As more parents look for healthy natural foods that don’t break the bank, children clamor for tasty options.
It can be challenging to change family eating habits to include healthier foods. Likewise, “whatever works” has become the rallying cry for many parents. However, there are great options for nutritious “go-to” foods that fit comfortably into the family budget and sate children’s palates.
When changing your family’s eating habits, start at the beginning. Studies show that eating breakfast can lead to higher test scores, greater alertness in school and even a healthier body weight. Also, regular breakfast eaters have higher nutrient intakes and lower-fat diets than people who skip this important meal.
But the reality is that many children, especially preteens and teens, skip breakfast altogether or make poor choices like eating highly processed, sugary cereals and pastries. Entice kids back to the breakfast table with these simple tips and tasty good-for-them options.
For Kids of Any Age
- Try the original quick fix. All it takes is a bowl, a spoon and a box of ready-to-eat cereal— the meal choice of 31 percent of Americans who eat breakfast. Purchasing breakfast cereals that contain no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial preservatives, colors, flavors or hydrogenated oil can move your family members just a bit closer to the better eating habits they should aim to achieve.
For Children Ages 3-12
- Heat things up. There’s nothing like a bowl of stick-to-your-ribs oatmeal, even more so on a chilly morning. Add-ins like fruit or a drizzle of honey are a fun way for kids to enhance this healthy breakfast choice with flavor. Or, try Mom’s Power Breakfast (recipe follows) to make quick hot breakfasts that children love.
- Encourage kids to eat with their eyes. We are all visual creatures. Imagine a pretty glass filled with layers of fruit-flavored yogurt, sliced strawberries or blueberries and crunchy cereal. Such parfaits are a cinch to prepare and a festive way to start the day.
For Kids Ages 12-18
- Grab and Go. Talk about portable! Apples, bananas and grapes are some of the easiest and healthiest grab-and-go foods for busy families, so keep plenty of these fresh fruits on hand. Other smart grab-and-go options include low-fat cheese sticks, whole-wheat bagels with peanut butter and Grab-and-Go Breakfast Bars (recipe follows).
- Think outside the box. When most people hear the word “muffin,” they think, “healthy.” However, most store-bought muffins are as unhealthy as doughnuts. The original recipe for the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins that follows called for two sticks of butter. Without changing the flavor too dramatically, we came up with a recipe for what a muffin should be!
Family members can set themselves up for a successful day by starting with a healthy, great tasting and easy-to-prepare breakfast. This habit helps everyone to perform at his or her best— whether it’s at school or the office. With just a touch of advance planning, and a dash of creativity, families can adapt other recipes to augment healthful habits and lead to a lifetime of good eating.
Mom’s Power Breakfast
Makes 1 Serving
¼ cup Mom’s Best Naturals Quick Oats
1 tsp. ground flaxseed
½ cup 1% low-fat milk
¼ cup blueberries
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
1 to 2 Tbsp. chopped nuts, optional
Combine the oats, ground flaxseed and milk in a large microwave-safe bowl and stir to combine. Place in the microwave, uncovered, and heat on high for 90 seconds. Remove carefully and stir in the blueberries, maple syrup and nuts, if desired.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: 180 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated, 0.5g omega-3), 65mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 8g protein, 15% calcium.
Grab-and-Go Breakfast Bars
Makes 16 Bars
1 cup Mom’s Best Naturals Quick Oats
1 cup Mom’s Best Naturals Toasted
1 cup walnuts
1½ cups dried fruit, such as a combination of dried apricots, plums and cranberries
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup honey
2 large omega-3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat an 8-x-8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Place the oats, Wheat-fuls, walnuts, dried fruit, cinnamon and salt in a food processor, and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped (the dried fruit should be the size of dried peas or lentils). In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey and vanilla. Add the oatmeal mixture and chocolate chips, and stir to combine. Transfer to the baking pan, and flatten down with the back of a spoon or spatula to spread evenly. Bake about 18 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown and the bars are done. Let bars cool completely in pan before slicing and serving.
Tip: These bars freeze really well. If you have leftovers, wrap individual portions in plastic bags or aluminum foil, and freeze.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: 150 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated, 0.7g omega-3), 85mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein.
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
¼ cup wheat germ
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 bananas, mashed
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Combine the bananas, eggs, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl and stir until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until the muffins are light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for five minutes. Remove the muffins and cool an additional five minutes before serving. To make 24 mini muffins, bake about 14 minutes.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: 220 calories, 10g fat, 2g saturated fat, 140mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein.