Breakfasts for busy school days
For most people, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and what they eat at the start of the day has a large influence on how they feel and how much they eat at the end of the day.
Children especially benefit from a decent breakfast. New Zealand research found that children who participated in a breakfast club improved their concentration and attendance at school — supporting international research that children who eat breakfast are more likely to engage in school than those who don’t.
It also matters what they eat — while any food is better than no food, one with a higher protein content will improve satiety and diet quality in general, and reduce the requests for treats later on.
However, I work with a lot of parents who just do not have the time to cook a breakfast in the morning. Thankfully, that’s not necessary.
Foods such as eggs, yoghurt, cottage cheese, cheese, meat products, nuts and seeds can all contribute to a higher-protein breakfast and there are ways to whip them up in almost the same amount of time it takes for the toaster to pop.
In addition, while some breakfast cereals advertise a higher-protein content, the type of protein typically added (gluten) can wreak havoc with energy levels and blood sugars later in the day making for children who will be tired and cranky come 3pm.
That does not mean cereal is off the menu, we just need to be smart about it. Reducing the amount of cereal or toast eaten and including more of the foods that will keep them going is a matter of changing a few things on the plate.
- Toast and a smoothie with the right ingredients offers a complete breakfast. Opt for one piece of toast with a favourite topping. Play around with different combinations. Scrambled eggs or cheese and Marmite are two higher fat, protein options. A couple that I enjoy are avocado, strawberries, feta and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. And all natural peanut (or other nut) butter with kiwifruit chia jam (homemade with 3 green kiwifruit, 2 Tbsp chia seeds, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and the zest of 1/2 lemon). For that smoothie — along with milk, 1/2 a banana and berries, sneak in some spinach and avocado. The kids will never notice.
- Make overnight oats with wholegrain oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and grated apple or pear. Soak overnight in a mix of coconut milk and unsweetened almond milk, or Greek-style yoghurt and top with fresh or thawed frozen berries to serve. You can make this in batches to last two or three mornings.
- Pre-make flourless crepes or pancakes: 2 eggs plus 1 heaped tsp cacao powder, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon, a pinch of salt (you can also add 1 tsp peanut or nut butter). This is enough for one person, so multiply for more hungry tummies. You can fill these with banana, freshly grated coconut, peanut butter, Greek-style yoghurt, a small drizzle of coconut milk — whatever you like! Pre-made, this becomes a two-minute breakfast so long as you’ve got toppings on hand.
- One-minute mug muffin: Mix together 1/2 grated apple, 1 egg, 1 Tbsp almond flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and pour into a microwave-proof cup that has been lightly greased with butter or coconut oil. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Leave for 3 minutes to finish cooking. Remove from cup and serve with Greek-style yoghurt or cottage cheese. Super quick and yummy for hungry morning tummies.
- Make a chia seed pudding (all the rage right now) with cottage cheese as opposed to coconut milk or yoghurt. It’s a great source of protein and, when blended in a food processor or a magic bullet, it’s as smooth as yoghurt. Whizz together 1/2 a ripe banana, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1 Tbsp chia seeds and a touch of cinnamon. Leave overnight and top with some fresh or frozen berries and chopped nuts. This is enough for one serve.