Oatmeal breakfast with blueberries, brown sugar, and milk

We’ve been hearing for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for some reason many people skip it. It’s bad enough when and adult does it, but with children, it can affect their growth and development.   Their little bodies have been asleep for 6-8 hours fasting – they need to eat to break that fast and get them refueled for the day. But don’t just fill a hungry belly, provide your child and yourself with nutritionally dense foods.

Move away from junk cold cereals or make them a rare addition to breakfast instead of the norm. If you can’t, at least switch to organic cereals which generally have less sugar.  But it’s better to feed children a more complete meal.  Here are several that are easy and nutritious and they won’t take you more than a few minute of preparation, much of which can be done prior to the meal.

  • Oatmeal – The instant kind is well, not so fabulous.  Opt for whole grain oats (the ones that take 20 minutes to cook).  They been processed less than their instant counterpart.  Whole oats will keep the kids from getting hungry before lunch and their blood sugar steady.  Keep added sugar to minimum and sweeten with fruit instead.  You can make a batch of oatmeal in your rice cooker (if your rice cooker has a timer, fill the oats, water, and fruit – dried works best here – the night before and have it start in time to be ready at your breakfast time).  You can do the same with a slow cooker.  If this doesn’t work for you , you can try baked oatmeal or make a large batch on one day and reheat it for the next several days.  Changing out the fruit will keep it interesting.
  • Fruit smoothies – I wouldn’t count on these for a child every day unless you include protein powder.  As an occasional breakfast, they can be refreshing.  I prep the fruit by washing it with fruit wash and then cut up the pieces in 1″ or smaller sizes.  I measure approximately 1 cup of the fruit and freeze it in small baggies.  Next, gather up the individual baggies and store them in a gallon freezer bag.  This keeps the freezer organized and is cheaper than using quart bags for all of the fruit.  By using frozen fruit, there’s no prep work necessary in the morning and you won’t need to add ice.  Use apple juice to sweeten and to make it drinking consistency.
  • Faux McMuffin sandwich – I make several variations of these.  Sometimes fried egg, cheese, and meat or vegetarian patty on an English Muffin, frozen in a sandwich bag and then several sandwiches into on marked Freezer bag.  Pull the number of sandwiches necessary from the freezer the night before and place them in the refrigerator.  Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave.  I prefer to put the muffins in the toaster and the egg in the microwave, but I’m picky.  I also make homemade buns and use a folded egg (made from scrambled eggs) and add vegetables.  Spend an hour on the weekend making up sandwiches and you’ll have enough for a week or so depending on how many you make.  Best of all, you control the ingredients and the calories!  To change things up, use bagels, croissants, hamburger buns, etc.
  • Yogurt with granola and fruit –  My kids LOVED yogurt.  They had no idea it was “healthy”.  Granted, not all yogurt is healthy.  Many, especially those marketed to kids, are high in sugar. Find an all-natural or organic version, choose vanilla, and add your own fresh fruit.  Top yogurt with the same fruit out of the freezer prepared for  fruit smoothies – it’s just like Mc Donald’s Yogurt Parfaits.
  • Make-ahead French Toast, Pancakes, or Waffles – Any of these can be made ahead, in a large batch, frozen and then reheated in the toaster just like those popular freezer breakfast items.  Here’s a recipe for bagel french toast that can easily be made ahead and reheated.
  • Breakfast Burritos – Probably the easiest make-ahead breakfast out there.  Choose your favorite soft tortilla (wheat, white, or corn) and fill the center with scrambled eggs, vegetables, cheese, and meat and wrap them up burrito style.  If you’ll be reheating in the oven, wrap in foil.  For the microwave, place in sandwich bags.  Once all individual burritos are wrapped, place them together in one large Freezer bag.  For best results, pull the burritos out of the freezer the night before you need them.   Reheat 350 for approx 15 minutes in the oven or 30 seconds in the microwave (times dependent on the number of burritos and the wattage of your machine).  Here’s how to make the perfect scrambled eggs in bulk as well as how to assemble everything.
Homemade Breakfast Burritos for the Freezer

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Breakfast:

  • Breakfast Burritos – This doesn’t fit the method because the items are pre-cooked, but in this case there isn’t an alternative.  I’ll be making meat and meatless versions to satisfy both my husband and myself.

These are just a few ways to get off of the junk cereal train or to simply start feeding your body in the morning.  A light breakfast doesn’t have to be full of calories and mean a trip to the drive-thru.  Be prepared and you’ll have healthy choices that are delicious and as close as your refrigerator.

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