Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.
So last week I declared the end of our family’s frozen waffles for breakfast rut. Among other things, in 2013 I gave myself a goal of making a healthier breakfast every day, leaving the boxed frozen waffles in the freezer and the cold cereal on the shelf.
Last weekend I asked for the help of Simple Kids readers, taking the conversation over to facebook where, every morning, I checked in with what we had for breakfast. No fancy challenge or anything like that, just simply checking in each morning and reporting on what our kids had for breakfast on the facebook page. It was great! You guys really encouraged me. Thank you!
This morning I’m back with a wrap-up of our week and five healthier breakfast ideas for kids.
Here’s the truth: when they came down to breakfast one of the first things my kids did was ask me where our usual boxed waffles were. However, thanks to some jelly glasses and the novelty of a pretty layered parfait for breakfast (“just like dessert, mama”) I was able to win them over and get something nutritious in them to start the day. Two of my kiddos even opted for seconds.
Our breakfast parfaits were layered with:
- Greek yogurt
- pecan maple granola
- sliced bananas
- frozen blueberries
One thing I did notice was that everyone seemed hungry again an hour later. While I don’t mind a hobbit’s serving of second breakfast, next time I’ll serve larger portions than jelly jar sized to keep bellies full until morning snack time.
Overall, everyone enjoyed these and they were pretty easy to put together – perfect for a Monday morning.
Tuesday: Banana Walnut Muffins
On Tuesday, I served banana walnut muffins along with apple cider. The recipe I used was a variation on Katie Kimball’s Pumpkin muffin recipe from Healthy Snacks to Go (which you can now get in paperback from Amazon in addition to the ebook version).
The morning didn’t go exactly as planned and the prep took a bit longer because I had two little early bird helpers up with me, which always adds some time to cooking. But while they were baking the house smelled so delicious and it was nice to spend the quiet early morning hours with my 17 month old and four year old before the rest of the family was awake and the day officially started.
It was a nice bonus to be able to pack some fresh-baked muffins into my husband’s lunchbox, too.
Max, my six year old, was not impressed and made himself a pb’n’j for breakfast but later his curiosity got the better of him and he asked to try one and ended up liking them, although he did request that next time I leave out the walnuts. I’m confident that with a bit of trial and error I’ll find a muffin combination that will please all of my kids.
Another successful breakfast.
Wednesday: Leftovers and eggs
Yes, that’s right: on Wednesday I served leftovers for breakfast.
We had potato, spinach, and portabello mushrooms for dinner the night before and in the morning I reheated them with a few scrambled eggs, grated a bit of cheddar over the top, and gave the kids the option to wrap it in a tortilla as a sort of breakfast burrito. I added some salsa to my own.
It might not have been the prettiest thing to look at, but it was warm, filling, and it was eaten up right away by my hungry crew, who didn’t seem to mind that it was just a variation on what they had had for dinner the night before.
It was delicious and fun, if I do say so myself. It took about fifteen minutes to pull together a serving for everyone, but that is still fairly quick for a mid-week breakfast. I think there are probably a number of leftover options that this scrambled egg addition would work well with, too.
Thursday: Oatmeal and a toppings bar
We went with an old stand-by for breakfast on Thursday: oatmeal with your choice of chopped apples, honey, walnuts, raisins, and sliced bananas for toppings. I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on top, too. This is a tried and true breakfast for us, one that I know my whole family enjoys.
Oatmeal is fairly easy, not too time consuming, and warming on a chilly day. And, of course, the variety of toppings makes all the difference when serving oatmeal to picky kids for breakfast. The more the merrier!
Friday: In a hurry!
Friday ended up being a crazy morning. A late start and a busy day meant we were in a hurry and I was very tempted to reach for something easy and pre-made. So I did! I grabbed a few slices of homemade bread, topped it with butter, sliced up some cheddar cheese, and a few kiwis. Ta da! It wasn’t fancy, but breakfast was served and in under five minutes.
Full disclosure: Max ate pizza leftover from the night before – are you noticing that the decenter is usually the same character in this little breakfast saga? Ha ha! Since it was basically bread with cheese and a veggie based sauce, I decided that was totally fine.
And, we made it! Five healthier week day breakfasts: mission accomplished.
On Saturday, I was craving comfort food, so I made a big batch of very gooey cinnamon rolls with extra icing. The irony of doing this after a week where I was striving for a healthy breakfast was not lost of me, but I decided that a once a week splurge was acceptable.
A few breakfast conclusions…
I learned from last week that busy mornings and unexpected events are just going to happen, even in the most well planned week, so I should prepare for them. Keeping that in mind, I’ve decided to look for a homemade waffle recipe that I can whip up a large batch of to freeze. Hmmmm, I wonder if my friend Aimee can help me out with that?
I also learned that a little grumbling when I make changes to their usual menu is to be expected, but I’m not going to let the occasional lament for candy-coated kids cereal (that is neither lucky nor charming) or that yellow box of freezer waffles keep me from my goal of giving my family healthier breakfast options in 2013.
This week taught me that it is sometimes a good idea to let the kids make their own breakfast if they don’t like what I’m serving. I’m still making just one meal, they get a bit of independence in the kitchen, and as long as there are plenty of healthy options, everyone ends up happy.
To do going forward:
I think I can keep going, now that we’ve gotten off to such a good start in the breakfast department, and I believe I can even add some ideas in to make mornings even healthier.
A few mini-goals:
- make a batch of waffles from scratch to keep in the freezer for “in a hurry” mornings
- make homemade granola
- make homemade tortillas
- try a healthy version of a breakfast cookie
- allow my kids, especially my son who tends to be on the picky side when it comes to breakfast, more independence in the kitchen and work with them to plan and provide breakfast options that they can prepare themselves
- prepare a breakfast meal plan the same way I plan for dinners during the week
- let Saturdays be a slightly sweeter day in a week of healthy eating
Thank you to all of you who joined in on facebook and on Instagram last week with your breakfast encouragement! I really appreciated your input and you helped me stay on track with my goals for the week.
And, friends? I feel it must be said that if you are currently in a toaster waffles and cold cereal season of life, as I have found myself many, many times, please know that there’s no need to find yourself feeling guilty, okay? We all do what we have to do and there are certainly larger things in life to worry about than a few shortcuts in the kitchen. Be gentle on yourselves.
What are some of you favorite healthy breakfast ideas for kids? How do you handle the early morning rush and get the day off to a healthy start?