• Melissa Genee, RD

Wake up to a Healthy Breakfast

School is officially back in action and that means busy mornings scrambling to get the kids out the door with their lunches packed, backpacks on, jackets zipped, and bellies full. And although breakfast is claimed to be the “most important meal of the day”, it is the one that is most often skipped; or if not skipped, it is often replaced with breakfast cereals and granola bars, filled with sugars and unhealthy fats. Read on to learn about the importance of breakfast and easy tips to make healthy breakfast a routine in your house.

Importance of Breakfast

Breakfast is the meal that literally breaks the fast after the 8-12 hours of sleep your children get each night. Without breakfast, children can feel tired, irritable and unfocused. A healthy breakfast solves that problem by giving your child’s body the refueling it needs. Research has shown that children who eat breakfast tend to be healthier, have better performance in school and more likely to participate in physical activities - all components of a healthy, happy child.

Children who eat breakfast before school are shown to perform better in these areas:

  • Memory

  • Attentiveness

  • Readiness to learn

Balance is Key

While it is important for your child to eat breakfast every morning, what they eat is just as important. A healthy breakfast contains vegetables or fruits, whole grains and a source of protein. Sound familiar? Vegetables and fruits are rich in fibre and essential nutrients little bodies need to grow and develop. Protein keeps little bellies full and whole grains give your children fibre and energy to get through their active school day.

Teach your children to include a variety of items from these groups:

  • Vegetables - bell peppers, spinach, mushrooms, cucumber, tomatoes, avocados

  • Fruits - apples, oranges, bananas, fresh or frozen berries, dried apricots, grapes, melon

  • Protein - eggs, peanut butter, beans, yogurt, cow’s milk or fortified soy milk, cheese, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, almonds

  • Whole grains - whole grain cereal, whole grain bread/bagels, oatmeal, whole wheat tortillas

Make it Happen

The key to making healthy breakfast happen is to be prepared:

  • Stock your kitchen with healthy breakfast options.

  • Keep grab and go items like yogurt tubes, whole grain granola and fresh fruit at the ready if you need a breakfast on the go.

  • Get your kids involved by helping make breakfast in the morning.

  • Make sure homework is done and lunches are packed the night before.

  • Have your children help set the table for breakfast after dinner.

  • Meal prep - stayed tuned for a future blog post on my favourite make-ahead breakfast recipes that will save time every morning.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

For breakfast idea inspiration for quick and healthy meals, look no further:

  • Whole grain toast/bagel with topped with mashed avocado and apple slices

  • Hot or cold whole grain cereal made with 2% milk with blueberries or sliced strawberries - Tip: when buying cold breakfast cereals, choose ones with little to no added sugars, and at least 2 grams of fibre per serving

  • Vegetable omelet with spinach, mushrooms, peppers and cheese

  • Yogurt parfait with homemade granola and sliced banana

  • Whole grain waffles/pancakes with peanut/almond butter and yogurt

  • Mini bagel sandwich with cream cheese, tomatoes and lettuce

  • Boiled egg with cherry tomatoes and toast sticks

  • Fruit and vegetable smoothie with chia seeds and peanut butter

  • Homemade apple and bran muffin with cottage cheese and blueberries

  • Leftovers like chicken and rice, pasta with vegetables, homemade soup

And while breakfast is still claimed to be the “most important meal of the day”, what’s important to remember is that all meals are important. We should make an effort to ensure every meal is healthy, balanced and an enjoyable experience for adults and children. And with these tips, you can keep up with busy and chaotic mornings and keep your children happy and ready to learn and explore.

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