Mornings are rushed. It doesn’t matter what time you get up or what time the bus is scheduled to come—there never seems to be enough time.
And what’s getting skipped? Breakfast. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 20% of children and 32% of adolescents skip breakfast.
And according to Toby Smithson, a community dietician for the Lake County Department of Health and a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, kids skipping breakfast is a problem. “The number one thing you can do is make sure they eat something before they go out the door,” she says. And if you plan a little, you can make that “something,” healthy.
Better Cereal Choices
The go-to breakfast in many houses, cereal has great potential, but often falls short on nutrition. Smithson looks for three things when she buys cereal:
- Sugar content should be 12 grams or less per serving.
- Fiber should be at least 3 grams per serving.
- The first ingredient should be a whole grain. And if it is, it will use the word “whole” on the ingredient list.
Add fruit—cut up bananas, strawberries, raisins or blueberries and low-fat milk so your kids will stay full longer and get something besides carbs to start their day.
Out the Door Breakfasts
If slurping a bowl of cereal still isn’t fast enough, you need a breakfast you can hand to your child as he or she walks out the door.
“It’s important to plan ahead,” says Dr. Michael Rakotz, a family medicine specialist in Highland Park. He recommends making a frittata the night before with lots of veggies mixed into the eggs and then cutting it like a pizza. Yummy cold and if you wrap it in a whole-wheat tortilla, very portable.
Another great idea: homemade yogurt parfaits. Smithson recommends mixing yogurt and fruit together the night before, then add cereal as they’re walking out the door so the cereal stays crunchy.
Here are some other ideas for super quick and nutritious breakfasts to go:
- Toasted whole-grain waffle “sandwich” with peanut butter and banana as the filling (Kashi makes a frozen waffle that’s better than most.)
- Banana sushi made with whole-wheat tortilla, spread with peanut butter and wrapped around a banana. Slice into bite-sized pieces that look a little like sushi
- Homemade zucchini muffins or banana bread slices. Make it with half whole-wheat flour. And look for recipes that use lots of fruit or vegetables.
- Cut up fruit with peanut butter (or almond butter) for dipping.
- Homemade trail mix: low-fat granola, dried fruits (cranberries, blueberries, raisins), walnuts or almond slivers, and whole-grain cinnamon cereal. Just add yogurt or carton of milk.
- Smoothies: Start with 1 cup of low fat plain yogurt then add 1 cup of crushed ice and 1 cup of fruit. Flavor with a little honey if needed.
- Breakfast couscous. Make the night before and put in a plastic, lidded container and you’re out the door.