cereal until they get used to the taste.

Pancakes are a universal kid favorite. There are many healthy whole grain pancake mixes that taste good. Some are ready-made, and some you can pre-mix yourself and store for when you're ready to use. I will often add a tablespoon of melted butter to those mixes to make them softer. I also occasionally will add a small amount of vanilla protein powder as well to up the protein content.

This breakfast has great nutritional value for kids and adults alike. The soluble fiber in oatmeal absorbs water and slows the digestive process, meaning your kids won't get hungry again as quickly. My favorite is pumpkin pie oatmeal. Add some cooked pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract and brown sugar. Short on time in the mornings? You can make this the night before and reheat for breakfast the next day.

Want More Ideas?

You can find a wealth of healthy breakfast recipes online. The site Mr. Breakfast features multiple variations on classic breakfast fare, including adaptations for many common dietary restrictions. This can be a great time-saver for those of you with children whose nutritional needs fall outside the norm.