Summer is a good time to break bad breakfast habits because kids aren’t rushing out the door to school. Take the time to experiment a little and try some new foods. These dishes can be as simple or jazzed up as you like. They are all wildly nutritious and will provide the perfect ratios of carbs, protein, and fat to get your day off to a rollicking start.
All of these breakfasts can easily be prepared on the run, whether you’re camping or in vacation homes. If you’re at a hotel, look for similar versions of these at diners and cafés. You may need to ask questions and request some customization.
First of all, Why is Breakfast so Important?
Silky Ice Smoothies!
This is a home-run way to start the day—just make sure it’s not sugared up.
Why is this a perfect choice for kids?
- You can choose the ingredients you like from an endless array of healthy options.
- Kids can make it themselves.
- You can swap things in and out all the time. Remember that a varied diet is the best way to get all your nutrients.
- Smoothies are an easy and non-intimidating way to consume tons of veggies.
- It’s fast, especially if you pre-cut fruits and veggies the night before (and store them in an airtight container)
My favorite blender is the Vitamix. It is pricey but well worth the investment. I also like the Nutribullet and sometimes travel with it.
This is a great kids starter smoothie. Here is an advanced version for the adventurous. And here is my super fun nutrition-building card game for kids!
Hearty Fruity Oatmeal.
What’s the difference between rolled and steel oats?
Oatmeal comes from oat groats, which are the most intact form of this grain. (They are hulled but still contain the bran, endosperm, and germ of the grain). They look like like giant rice kernels, and when chopped in thirds they become steel cut oats, which retain the integrity of groats but cook faster. Rolled are also acceptable—they are thinner after being flattened in heavy rollers and look like flakes. Instant oats are pulverized into bits so that they cook really fast and are missing the nutritious hull and bran. If you have an Instant pot you just measure in water and oats, press a button, and release the lid when it beeps. They’re also easy to make in a saucepan on the stove, it just requires more supervision and stirring.
- Sweeten without sugar/honey/maple syrup by mashing in a banana. The more banana the sweeter, so try different amounts to taste.
- Good fat helps you stay full so add a spoonful of coconut oil and/or a large pat of pastured butter. Toss in any kind of berries and nuts.
- Try something new on top: hemp hearts, flaxseed, spirulina, cinnamon, ginger (These ingredients are all in my Good Food Fighter kids smoothie game!). Or you can go for the healthy dessert idea: shredded carrots, date paste, and cinnamon…tastes like carrot cake!
Here are some great recipes: 50 Best Oatmeal Recipes on the Planet
Turns out you can have a lot of fun with oatmeal and change it up regularly to keep it fresh and exciting. Try using half the quantity of recommended sweetener in any recipe—whether it’s maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, or agave. These are all better choices than white sugar or brown sugar because they contain valuable nutrients. But they still raise blood sugar, so not too much. Remember: you can adapt your palate to need less of a fix and break your sugar addiction!
Here’s a grain-free Paleo alternative for those not eating oats: Primal Oatmeal
Eggs are like a blank canvas. There’s so many ways to cook them. Omelettes are elegant but I prefer a scramble because it’s more forgiving and there are endless variations. You can jazz up an egg with all kinds of accompaniments. I like mushrooms, onions, scallions, garlic, spinach, parsley, and cilantro. Any combination works. Your kids can experiment! I recently started using the green tops of my beets instead of composting them. They have a mellow flavor with a little pizzazz. Sauté the ingredients in a (safe) nonstick pan with olive or avocado oil. Then crack two eggs in and scramble it all together with a wooden spoon. Want the kids to love it? Throw in a little cheese….
How do you make the consistency perfect? Check out these tips for fluffy and moist eggs.
There are lots of familiar flavors in this one so it will appeal to most kids: Hearty Egg Scramble
Upgrades for more adventurous palates
- A fantastic alternative once your kids start liking greens: Avocado and Poached Eggs
- A paleo egg tortilla without the tortilla! Mediterranean Egg Scramble with Greens
- Want to use up some leftovers? Scrambled Eggs with Zucchini (Note that I would use yogurt or kefir instead of milk.)
- Put scrambled eggs on top of half an avocado.
- Serve with smoked fish like lox.
- Add spices and herbs like cumin, cayenne and dill.
- Include beans on the side.
One more for the road: Creamy Yogurt
Whole non-sweetened yogurt provides the perfect balance of carbs, fat, and protein for breakfast. Find a brand that is organic with no added sugar and then get creative. You can use all the same toppings as the oatmeal—nuts, berries, spirulina, etc. But what I find amazing about yogurt, is that if you can banish your sugar addiction, you grow to love the rich, slightly sour taste of yogurt all on its own. I consume a brand that is “drinkable” by just sticking a metal straw in the container. Kefir is also a good choice.
Here are some great topping ideas for yogurt bowls. 6 Simple Greek Yogurt Breakfast Bowls
Keep in mind that the idea is not to cram as much as possible into the yogurt or to sweeten it as many ways as possible. A really good yogurt is delicious all on its own and the challenge for all our sugar-corrupted palates is to learn to appreciate the innate goodness of food without making it sweet. Yogurt is naturally sour, and while the sourness may be more of a learned taste than sweetness, once you grow to appreciate it you will love it. And so will your kids.
Brands I like:
- Fage. I stick to whole milk, or full-fat yogurt. This is always the most natural, unprocessed version. If it has too many calories, you can have a smaller serving.
- Siggi’s. No fruit, no sugar, just the base. You can add everything you need.
- Mother Culture. The very best I’ve ever tasted. So rich and creamy it tastes like dessert.
- Brown Cow. Not homogenized so the cream rises to the top.
- Green Valley. If you’re lactose-intolerant.
What will you have for breakfast tomorrow? Think about how you will cajole your kids into trying something new. How can you get them excited? What if they help prepare it and get to make a lot of choices?
I’d love your feedback and to hear what your kids say, so please leave comments below.
p.s. Here’s what to NOT have for breakfast….
More great articles on raising healthy veggie-loving kids:
Thanks for this useful article. I shudder when I think about the marketing machines working hard to make processed foods attractive to our children.
Thanks for fighting the good fight.
Your articles show your expectations of the people who need your help all have the financial means to purchase things such as a Vitamix and fresh fruits and vegetables daily, yet 13% of the population falls below the poverty line. While this isn’t a very high number if you look at the precent of those who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes 71-87% are below the poverty line.
I challenge you to look at the food stamp allotment in your area, and develop a way to eat healthy using only this amount of money for one month. I further challenge you to make this your family food budget for the month, eat the way families who often have to go to food pantries and rely on free breakfast and lunch from school have to eat. Develop an affordable, healthy, sustainable meal plan which takes into account mom working 2 jobs and having no where to prepare a smoothie or chopped salad. Develop a meal plan for parents who have to live in hotels because Covid cost them their home. You seem to actually care about those you write about, but you also seem to be of the option that everyone has the same resources. Help your clients who can not afford the luxury of a vacation and fancy blender to be able to eat and feed their family a diet conducive with healthy blood work.
Good Food Fighter says
Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I was very moved by what you had to say and am grateful for your honesty and courage. I am profoundly sorry about your difficult circumstances. The issues you raised are very important and pressing and apply to many families across America (and the globe). The problem is multi-layered and the solution requires a national commitment to health and nutrition, which is not currently forthcoming. However, there are many, many strategies to eat healthy on a limited budget and I have decided to devote a blogpost to this subject. I hope that you will subscribe so as not to miss it.
Wishing you health and luck and perseverance,
-Nina, your GFF