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A Healthy Start to the Day



Stephen Dettling

It hasn't changed since you were a kid and you know it. Eating breakfast is an important part of powering-up your body for the day -- which means your kids need it. Actually, you all need it. A balanced breakfast can help keep your family alert, improve mood and reduce mid-morning food cravings. Only one of you and more of them? Get your kids involved in making breakfast -- even young kids can help get this important meal to the table. By having them help with simple cooking, your kids will be more connected to what they eat and more enthusiastic about eating it. The American Heart Association offers these ideas on creating quick healthy meals not only for your kids, but with them.

Oatmeal in an Instant
Instant oatmeal is great on a cold morning and contains fiber and vitamins. Choose oatmeal that is't already pre-sweetened. Sweeten it with raisins or fresh fruit.

Smoothie madness
Blend frozen fruit (bananas and berries are great), low-fat or fat-free milk, and 100% fruit-juice for a quick, tasty breakfast smoothie with lots of nutrients.

Go 100% whole grain
100% whole-grain, fiber-containing cereals served with low- or fat-free milk are a healthier alternative to sugary cereals. Whole-wheat muffins with smashed banana are easy and tasty as well.

Eggxactly!
Boil, scramble, or poach eggs and serve on whole-wheat toast - they're packed with nutrition and, in appropriate portions, are great for kids.

Toaster Treats
Frozen whole-grain waffles take almost no time to make. Top them with berries, low-sugar apple sauce or sliced bananas instead of syrup.

Go Nutty!
Spreading peanut or almond butter on whole-grain toast is a great way to get both protein and fiber.

Go Fruity
A fresh fruit cut up with a dollop of low-fat or fat-free yogurt is a great way to start the day. Apples contain fiber and bananas contain potassium.

Try All-Fruit Spreads
Instead of butter or margarine on toast, try all-fruit spreads, fruit butters, or even sliced bananas or strawberries.

Bagel Classics
Try a whole-wheat or sunflower seed bagel with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter.

Breakfast On-the-Go
Don't have time to eat breakfast at home? Keep whole-grain mini bagels on-hand, or muffins, nuts and dried and fresh fruits that can be taken in the car (apple slices and bananas are also easy and not too messy!).

Did you know?

  • People who eat breakfast are significantly less likely to be obese and diabetic than those who usually don't.

  • Children who eat breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination.

  • The State of Minnesota Breakfast Study showed that "students who ate breakfasts before starting school had a general increase in math grades and reading scores, increased student attention, reduced nurse visits, and improved student behaviors."

  • Unfortunately, many breakfast foods contain a lot of sugar and have been stripped of their natural nutrients. Try to avoid frosted and chocolate cereals, donuts, white bread and high-sugar breakfast bars. Instead of sugary juices, provide your children with 100% fruit juices or fat-free or low-fat milk. Eating only sugary foods may cause your child to have erratic energy levels. Eating a balanced breakfast will help get them going and sustain their energy until lunch time.

A healthy breakfast does not have to take a lot of time. Stick to the basics and serve simple foods that are nutritious and quick in the morning. For ideas, follow our ten tips for nourishing ways to kick-start the day. (SOURCE: American Heart Association)


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