Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That’s because it fires up and fuels your noggin. Repeat: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
The question is … are your kids (and you!) eating it? If not, you all should be.
“Breakfast is key for adults and children alike, since it provides the body and brain with energy after the overnight fast. Remember, during the night the body is repairing and healing itself, for kids, growing as well. So a new dose of valuable nutrients gives the brain the energy it needs to get the body back in motion and the brain back to learning,” says Christen Cooper, MS, RD of Cooper Nutrition.
Despite the importance of breakfast, it’s a too-often often skipped meal, Cooper notes. “Recent data indicate that about 5% of children ages 2-5 skip breakfast, as do 14% of children ages 6 to 11. This number jumps during adolescence to 31% (ages 12 and 19), with girls skipping breakfast more often than boys,” says Cooper, referencing a study published in 2000 in the Journal of Adolescent Health. “For children ages 6 to 11 and 12 to 19, breakfast provides 15% to 18% of daily energy, yet it provides from 15% to almost 40% of daily intake for various vitamins and minerals and daily fiber.”
So when kids skip breakfast or eat less than nutritious ones, they head off to school without the necessary fuel to learn.
Your Body and Brain on Breakfast
Let’s talk breakfast foods for a second. What is a healthy breakfast anyway? A healthy breakfast is balanced and hearty enough to keep your kids (and you) going until lunchtime.
Cereals? They aren’t always the best choice unless you are super diligent about checking labels. “Avoid sugary kid-marketed cereals. Fortified or not, these highly processed food-ish items offer little health benefit,” advises Debra Wolf, MS Clinical Nutrition, who practices out of the Naugatuck Valley Women’s Health Specialists in Middlebury, CT. “High fructose corn syrup, a common ingredient in processed food, may be linked to increased plasma triglycerides and insulin resistance. In addition, certain artificial flavors and colors have been implicated in childhood disorders such as ADHD.”
Instead, go for well-rounded breakfasts that include items from several important food groups like fruits, dairy and grains. Which ones?
According to Cooper, the ideal breakfast includes:
- Fruit, a food to encourage, providing soluble fiber (heart healthy), vitamins and minerals
- Whole grains (providing fiber, B vitamins, minerals including folate which prevents neural tube defects). Ready-to-eat (cold or hot) breakfast cereals have been shown to promote nutrient adequacy in kids, since they are fortified and palatable to kids.
- Dairy (providing calcium and protein…Americans do not get enough lowfat and nonfat dairy)
- Lean protein (egg whites, lowfat cheese) Lean protein leads to satiety and in many people, the ability to eat reasonable portions. It also provides materials for growth and repair of body tissues.
5 Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes
Convinced on the importance of breakfast? Good. Now, let’s talk a little about what to make. One great option is to make the main component of your breakfast ahead of time. These breakfast ideas are perfect for that.
- Bacon, Egg and Cheese Bites
- Breakfast Blueberry Cake
- Whole Wheat Applesauce Graham Muffins with Streusel Topping
- Asparagus Swiss Mini Frittatas
- Red Pepper and Scallion Mini Frittatas
6 Quick Breakfast Recipes
Have time to make something fresh? These breakfast ideas are quick and easy — but totally loveable too.
- Whole Grain Toast with Mashed Avocado and An Egg
- Delicate Ham and Cheddar Omelet
- Spinach and Cheddar Egg White Omelet
- Swiss and Roasted Asparagus Omelet
- Toasty Coconut and Caramelized Banana Oatmeal Recipe
- French Toasted Apple Grilled Cheese
15 More Breakfast Ideas from Around the Web
So many great breakfast ideas can be found around the web. These 15 breakfast recipes are perfect for kids and adults alike.
- Avocado Breakfast Toast on Bell’alimento
- Crispy Gooey Trail Mix Bars on Family Fresh Cooking
- Homemade Pop Tarts on Healthy Green Kitchen
- Whole Wheat Vanilla Chocolate Chip Pancakes on Tickled Red
- Whole Wheat Raspberry and Mango Pancakes on Two Peas & Their Pod
- Spinach and Dubliner Cheese Egg Cups on The Little Kitchen
- Spinach Egg Breakfast Cups on Sweetnicks
- Green Chile and Cheese Egg Muffins on Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Freezer Sausage and Egg Burritos on The Sweets Life
- Speedy Huevos Rancheros on The College Culinarian
- Blueberry Smoothie on Bell’alimento
- Green Smoothies on Aggie’s Kitchen
- 1 Minute Blueberry Citrus Shake on Family Fresh Cooking
- Layered Fruit and Yogurt Salad on Eclectic Recipes
- Overnight Blueberry Almond Oats on Two Peas & Their Pod
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.