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16 Aug, Tuesday
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Montreal Families

The many benefits of breakfast

You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After abstaining from food all night, the morning meal is to “break the fast” and reload a body with the energy it needs for the day. Without fuel in the tank, people of all ages soon are running on empty.

But there are some compelling reasons to make breakfast a priority in your family. Researchers are finding that children who eat a good breakfast every morning tend to concentrate and learn better at school. They have better attendance and higher test scores as well.

Eating breakfast may also protect children against obesity. By having a morning meal, children are less likely to become ravenously hungry later in the day and then overeat at another meal or snack on unhealthy foods.

However, managing to get food on the table in the wee hours of the morning can be a challenge for the parent who needs to get the family moving in time for the dash to school and work. But don’t throw in the towel! With determination and a little creative organization, you can make mornings and healthy meals a winning combination at your house every day. Here’s how:

Have a plan. While some kids enjoy eating a favourite cereal seven days a week, others find it boring. So try creating a list of different food items you could make for each day of the week. (Monday-oatmeal, Tuesday-eggs and toast, Wednesday-cereal and fruit, etc.) With a menu planned, you don’t have to think creatively at 7 a.m. And your kids know what to look forward to. Remember to ask for their input on the choices — they’re more likely to eat something if they’ve had a say in what is being served.

Cook ahead. There are lots of breakfast foods that can be made ahead of time to save you precious morning minutes. Bake a double batch of waffles or pancakes and freeze them. They can easily be reheated in the microwave or toaster. Egg dishes or coffee cake can be mixed up the night before and popped in the oven before you head to the shower in the morning. Even oatmeal or applesauce ingredients can be placed in the crockpot to cook overnight. What a great aroma to awaken you! Even setting out bowls, spoons, and boxes of cold cereal can save you time and make everyone eager to sit down and eat.

Avoid highly sugared foods. Better to let the kids sprinkle some granulated sugar on plain cereal than to buy Sugar Coated Candy Bombs for breakfast. They’ll have energy, all right, enough to send them to the moon. Save the sweets for dessert and limit your kids’ sugar intake in the morning. Their teachers will thank you for it.

Blend it. Smoothies are a nutritious and delicious option. Start with 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup yogurt, and 1/2 cup of your favourite fruit. Blueberries, bananas, and strawberries all work well. Blend until smooth. Adjust ingredients to suit your personal preferences. Often you can blend in high protein items (like tofu or wheat germ) without changing the flavour. Experiment until you find what your family likes.

Stick with whole grains. Breakfast will not pack as big a punch or have as long a staying power if it is composed of highly processed ingredients, like white bread and flours. Choose whole grain cereals and breads. When making pancakes or waffles, use half white flour and half whole wheat flour in the recipe. Make oats a regular part of your family’s diet. These changes may take some getting used to, but it will pay off in increased nutrition and energy for your family.

Think outside the box. Don’t hesitate to serve “non-traditional” foods for breakfast, such as your child’s favourite leftovers, a burrito, or a turkey sandwich. These are all great ways to start the day.

mom and child eating breakfastWhat’s for breakfast?

  • fruit and yogurt smoothies
  • yogurt
  • cottage cheese and fruit
  • oatmeal or other hot cereal
  • cold cereal
  • English muffin with peanut butter
  • breakfast sandwich (egg, cheese and sausage or ham on toast or an English muffin)
  • toast and cheese
  • eggs (hardboiled, scrambled, etc.) or omelettes
  • pancakes, waffles or French toast
  • bagels
  • muffins
  • scones
  • applesauce
  • quiche
  • breakfast burrito
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