When it's mid-morning and you barely have the energy to even look at your to-do list, never mind tackle it, your breakfast may be to blame. Eating a breakfast with the right balance of carbohydrates, fiber, protein and fat gives you enough energy to last through lunch -- and also increases your concentration and helps you maintain a healthy weight. A healthy breakfast doesn't have to be boring either, with all of the quick, low-fat options that are available. There's no need to make one breakfast for you and a different one for your children. These healthy breakfast options are kid-friendly and will get your kids' days off to a good start.
Elements of a Healthy Breakfast
To get the optimum benefits from your morning meal, MayoClinic.com suggests that your breakfast should ideally feature four core elements: whole grains for carbohydrates and fiber, low-fat protein, low-fat dairy for calcium, and fruits and vegetables for fiber and vitamins. When you eat a meal that features all these elements, you're more likely to feel full and have energy to get you through the morning. For example, make a breakfast burrito with a whole grain tortilla, a scrambled egg, some low-fat cheese and a spoonful of salsa. If salsa is too spicy for your children, try ketchup or creamy salad dressing. This burrito takes only a few minutes to prepare, and you can take it with you if you're in a hurry.
Eggs are a breakfast staple, offering plenty of protein with a minimum of fat and calories; the American Heart Association recommends limiting your egg intake to one per day. If you're concerned about cholesterol, prepare an egg white omelet for a quick breakfast. Add chopped veggies -- leftovers from last night's dinner are a great option -- and some chopped lean meat, such as turkey sausage, plus a sprinkle of low-fat cheese for a healthy and satisfying breakfast. If you're in a rush, beat an egg with a splash of milk in a coffee cup, add some cheese, and cook in the microwave for a minute for a tasty egg scramble. Add some kid-friendly flavor to any of these egg dishes by beating the egg with a bit of ranch seasoning mix. Serve with a slice of whole grain toast, and grab a piece of fruit on the way out the door for a complete breakfast.
If your family isn't in the mood for eggs, you can still prepare a balanced breakfast for energy. Warm up a whole-grain waffle and, instead of slathering it with maple syrup and butter, spread on a tablespoon of peanut butter. Serve the waffle with a bowl of fresh fruit and a glass of low-fat milk to get all of your nutritional needs. Another option is a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Choose a cereal that is high in fiber and low in sugar and calories. Top with fresh fruit and low-fat milk for a quick breakfast that will keep you and your kids satisfied until lunch. Portable breakfast pizzas also give you the nutrients you need. Top a whole-wheat English muffin with a slice of tomato, some low-fat cheese, turkey sausage and creamy dressing -- broil or toast until heated through.
Fruit and Yogurt
With some advance prep work, a healthy smoothie is a quick and easy breakfast option. At night, add fresh fruit, yogurt and a splash of milk or juice to a blender. Store the blender jar in the fridge. In the morning, add some ice and blend until smooth. For extra protein, add a scoop of protein powder to the smoothie before you blend; follow the package instructions. Fruit and yogurt parfaits also give you energy in the morning. Layer low-fat, low-sugar yogurt with fruit and top with low-fat granola; choose Greek yogurt for an extra boost of protein. Add some ground flaxseed to the yogurt for extra fiber.
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- MayoClinic.com; Healthy Breakfast: Quick, Flexible Options to Grab at Home; February 2011
- WebMD; The Benefits of Yogurt; Elaine Magee, MPH RD; March 2007
- WebMD; Good Protein; September 2009
- Cleveland Clinic: Heart and Vascular Health & Prevention
- United States Department of Agriculture My Plate; Food Groups; June 2011
- Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images