Conquer the Breakfast Challenge

O Breakfast

We’ve all been taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when you’re rushing to work or school in the mornings, it’s easier to grab something quick to eat as you head out the door.

Unfortunately, packaged “convenience” foods are not always the best choice, and preparing a nutritious homemade breakfast in a world of to-go toaster pastries and sugary cereals can feel like yet another early morning challenge.

“It really doesn’t have to be,” says Yvette Garfield, founder of The Handstand Kids Cookbook Company. Even when they have to be eaten on the go, healthy breakfasts can be simple and delicious.

Make Educated Choices

Talk to younger kids about breakfast foods they like. Take them along to the grocery store or farmers market to see where fruits, vegetables and other foods come from.

“We’ve become what’s called a ‘mac n cheese’ society, where kids won’t eat anything unless it’s covered in cheese,” Garfield says. “Kids need to know that a chicken doesn’t really look like a nugget. When we learn at an early age, we ask the right questions, and we eventually make better choices as adults.”

Gardening is another way to teach them about different kinds of foods and seasonings.

“It’s like magic for a child to plant a seed and see what it becomes,” Garfield says.

Tweens and teens, whose tastes typically change as they grow, are usually forthcoming with any breakfast requests. Ask for their input. If you plan to make an omelet, fruit salad or make-ahead breakfast sandwich (see accompanying recipe), use this as an opportunity for older children to customize their entrees. Also consider presenting a few combinations and asking them to help prepare that item

Take a Family Approach

Planning and preparing breakfast and other meals together whenever possible is a great way to help your family implement a healthier lifestyle. Garfield had family in mind when she founded The Handstand Kids Cookbook Company, which she created after looking for cookbooks to give to her younger cousins during her travels.

The company’s books feature recipes from different countries, along with cultural information and alternative suggestions that make the recipes easily adaptable from toddlers to teens.

“You don’t want to create a huge project for yourself when you’re preparing a meal —  morning or evening — but allowing a child to have a hand in planning the menu, shopping, preparation or even cooking ahead of time can remove what I call the ‘icky factor’ of certain foods and open up a new world,” Garfield says.

Read the Label

Sara Erickson, a pediatric dietitian in Charlotte, says reading food labels is important — particularly where prepackaged breakfast foods and ingredients are concerned.

“When foods are highly processed, they are not whole foods anymore,” Erickson says. “So they can be high-calorie and have low nutritional value as well. Yogurt, cereals and oatmeal with fruit and granola can be good choices, provided that they’re not loaded with sugar.”

When reading labels in the grocery store, Erickson says she uses the 5 and 20 percent rule.

“When you’re looking at the sodium and fat levels on a label, you should aim for just 5 percent of the daily value,” she says. “When it comes to fiber, vitamins, iron and calcium, you want to see 20 percent or better. That’s one simple way to tell whether a food is a healthy choice.”

Tammy Holoman is a freelance writer from Winston-Salem.

If your family would like to enjoy healthier breakfast options, try these recipes designed to make your busy morning meals simpler — and healthier.

*Recipes reprinted with permission from The Handstand Kids Cookbook Company.

YEAR OF THE MONKEY MANGO SMOOTHIES

Ingredients
6 ounces of silken tofu, drained; or 2/3 cup of plain yogurt
1 medium banana, peeled and cut in half
1 mango
1 cup of milk (your preference)
1 handful of spinach
1 handful of ice cubes
Optional: squeeze of honey to sweeten smoothie

Instructions
1. Cut the mango by resting one flat side on the cutting board. Slice it lengthwise along the flat side next to the seed. Turn the mango over and repeat on the other side. You will have two halves of the mango with pulp inside. Carefully cut lengthwise through the mango pulp down to the skin, being careful not to cut through the skin. Turn the mango sideways and cut lengthwise again until you have a cross-hatch pattern. Turn the mango inside out using your thumbs to press the pulp outward. Carefully slice out the diced pulp by cutting between the cubed mango pulp and the skin. Discard the skin and seeds.

2. Place the banana, mango, tofu, milk and spinach into the blender. Blend on medium speed for 30 seconds.

3. Add ice cubes and blend again until smooth.

4. Pour into two frosty, tall drinking glasses. Enjoy!

BREAKFAST PANINIS

Ingredients
3 Italian bread rolls (pane)
Slices of your favorite cheese (mozzarella, parmigiano or fontina)
6 eggs
Favorite veggies (basil, tomatoes)
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

Instructions
1. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a skillet. On medium heat, scramble the eggs.
2. Slice the pane in half and assemble the sandwich in layers with the bread on the top and bottom. Use the pastry brush to apply the olive oil to the top and bottom of the pane roll. Add scrambled eggs last.
3. Heat both the small- and medium-sized sauce pans on medium heat and pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into the medium-sized saucepan.
4. Wearing oven mitts, place the sandwich in the medium-sized saucepan and then place the bottom of the smaller pan on the top of the roll to heat the bread and squish it down. Keep the smaller pan on top of the sandwich for 2 minutes and then use tongs to turn the sandwich over. Reapply the small sauce pan to the roll for 2 minutes.
5. Using the tongs, place the sandwich onto a plate.

Alternative:
Make your panini heartier by adding turkey or veggie bacon.

APPLE-LICIOUS TAQUITOS

Prepare these the night before and heat them before school.

Ingredients
Six 8- or 10-inch whole-wheat tortillas
1 large apple
1 cup of applesauce
¼ cup of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Dice the apple on a cutting board. Mix the diced apple with the applesauce and cinnamon in a medium bowl using a wooden spoon.
3. Use the pastry brush to lightly coat both sides of the tortillas with vegetable oil.
4. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the apple mixture in the center of each tortilla. Roll the tortillas to make a flute shape, then place them on the baking sheet.
5. Bake the tortillas for 20 minutes or until the tortillas become crispy. Then remove them from the heat and let them cool.
6. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of each warm taquito.

Alternative:
Add ½ cup of raisins to the apple mixture.

Categories: At Home, Family Health, Fit Family Challenge, Food + Fun, Health, Home, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Recipes, Work-Life, Work-Life Balance