13 Healthy Breakfasts For Children: What to Eat & What to Avoid
Actively growing children need food at regular intervals to fuel their bodies and brains. Eating wholesome healthy breakfasts not only increases the chances of an overall healthier diet into adulthood, but it also improves a child’s ability to concentrate and perform in structured environments such as school and will allow them to be more physically active, attentive and less irritable. Skipping breakfast, or giving children the wrong type of foods to eat in the morning sets them up for the potential for compromised school performance, attention loss, aggressive behavior, and sluggishness.
Because marketing gurus know that people are predisposed to love sugar and fat, they specifically target children’s foods to gain profits.
Foods to avoid giving children for breakfast
1. Too sugary or carb-filled sweet foods, like (doughnuts or cereals high in sugar, white pancakes, white waffles, white toast, pastries of any kind, scones, pies, breakfast bars, and muffins.
These options, even if some are low in fat and protein, are nothing but empty carb calories because after the sugar high wears off, they are likely to get tired. This starts your child’s day with a high blood-sugar level, which the body quickly adjusts to and then drops, leaving your little one on a roller-coaster blood-sugar ride all day.
2. Too much FAT- fatty animal protein, such as sausages, bacon, and fast food breakfasts, like Egg McMuffins, Sausage McMuffins, hash browns or tater tots, and croissant sandwiches.
In order to best avoid developing metabolic syndrome, which encompasses quite a few diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and heart disease, high-fat foods and meals should not be consumed regularly.
Healthy breakfasts for your children does not have to be complicated, extravagant, time-consuming or even homemade. But planning out your meals the night before can save you time in the morning. There are plenty of prepared healthy breakfast foods that can be heated right before consumption. Check the freezer section at your local grocery store for pre-made meals like whole-wheat bagels and organic cream cheese, flax or whole wheat pancakes and waffles, and frozen turkey bacon or sausage. Low sugar, Keifer or Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, whole-wheat or sprouted bread with almond or peanut butter and jam is also a quick and easy breakfast for kids.
Even sliced bananas or chilled blueberries with a handful of homemade granola and a glass of milk will provide proper nutrition for your little one.
Below are additional ideas for healthy breakfasts that your children will gladly eat!
1. Fruit smoothies
Smoothies are popular with children because they are sweet, and they make an easy medium for adding in probiotic foods, like yogurt or coconut kefir which help build the good digestive enzymes in the intestines. Try also grinding up chia seeds, flax or pumpkin seeds for more protein. By adding naturally sweet bananas and apples into the smoothies, no artificial sugars are needed.
2. Scrambled Eggs and Tofu
Add onions, green peppers or other veggies with wheat or sprouted toast with a little bit of turkey bacon or turkey sausage, and a side of fresh fruit.
3. Oatmeal with Flaxseed, Blueberries & Almonds
To me, this is the perfect breakfast. Steel-cut oatmeal is the healthiest choice because it offers the most fiber and is the least processed. Add ground flaxseed, frozen blueberries, and sliced almonds. (Add a touch of cinnamon, honey or maple syrup if desired). There are four power foods here, all full of fiber, nutrients, protein and good fats, with only a couple of minutes of prep time
4. Pumpkin French Toast bites or Strips
4 slices whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons low fat milk
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar (optional)
1. Spread one tablespoon pumpkin puree on two slices of bread.
2. Top each pumpkin spread slice of bread with a slice of plain bread, so you have two “sandwiches”.
3. Cut each sandwich into four sections.
4. Combine remaining ingredients.
5. Dunk each square of sandwich in egg mixture, on both sides.
6. Place in a cake pan or cookie sheet.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping after ten.
5. Bagel Sandwich
Whole-grain or sprouted grain bagel WITH sharp or mild cheddar, scrambled eggs, and organic cream cheese and a side of strawberries and blueberries.
6. Breakfast Burrito
Get creative! Scramble eggs and put them in a spinach or whole wheat tortilla and make a breakfast burrito with grated low-fat cheese and fresh fruit on the side.
7. Whole-grain and flax blueberry muffins
These are low(er) in sugar than traditional store or restaurant bought muffins and give your kids a healthy boost of protein and fiber.
8. Maple Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Butter on toast
This homemade seed-butter is delicious on apple slices and on toast. For a special treat, spread over whole-grain or sprouted grain bread, and cover with sliced bananas. It’s a nice change from peanut butter, and makes a quick meal on the go.
9. Whole Grain Pancakes with Nut Butter & Bananas
You can also spread the pumpkin seed butter, or nut butter of your choice on pancakes. You can keep pancakes in the refrigerator and freezer to toast on-demand at breakfast.
10. Amaranth with Cream, Maple Syrup and Dried Fruit
Another option is amaranth (a traditional and nutritious whole grain), which makes a delicious hot cereal. Try topping it with pastured cream and pure maple syrup.
11. Maple Waffles with Bran
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4-1/2 cup wheat bran or oat bran
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, oil, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended.
Preheat waffle iron and spray it with nonstick spray or brush it with oil. Cook the batter according to the manufacturer’s directions (I cook about a ladleful in a thick Belgian waffle maker) until golden brown. Keep them warm in a 200F oven while you cook the rest. Makes 6-8 large waffles.
12. Banana Nut Muffins
Use whole wheat pastry flour. They sell it at most health food stores now, and I imagine some really good grocery stores as well. My favorite brand is the Arrowhead Mills Organic Whole Grain Pastry Flour.
2 cups (300g) whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3 large, very ripe bananas
1 cup (220g) organic sugar (it has an earthier flavor, but regular is fine)
1/3 cup (60g) low-fat sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 110g) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees, Celsius). Spray a non-stick muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mash bananas until almost smooth, but still chunky. Stir in sugar, butter, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.
3. Carefully fold flour mixture into banana mixture. Stir until just incorporated. Batter should be lumpy, with no dry spots.
4. Fill each muffin tin 2/3 full. Place on a large cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees, until a toothpick, inserted in the center muffins, comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
5. Let cool in pan for at least 10 minutes. Invert muffins onto a cooling rack. Serve warm, or allow to come to room temperature and freeze.
13. Homemade Granola
5 cups old-fashioned oats
2-3 cups sliced or slivered almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans, hazelnuts or a combination
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
3/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (or a lunch box snack pack)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. canola or flax oil
1/2 – 1 cup raisins, cranberries, chopped dried apricots or a combination (optional)
1. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 300°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, stir together all of the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir well.
3. Spread the mixture evenly onto two rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until pale golden. Set aside to cool completely. Stir in the dried fruit (optional)
4. Parenting can take a lot of creativity and patience, and getting your children to eat well is no exception to that rule. As a parent, nothing makes us feel better than a well fed child, and one that wants to eat our foods with smiles and goodwill. Just experiment with the food options out there and include your children in the decision and meal preparation process. They learn a lot from the examples you set as a role model!