So let’s talk about breakfast for a minute. School starts next week and the kids have to eat before they head out the door. At least, that is my house rule — yes all that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” stuff. I believe this 100%. I also believe in letting kids make their own choices.
School starts, and all of sudden mornings go from lazy to full out rush-crazy. Overnight. Kids need to eat, everyone needs to get ready for school and work, and you need to stay sane. And you probably want to leave the house with a relatively clean kitchen too.
Here are a few tips to get everyone out the door, quickly, maximize nutrition (without feeling like a control freak) and without making a crazy mess of your kitchen.
1. Kids can’t make good choices if they have nothing to choose from.
Keeping the kitchen well stocked is essential. Make it easy for kids to make healthy choices and then get out of the way. Fresh fruit, whole grain cereals, nuts, seeds, an electric kettle for boiling water and a toaster is all you need.
2. Keep it simple.
That super healthy, whole-grain pancake recipe you saw on Pinterest last night? Nope, not for Monday to Friday. Sorry. The last thing I have time to do is bust out a batch of scratch pancakes at 7 am. Morning hours are precious – use them wisely.
3. Prep on the weekend.
Bake a batch of muffins or some other grab-and-go breakfast treat. Not every muffin makes a good breakfast – I admit that many do not. Choose carefully.
Try to find something that is low in sugar and full of whole grains like these Millet and Oat Muffins or this Carrot Cake Breakfast Bar. I promise I won’t judge when the kids are eating at the bus stop. (PS – it’s nice to have these on hand for quick lunches too).
4. Smoothies, of course!
Teach the kids how to use the blender and simple proportions needed for single serve smoothies (tip! – there are markers on the side of your blender jar – use them).
Always have a selection of frozen fruit in the freezer and a container of protein powder in the cupboard for a quick breakfast. Simple ratio – 1 cup frozen fruit. 1 cup liquid. 1/2 scoop of protein powder. Add more milk, a splash at a time if you need it. We like North Coast Naturals 100% Iso-Protein Vanilla the best.
5. Set a spot in your fridge with small containers of healthy stuff kids can add to their plain oatmeal or cold cereal.
I buy plain minute oats and the kids boil water in an electric kettle to make their own (no microwave or stove top needed — just let the oats sit for a couple of minutes in the hot water and I promise they are smooth and creamy). And yes, I know, believe me, I know how you feel about cold cereals. Call it a comprise, or picking your battles.
Buy what you are comfortable with and then let the kids (read – strongly suggest) sprinkle those “healthy toppings” on top. In my fridge you will find 500ml mason jars with ground flax, North Coast Naturals Ultimate Daily Cleanse (for fiber and pre-biotics), North Coast Naturals Hemp Seeds (for protein and healthy fats), sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and several varieties of dried fruit. My kids have been sprinkling ground flax and hemp seeds on their Cheerios since they were two.
6. Teach your kids about serving sizes.
Buy an extra set of measuring cups and spoons. Nothing fancy. You aren’t going to use these for baking or cooking. Stick 1/4 cup in the bag of granola, and 1/3 cup in the bag of quick oats. This doesn’t mean your kids need to measure their food – its about giving them a tool that will help them understand what a healthy portion is: 1 scoop for a snack, 2 scoops if you are really hungry. A 1 teaspoon measure in the sugar bowl is a good idea too.
Trish from In Fine Balance posts recipes that are mostly plant-based, but always minimally processed, practical and great-tasting. She says her food is about “making honest and informed choices everyday.” She doesn’t believe in following a strict diet, counting things or living up to unrealistic ideals of perfection. She also posts about her adorable kids, her experiences in running, healthy meal plans and food tips and tricks.