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5 Easy Fixes to Make Breakfast Healthier for Your Kids (and Stress-Free for You!)

Photo credit: iStock/Pixdeluxe

Photo credit: iStock/Pixdeluxe

As parents, we all know the drill. We plan to start our children’s day off with a healthy, filling breakfast, but between the lost soccer cleats, the undone homework and unmade lunches, handing them a Pop Tart or sugar-dusted French toast stick may be the easiest way to get them out of the house with food in their bellies.

Or is it?

Between work and school and, well, just being parents, most moms and dads rarely have the time to throw together a healthy breakfast for their kids. And that’s a shame—especially considering one out of every five kids is obese.

“We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy breakfast can help your child be more alert and attentive during school. In fact, studies show that kids who eat breakfast show better academic performance and are more likely to maintain a healthy body weight,” explains Darla Bradshaw, RD, CNSC, LDN, Clinical Nutrition Manager at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. “With a little planning and a nutritious breakfast every day, you can set your child up for success and build healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime!”

Taking note of National Childhood Obesity Month, we offer five delicious breakfast options that will not only make mornings more nutritious for your family but less stressful for you.

Yogurt parfait: An easy way to get young kids interested in mealtime is to allow them to help prepare dishes. Starting with yogurt, a popular base for most kids’ foods, allow them to DIY a parfait that includes flavors and textures they enjoy, such as fresh fruits, honey, and/or whole grain cereals for a nice crunch. To control the amount of sugar in the dish, be sure to start with a plain Greek or traditional yogurt. 

Slow-cooker oatmeal: Put your slow cooker—the cherished workhorse of the modern family’s kitchen—to use by setting it to cook steel-cut oatmeal overnight. Simply stir in milk, water or a non-dairy alternative and let it cook for seven to eight hours while you sleep. In the morning, you’ll wake to a warm breakfast base that kids can customize on their own with nuts, dried fruit, honey or a dash of brown sugar.

Green smoothies: If you’re trying to get more veggies in your child’s diet, start by including them in breakfast. In a blender, combine spinach or kale with frozen fruit(s) of their choice and a liquid such as soy, almond or low-fat milk. For a thicker consistency and added protein, throw in Greek yogurt or a nut butter. Experiment with different flavor combinations to find one that appeals most to your child.

Make-ahead egg sandwiches: Eggs are a filling, protein-rich breakfast option, but few of us have time to scramble up omelets during the hectic morning rush. Fortunately, eggs freeze well. For an easy grab-and-go breakfast that’s perfect for growing teens, simply prepare a batch of eggs ahead of time in the oven (hint: muffin pans are perfect for creating individual servings), top them with cooked turkey bacon or low-salt ham, and/or a slice of cheese, and place on a whole-wheat English muffin or whole wheat wrap in the morning. For an even more streamlined breakfast, pre-make the entire sandwich and individually wrap each in parchment paper–they can last up to one month in the freezer! In the morning, teens can help themselves by reheating the sandwich for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave (time will vary depending on your microwave’s power) and heading out the door.

Leftovers: Hear us out: If you’ve taken the time to prepare a nutritious dinner the night before, why not lessen your a.m. workload by serving extras the morning after. There’s no written rule that states kids can’t eat chicken, turkey burgers or roasted vegetables for breakfast if that’s what appeals to them. If you want to make leftovers more breakfast-y, simply top it with an egg (quickly cooked in a ramekin in the microwave for about a minute). Who knows, “dinner for breakfast” just might be the next “breakfast for dinner” trend.

For more information on healthy eating and healthy kids, visit St. Christopher’s Hospital.