Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Top Five Before School Breakfasts

The most important meal of the day is a big deal in our house. Before Leo started kindergarten breakfast would stretch until nearly lunch. We'd linger at the table and eat several "courses" in a row. We'd snack on fruit, eggs, and/or pancakes. Now our mornings are much more...compact. We find ourselves rushing around trying to get dressed, pack lunches and make sure homework and library books are ready to go...nevermind when it's cold out and we have to add hats/coats/gloves to the routine. Still, we need to make sure we send the kids off with tummies full of something that will keep them going until lunch. Whipping up something that is nutritious and can be ready in 15 minutes or less is our goal. Here are our go-to breakfasts:

1. Green Smoothie

Smoothies might be the king of quick breakfasts because throwing a few handfuls of fruit and greens into the blender takes about a minute - plus, they are easy to toss into a straw cup to drink on the go. Sometimes we add in some yogurt for extra calcium and a bit of protein. The best part? We pour any unused leftovers into popsicle molds and the kids will devour them as an after school treat.

2. Oatmeal

When we make this in the morning it is ready in under 15 mins, but when we have the foresight to make a batch for the week it cuts the time down to a 30-second microwave wait. This breakfast never gets old since we rotate the mix-ins, though our family favorite is apples and cinnamon. Can't beat it on a cold morning!

3. Bird in a Nest with Brussels Sprout Hash 

This is probably the meal on the list with the longest prep time. A bird in a nest can be ready in just a few minutes (just crack the egg into the cutout in the bread - we use cookie cutters to make the hole, but a cup works, too). The hash can be made by sautéing leftover veggies (brussels sprouts are our fave, and the one pictured also has sweet good!) and a strip or two of bacon. Just chop everything up finely and toss around a hot pan with butter. A bit more involved than other meals, but a great foundation for the day.

4. Bake aheads: Quiche or Muffins

Some mornings even 15 minutes is too much to spare...these morning we rely on grab and go options. These require some forethought, but end up being worth it to have something nutritious ready to go on those mornings when we are rushing. We try to have quiche muffins, banana/zucchini muffins, pancakes or hardboiled eggs on hand to pop out of the freezer/fridge and eat on the way to school. Sure beats a toaster pastry.

5.  Parfait

When I make parfaits the kids think they are getting sundaes for breakfast. I layer yogurt, berries (fresh or frozen thawed in the microwave a few seconds), granola, and bit of honey. I do make my own granola, but it's super easy and I like that I can control the ingredients. I usually double up on the nuts to make it extra filling and pump up the protein. You can put it in a bowl, but presentation goes a long way with kids (I guess that's why those ridiculous bento box lunches are so popular on Pintrest) so we fancy it up with a parfait glass.

I've got nothing against a bowl of cereal or a frozen waffle, but I do prefer to try and get something nutritionally dense and homemade on the table for breakfast when possible. Being able to control the ingredients (i.e. leaving out the junk and sneaking in some extra healthy stuff) in what my kids eat isn't always possible, especially now with birthday parties, snacks at activities, and treats at school. So when I can maximize the nutritive profile of what my family is eating, I do. It makes the treats we do indulge in all the more enjoyable.

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