I know how hectic mornings can be when you’re trying to get your tribe out of the house on time while managing the general household chaos.
No wonder boxed cereals are big business. They’re ready in a flash, can be handled by a 2-year-old, and satisfy kids’ love for sugar. Yes, sugar. Tons of sugar, which will instantly spike their blood sugar, making their energy peak and then immediately dip only to leave them hungry within an hour.
But you probably already know that.
Nevertheless, I see many parents are lost in this breakfast jungle and have yet to find the perfect breakfast solution that is a) healthy, b) child-friendly, c) fits their tight morning routine.
In this post I’ll briefly explain WHY a good breakfast is crucial, WHAT nutrients it should contain, and WHICH quick, healthy options you have.
Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day?
A balanced breakfast…
- Helps control blood sugar giving your kids more energy throughout the entire day
- Makes them feel less hungry and reduces cravings until snack-time
- Increases their attention span in school
- Makes them feel less restless or irritable
- Gets the metabolism moving, which means the body starts burning calories
- Offers a great opportunity to meet their daily needs of essential nutrients such as fibre, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
What makes a balanced breakfast?
Below are the main ingredients for a healthy, well-balanced breakfast.
1. High quality protein
Kids need protein at each meal to help their bodies grow and it will make them feel satiated for a few hours.
Best sources: nuts, seeds, nut butter, oatmeal, full-fat dairy, plant-based milk, cheese, eggs, fish (e.g. tuna spread, smoked salmon), lean meat
2. High quality fat
A fair amount of good fat for breakfast will keep them full until snack-time or lunch.
Best sources: all the above-mentioned protein sources (except oatmeal) contain good fats. Other sources are avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, coconut milk or cream.
Fiber also makes your kids feel satiated, discouraging overeating. It also promotes regular bowel movements, preventing constipation.
Best sources: fresh & dried fruit, veggies (think avocado, pumpkin, kale, spinach…), oatmeal, nuts, nut butters, seeds, whole grains (whole wheat, spelt, rye…)
After going 8-12 hours without drinking, your kids’ little bodies (and yours as well) need to be hydrated again. Make them start each day with a glass of water.
5 things you shouldn’t give your kids for breakfast
- Refined sugar found in breakfast cereals, cookies, cake, low-fat yoghurt, drink yoghurt, chocolate spread, (most) commercial peanut butter, jam, etc.
- Commercial fruit juices and smoothies. Even the ones labelled “100 % fruit” and “no added sugars” will spike your kids’ blood sugar. Always prefer whole fruits over juiced.
- Fruit on its own won’t fuel your kids until snack or lunchtime. Give them fruit with a good protein or fat source instead such as nuts, seeds, nut butter, or full-fat yoghurt for instance.
- White bread, as everyone knows by now, is full of sugar and provides only empty calories. But be careful with multigrain and refined wheat breads as well. Even the ones that look brown and healthy are mostly made with white flour as opposed to unrefined flour (whole grain bread), and often get their little tan thanks to added caramel coloring. Shocking isn’t it?
A few examples of healthy quick breakfast ideas
- Oatmeal with any milk of your choice, topped with a choice of nuts, seeds, nut butter, honey or maple syrup, date caramel, berries, banana, apple slices, cinnamon
- Healthy breakfast bowl
- Quinoa or buckwheat porridge
- Homemade granola with your choice of milk (full-fat organic cow's milk, or any plant based milk) or full-fat yoghurt, and fruit
- Homemade granola bars
- Overnight oats, made the night before in less than 5 minutes and ready to be eaten the next day (I’ll soon post one of my favourite overnight oats recipes. In the meantime, check out Pinterest for tons of recipes)
- Whole wheat toast with avocado, cottage cheese, tuna salad, homemade chia jam
- Fresh fruit with nuts, seeds, full-fat yoghurt or coconut cream
- Breakfast smoothie, which you could make the night before if you’re really on a tight schedule the next morning
- Egg muffins, or high-protein no-sugar muffins mainly made with eggs and veggies, can be baked the day before and eaten cold. Simply fill your muffin tin with a mix of eggs and chopped veggies (spring onion, spinach, kale, tomatoes, bell peppers…) and bake for about 25 minutes.
Weekend ideas (when you have a little bit more time)
- Eggs with smoked salmon
- Baked oatmeal
- Omelette with spinach and goat cheese
- Banana pancakes
- Baked egg in avocado
Make sure to check out some of my sugar-free snacks which are all high in healthy protein and fat, and are sugar free. A few of these also make a perfectly filling on-the-go breakfast, such as my banana almond bread, oat & seed crackers, sweet potato brownies, energy balls, apricot-coconut bliss balls, green monster smoothie, or zucchini oats.
Related post: Healthy snacks for kids