You’ve probably been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as breakfast is where the day’s nutritional journey begins.
Your kids need fuel to energize themselves in the morning and power through until lunchtime, and the quantity and quality of that fuel is important. Growing kids have a lot of needs, and proper nutrition is necessary for healthy development. But how can you keep breakfast kid-friendly, even on busy mornings? Here’s how to set the tone for a healthy day with great breakfast options.
Why Is Breakfast So Important?
When you’re asleep, you’re in a fasting state. After you eat dinner, go to bed, and finally sit down to eat breakfast the next morning, it could be anywhere between ten and 14 hours since you’ve eaten. In other words, your body really wants nutrients and is eager to use up whatever you eat.
A healthy breakfast gives your body the perfect jump start when you’re breaking this fast. Your stomach has been empty for a long time, and higher-quality nutrition will better replenish the nutrients your body is missing.
What’s the Problem With Easy Breakfast Solutions?
Easy breakfast solutions are often delicious, quick, and convenient.
There's a whole aisle packed with brightly colored cereal boxes designed specifically to grab your youngster’s attention. Brands often mention on the front of the box that their cereal contains whole grains, which leads parents to believe that the cereal inside is healthy — so, what’s the issue?
Marketing is all about leading with the good news. It’s easy to see a buzzword on a box and associate that word with healthy choices, but the ingredients list and nutrition facts will tell you everything that you need to know.
Most packaged breakfast foods like cereals, flavored oatmeal, granola bars, and breakfast pastries are highly processed and packed with refined sugar, so, while they may be delicious breakfast options, they aren’t quite as nutritious as we want them to be.
That said, there may be plenty of alternatives, but it can be difficult to pick them out of the grocery shelf lineup without reading the ingredients list. When it comes to a tasty and healthy breakfast, it’s almost always best to just whip something up at home.
A family-size box of healthy cereal can cost as much as $10 for a pound of cereal, while a pound of plain oats is often less than half the price and takes a lot longer to get stale. By making breakfast at home, your grocery dollars will go further, and you may even prevent food waste.
How To Build a Healthy Breakfast for Kids
Every healthy, well-rounded meal combines lean protein, whole-grain carbohydrates, and healthy fats. These are the three cornerstones of a balanced diet, and the ideal healthy breakfast should contain all three pieces of the puzzle.
Healthy carbohydrates should be the majority of the breakfast, with a small serving of lean protein and an even smaller serving of healthy fat to round out your child’s plate.
8 Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids
Busy parents want to be able to feed their kids nutritious meals, but they don’t always have the time to cook from scratch. A green smoothie is a hard sell, even for grown adults, so it’s rare that a child will happily eat (or drink) a breakfast that’s healthy enough to be made in a blender. A healthy breakfast for kids often requires just a little more creativity.
Creativity doesn’t have to take up too much of your time or your grocery budget. Many of these healthy breakfast ideas can be prepped beforehand, and some only take a few minutes to prepare fresh.
1. Build Your Own Egg Scramble
Kids love when meals feel like a creative project, and they’re more likely to be excited to eat something they feel like they helped to prepare. Thanks to their mild flavor and agreeable texture, scrambled eggs are usually a hit with kids.
In addition to being high in protein and micronutrients, they’re also the perfect canvas for other micronutrients. You can scramble all different types of protein and vegetables together with your eggs. From black bean and egg breakfast burritos to steak or sausage with eggs, the list goes on forever. Then, you can add some veggies to the mix, like spinach, tomatoes, or zucchini. Just about any vegetable will work in an omelet or scramble, and your child likely won’t even notice it (or protest it).
If your kiddos are a bit more forgiving when it comes to vegetables, let them choose the veggies they want to add to their eggs. Humor your children a little bit, even if they choose unusual combinations. They may discover new vegetables they like, which will make mealtime much easier.
2. Fruit and Nut Butter Oats
Oatmeal is an excellent breakfast food in many ways, especially if it’s prepared from plain oats instead of a sweetened packet of flavored oats. Oatmeal is a whole grain packed with fiber, calcium, iron, and magnesium. It’s easy to prepare fresh, and overnight oats can be prepped ahead of time.
Adding nut or seed butter to oatmeal can boost the protein content and make the bowl tastier. Try peanut butter and banana oatmeal or almond butter oatmeal with blueberries. Households with nut allergies can swap nut butter for sunflower seed butter, which tastes very similar to peanut butter.
You can make your oats even more interesting by turning them into quick breakfast cookies by simply mixing all of your ingredients and tossing them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. French Toast or Waffle Bar
Some people don’t like the texture of oatmeal. If your picky eater doesn’t like mushy foods, swap out the oatmeal for some whole-grain French toast or waffles. It’s easy to find gluten-free bread and gluten-free waffle mix. You can also find bread or waffle mix that has been fortified with extra plant-based protein, which will help you save a meal prep step in your morning routine.
Children are eager to add in things like chocolate chips, and everything is fine in moderation, even if there is added sugar. A few semisweet chocolate chips in a whole-grain waffle won’t throw off the whole balance of a healthy breakfast — just encourage balanced choices by offering tasty and healthy toppings like fresh or dried fruit.
4. Yogurt Parfaits
Yogurt parfaits are simple to prepare in the morning. They’re also a great make-ahead breakfast. You can assemble some fruit and yogurt parfaits and top them with granola right before you serve them.
Parfaits made with dairy yogurt can be nutritional powerhouses. A serving of low-sugar Greek yogurt can pack more than 14 grams of protein into roughly 100 calories, making it one of the lightest sources of quality protein you can serve your family.
Plant-based yogurt doesn’t naturally contain a significant amount of protein. Soy-based yogurt alternatives usually contain less than half of the protein dairy yogurt contains. Be mindful of this if you live in a plant-based household. You’ll want to add another source of protein to your parfait, like chia seeds, nut butter, or seed butter.
Just beware of added sugars in yogurt as they can add up. At Hiya, we always make sure to wean out added sugars.
5. Egg Muffins and Sweet Potato Hashbrowns
Egg muffins and sweet potato hash browns are the perfect breakfast foods for kids who never turn down a cheeseburger and french fries. They’re very reminiscent of their favorite fast food, but they’re much lighter and more wholesome.
You can make egg muffins with scrambled eggs, egg whites, or egg patties on whole-grain English muffins. Add a little bit of cheese if your kids enjoy cheese. It’s easy to add veggies like sliced tomato and spinach. If you make them ahead of time and reheat them, just slide some veggies into the muffin before you serve the sandwiches.
6. Muffin Tin Egg Bites
Kids usually love anything that feels like a nugget. They’re avid lovers of finger foods and bite-sized snacks. Egg bites are the closest you can get to breakfast nuggets, and they’re very easy to make. You don’t need to go the fancy route and make sous vide eggs like an upscale breakfast restaurant. You can use mini muffin tins to accomplish the same effect with far less work.
Crack a few eggs, whip them up, and combine them with other ingredients like cheese, crumbled bacon, tofu crumbles, and veggies. Spritz a mini muffin tin with some avocado oil cooking spray, and pour the egg mixture into each well until they’re half full. Bake them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.
You can serve a few right away and refrigerate the rest. Prep them on Monday mornings for an easy go-to weekday breakfast. If you’re worried that your children might say “Oh, no, not that again!” you can break up the monotony by changing simple side dishes. Serve them with sweet potato tots, cottage cheese, or yogurt. It’ll be a little different every morning, even if the egg bites are still the same.
7. Silken Tofu Breakfast Burritos
If your household is vegan or if someone has an egg allergy, silken tofu is an excellent alternative to eggs. It can be crumbled, seasoned, and cooked the same way you’d prepare scrambled eggs. Combine silken tofu with black beans, avocado, and pico de gallo, and wrap it all up in a whole-wheat tortilla for a simple breakfast burrito. If you’re craving some cheesy flavor, add in some cashew cheese or nutritional yeast for a zesty tang.
8. Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
Nothing beats the simplicity and nutritional value of a one-skillet plant-based breakfast. Dice up sweet potatoes, onions, bell peppers, and tofu. Scramble them in a pan with a touch of olive oil or avocado oil. When they’re almost completely browned, toss in some kale or spinach.
Your vegan breakfast hash will feel a lot like scrambled eggs or an omelet but without any animal-based foods. You can serve this one up as a standalone breakfast or dole out small portions as a side dish for brunch.
How Can You Make a Healthy Breakfast for a Picky Eater?
Healthy foods can be a hard sell for children who are still developing their personal tastes. Some kids jump feet-first into the world of vegetables and fruits with no reservations. Other kids need a little more coaxing.
Keep serving up healthy breakfast recipes, and talk about how much you love your healthy breakfast. Leading by example can help your children understand the value of making healthy choices. They may come around with time. In the meantime, continue serving healthy options and avoid reverting back to the less healthy options you’re trying to keep off your kitchen table.
While your child is still learning to appreciate healthy foods, keep an eye on what they eat to make sure they’re still reaching their daily recommended value of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
The Wrap-Up on Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids
A fed child is always better than a hungry child. It’s okay if there are occasionally mornings where the best you can manage is a toaster tart, a quick bowl of cereal, or some granola bars with whatever fresh fruit you have sitting on the counter. It happens to the best of us.
By prepping healthy breakfasts when you have the time, you’re setting yourself (and your kids) up for an easier morning. At Hiya, we believe healthy routines matter. A few minutes of meal prep on Sunday evening can help you sail smoothly through the whole week.