Parents and teachers of school-aged children know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. HOWEVER, the time between the buzzing alarm clock and the honking school bus goes by at the speed of light! With Science Fair Projects, tests, trying on 10 outfits, and the inevitable bad hair days and fake belly aches, breakfast is the last thing you’re worried about in the morning. As long as you can shove something down the throats of your little ones and grab a granola bar for yourself on the way out the door, your good, right? Unfortunately, you’re not good. Not all breakfasts are created equal. You need a balance of good, healthy carbs with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains.
Evidence suggests after fasting all night, a developing body (and brain) needs a fresh supply of glucose — or blood sugar. That’s the brain’s basic fuel. (And on a side note… since we’re talking about the brain: The brain does it’s “memorizing” at night. In order to truly memorize something, you need a good night’s sleep after learning. So don’t cram for a test in the a.m. or pull an all-nighter!)
Terrill Bravender, professor of pediatrics at Duke University, told Allison Aubrey, an NPR reporter, in a 2006 interview, “Without glucose, our brain simply doesn’t operate as well. People have difficulty understanding new information, [they have a] problem with visual and spatial understanding, and they don’t remember things as well.”
Ok, ok… I will now step off my soap box. But seriously, as a teacher, I beg of you…
Here are some great breakfast ideas. Hopefully you can take one or two and incorporate them into your morning routine.
1. Breakfast Sandwich – Whole wheat toast, eggs, maybe a slice of ham… yum!
2. Fruit Smoothie – Delish with a slice of whole wheat toast and a schmear of peanut butter.
3. Oatmeal – Plain quick oats are my fav. They are cooked in 1 minute and you can add your choice of toppings. Try any of these or even a combo of a few: honey, sliced fruit, chopped dried fruit such as raisins, apricots, or prunes, a little brown sugar, a small spoonful of jam.
4. Plain Yogurt with Fresh Fruit and Honey – This is my new obsession. Top a bowl of tangy and tart non-fat plain yogurt (you could even try Greek) with fresh fruit slices, like blueberries and strawberries, with a drizzle of sweet honey. Served with a slice of whole wheat toast or 1/2 of a whole wheat English muffin and you’re in business!
5. Quinoa Pancakes – These can be made ahead of time and served 1000 different ways. I like to use the pancakes as I would bread and make either a breakfast sandwich out of them or spread them with peanut butter and top with banana slices. (Wouldn’t Elvis love that?)
6. Whole Wheat (and super easy) French Toast – Use sugar free syrup or none at all. You can top this with slices strawberries for added sweetness if you wanted to go sans syrup.
7. Whole Wheat Waffles as a base for just about anything – Toast up a whole wheat waffle and top it with whatever your heart desires: peanut or almond butter, scrambles eggs and tomato slices, a sunny side up egg with a slice of low fat cheese, etc.
8. Cottage or Ricotta Cheese Breakfast Burritos – Grab a whole wheat tortilla and fill it up with low fat cottage or ricotta cheese, a little bit of jam, fruit slices, and maybe a few chopped nuts. Think breakfast version of my Berry Turkey Wrap.
9. Breakfast Trail Mix – This is the ultimate “eat in the car” breakfast recipe. In a bowl, mix together basically whatever you have on hand! I like to use: unsalted peanuts, unsalted almonds, raisins, dried apple or apricot slices, bran cereal flakes, and whole grain oats cereal.
10. Made Your Way Omelets – Eggs are great for you in the morning! Served with a glass of milk, and you’re good to go! Omelets can be made with 1000 different ingredients (especially leftover ingredients from dinner the night before) so get creative. A few of my favorites: low fat cheese, bell peppers and onions, spinach and tomatoes, leftover stir fry veggies, leftover sliced turkey.
I hope you enjoy! If you have a breakfast idea, please leave it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
For more information on what Bravender has to say about the importance of breakfast, see NPR.