DENVER — Kids have different needs from us, and given that this is a critical time of growth and development, it’s a good idea to make their meals as nutrient dense as possible. 

Breakfast is a great opportunity to get much needed nutrients into your child. Kids that eat high quality breakfasts have better academic scores, better mood and are more likely to maintain a healthy body weight. Additionally, kids that have a healthy diet  (which starts with a healthy breakfast) were found to have higher IQ’s than kids whose diets were highly processed. Above all else, go for REAL foods when choosing breakfast options.

Provide adequate time to actually eat breakfast

First off, try and avoid the on the run, in the car breakfast. It’s more likely to be something quick, convenient and above all processed. Breakfast skippers are found to have reduced attention spans and tend to make poor nutrition choices throughout the day.

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Remember, the goal is not to just get calories in, but quality calories. Further, studies show that allowing more time, even ten extra minutes to get breakfast in increases nutrients. 

Focus on protein

Multiple studies show that having protein at breakfast helps to combat obesity and also increased fullness and cravings. Protein is not easy to digest, so it takes longer for the body to metabolize it. This is a much better option than just a sugar laden breakfast cereal or a toaster strudel that simply spikes insulin and blood sugar.

BEST BETS: Whole eggs, protein packed pancakes, no added sugar nut butter on sprouted grain bread, nitrate free chicken sausage with a side of steel cut oats topped with bananas, whole milk yogurt topped with non added sugar high fiber cereal, tofu and egg scramble with quinoa and veggies, breakfast quiche cups with mozzarella cheese and spinach

Sneak in a fruit or vegetable

Kids aren’t eating enough fruits or vegetables and studies show that these nutrient dense options are often substituted for junk food. Breakfast is a perfect environment to cross a serving off the list. Making time for the entire family to eat breakfast can help with increasing fruit and vegetable consumption as well. Additionally, adding on a fruit means adding in more color. Color in plants signifies healthiness and the more color a plant is, the better it is for your health. Phytonutrients provide color to plants and have also been found to help reduce the risk of chronic disease.

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BEST BETS: Finger fruits can be easy to add to any dish, like berries, or banana slices. You can also consider adding vegetables as well. A sweet potato and sausage hash is a great way to get a veggie in and any vegetable can be chopped small enough to add to an omelet.

Add in healthy fats and fiber 

Fat helps kids absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, E, D, and K and it also helps to keep your little one full and satisfied. Choose unsaturated over saturated options the majority of the time but above all else, choose real. For example I opt for butter over margarine and whole milk over skim. Your child also needs plenty of fiber as well to help keep bathroom business normal and

BEST BETS: No added sugar nut butter and jelly balls with chia or flax seed and manuka honey (over 1 yr old), avocado toast on whole grain bread with olive oil drizzle, old fashioned oats with chopped walnuts and raisins.

The foods in the best also happen to be high in important nutrients as well like choline, iron, and calcium, all of which have been found to helps kids brain, immunity and overall health.

Finally, involve your child in breakfast options age appropriately. The more buy in your little one has from helping to choose, shop and make, the more likely the food will be an exciting component to their school day. You can also discuss the importance of choosing quality ingredients with children as well.

Recipes

Protein packed maple pancake with fresh blueberries

You can but a protein pancake mix or simply use a whole grain option and add protein powder to it. I add in about 2 tsp of pure maple syrup which sweetens it and (hopefully) allows for less sugar being added to the top. You can also add an egg to the mix for ever more protein and added fat.

Peanut butter and jelly balls with flaxseed and manuka honey (on the go option)

Mix ½ cup of peanut butter (no sugar added, crunchy or creamy) and adds 2 tsp ground flax seed, 1 tsp honey. Form into balls and store in freezer.

Sweet potato, sausage and egg hash

Cube 1 sweet potato and mix in bowl with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until soft. Scramble two eggs in olive oil or butter and mix with 3 cut up sausage links and ½ the sweet potato cubes.

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