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Smart Starts

by Michelle Ostrowski

Now that you’re a parent you understand the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.  You strive to make sure your little ones eat a nutritious and healthy breakfast, but sometimes our little ones have other plans.  Sometimes we get in a breakfast rut and need some inspiration to think outside the box and get excited about breakfast again.  Sometimes we are short on time and need something that’s quick to prepare.  Below you will find tips and ideas for getting your brood to eat a wholesome breakfast each day.

1. Smoothies. We are huge fans of smoothies in our house.  I make them almost everyday, and not just for breakfast. They are a hit with little ones because they are naturally sweet (although you can sweeten them to taste with honey, dates, or prunes), and parents love them because they are nutrient dense, meaning you can really pack a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals and all things healthy into one little cup. The probiotics in the yogurt are great for kids’ tummies and a 1-cup serving of the 2% Fage Greek yogurt has 46% daily value of protein. Our favorite is cocoa-peanut butter-banana, but the great thing about smoothies is that anything goes.  Milk (cow, almond, soy, coconut, etc.), yogurt, and any fruit you can think of goes into a blender, and in seconds you have a healthy breakfast that kids love.

**Tip:  Add a handful of spinach (frozen or not), avocado, or dry, uncooked oatmeal for more good-for-you stuff!

2. Change your idea of what breakfast is.  Who hasn’t eaten leftover pizza for breakfast?  Or breakfast for dinner?  Well how about dinner for breakfast? Nobody says breakfast has to be strictly “breakfast foods”. Did your kids devour that meatloaf you served them for dinner last night?  Go ahead and serve it for breakfast. As long as it’s healthy and your kids will eat it, I say why not?  Many times my kids have loved the previous night’s dinner so much that I serve it for breakfast (ok, or I was too lazy to make something new).  Do your kiddos love tuna sandwiches? While you may not sound thrilled at the prospect of eating fish first thing in the morning, this may be just the thing to get your little ones to be excited about their breakfast.

3. Be artistic.  Shape your kids’ banana slices into a snake using peanut butter to hold it together and raisins for eyes. Make rainbows out of their fruit or silly faces with their pancakes.  Ask them to get in on the fun and create something themselves.  If you’re not the creative type, do a Google image search for food art to gain inspiration.

4. Make and freeze.  If being short on time is your breakfast dilemma, try baking or cooking a large batch and freezing the leftovers.  Then all you will have to do in the morning is pop your breakfast in the microwave and be on your way.  Wondering what to freeze? Some of our favorites include cranberry orange oat muffins, breakfast cookies, whole wheat pancakes, whole-wheat-banana-oatmeal-Greek-yogurt waffles, sausage-egg casserole, breakfast burritos, sliced honey zucchini bread or whole wheat banana bread. There is an abundance of healthy recipes on Pinterest and the Web, so find one that your kids enjoy and get cookin’!

5. Savory oatmeal.  This healthy little grain is so versatile and it has so much potential just waiting to be unleashed.  We all are familiar with “sweet” oatmeals… cinnamon-raisin, apple-cinnamon, cocoa-peanut-butter-banana (YES!), but what about savory oatmeals? Just like it sounds, these oatmeals incorporate anything savory — eggs, bacon, sausage, spices, cooked vegetables, salt & pepper, cheese.  Once again, anything goes. Get creative and experiment to see what your kids like. Fortunately, kids really have no pre-conceptions about what oatmeal should be, unlike adults, and will take to savory oatmeal like any other yummy breakfast food.

6. Experiment with different grains.  Oatmeal isn’t the only grain suitable for a breakfast porridge-of-sorts.  Quinoa, bulgur wheat, and amaranth are all seriously nutritious grains that deserve some of our your family’s attention as well.  Cooking directions differ for each, but they can all be treated like oatmeal — a bland grain waiting to soak up whatever yumminess you decide to put in!  One of our favorites: amaranth pudding. Delish!

Break away from your usual breakfast routine and try some of these tips. Get creative and think outside the box. I challenge you to try each of these tips, and I almost guarantee that you will keep them on your morning rotation.

Author Michelle Ostrowski is a stay-at-home mom of 2-year old twins. She shares her recipes, parenting tips, craft ideas and more over at her blog “A Musing Mamma” at www.amusingmamma.blogspot.com

Photo: A Musing Mamma