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6 Make-Ahead Healthy Breakfasts to Start the School Day Right

Saturday, September 05, 2015


School starts today in Portland, and soon all the kids in the greater Portland area will be back in class to learn, to play, to grow. It is crucial that your kids gets every chance they can to have a successful school year, and a lot of that starts at home. It starts with your involvement in their day, reading with them, checking up on school work and social issues. It also starts with the food they get to power them through the day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day — especially for school-aged kids. 

Even though some recent waves have been made suggesting that breakfast may not be important (*caution is advised with this research, because most of these articles point out that if you were to decide between a typical American breakfast, meaning donut, coffee, bagel, etc and nothing, that eating nothing may be preferable), it is extremely important for your school aged kid. This is due in part to the fact that they are growing quickly and need a steady stream of calories, but also due to the fact that they are in learning mode. 

Your brain is a very hungry hippo. Even though it accounts for only 2% of your body weight, “it demands 20% of your resting metabolic rate.” Add to that the reality that most school-aged children do not get the chance to eat again until lunchtime, you see that breakfast is their only chance to consume the calories their brains and bodies need until midday.

People have been doing studies for years analyzing kids’ school performance and how it correlates to whether or not they eat breakfast. The resounding results are that kids who eat breakfast consistently outperform the non-breakfast eaters in memory, understanding new information, spacial arrangement, math and verbal ability. 

Newer research is also showing that kids who consume high glycemic foods (sugary foods with little fiber and/or protein, aka simple carbs) for breakfast perform significantly worse on academic tasks than do kids who eat complex carbohydrates at breakfast. They also found that kids who eat sugary breakfasts have a blood sugar crash that can lead to disruptive emotional behavior in the classroom. This means that it is not only important for your children to eat breakfast, but it is important that they eat the right breakfast. 

You have a choice to make this school year: you can either give your kids good solid foundational breakfasts that will keep them from getting hungry and that sustain their brains through the morning, or you can fill them up with junk and wonder why the teacher is constantly saying that they are disruptive. I’m not going to sugar coat this (pun intended). The food you serve your children is by and large not serving them. It is setting them up for all kinds of health problems down the road, and it is making learning more difficult. 

Here are some healthy, simple, make-ahead options that will power your kids through the morning:

Mini Quiche Muffins 
These little bites of deliciousness are simple to make ahead, and there is no shortage to the combinations you can use. You can store them in the fridge in a Ziploc bag, and either reheat them or eat them cold in the morning. They are even easy to eat on the go.

Baked Oatmeal 
A favorite of mine, this is so delicious on a cold rainy morning. The best thing about it is that you can make a big baking dish of it on Sunday, and eat off of it all week. The combinations are up to you — bananas, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, coconut milk. This breakfast can easily be made vegan, and if you want you can make a savory version. You can eat it hot or cold, and depending on the consistency, you can bake it into little oatmeal muffins.

Veggie and Sausage Bake 
That’s right — serve dinner leftovers for breakfast. It’s easy, all it takes is a reheat, and it is usually full of veggies and protein. Any leftover will do, this one is just a favorite at our house.

Breakfast Burritos 
Who doesn’t love these??? You can put anything you want in them: meat, no meat, peppers, cheese, potatoes, veggie sausage, whatever you like! I prefer to make the filling ahead and then just reheating and putting it in the tortilla shells in the morning.

Protein Packed Chocolate Smoothie 
Smoothies are a super-easy way to get kids to eat their veggies, get protein, and to sneak in all kinds of goodness. You can easily google all kinds of smoothie recipes, just be aware that the majority of them aren’t actually that good for you. They tend to be very high in sugar and low in nutrients. Starting with a base of protein-packed organic whole milk yogurt, a frozen bananan (for a smooth creamy texture), and adding any other things your kids will like can get you started. Veggies that are easy to add without making them taste funky include butternut squash or sweet potato (use frozen bagged veggies for ease), spinach or kale, zucchini. Add almond meal, flax meal, nut butters, tofu or chia seeds for extra protein and fiber.

Healthy breakfasts do not have to be difficult, time consuming endeavors. You can even just boil up a box of eggs at the beginning of the week so your kids can eat hard boiled eggs, toast with nut butter and a piece of fruit for a great breakfast. Think outside the box. Think about food that can easily be made ahead of time in a big batch so that mornings aren’t any crazier than they need to be. Whatever you do, don’t skip this most important meal.

Erin Brockmeyer, LAc, is owner and acupuncturist at Solstice Natural Health in downtown Portland.  She creates custom health plans for patients to help them tackle their most complicated health concerns, including infertility, prenatal care, fibromyalgia, thyroid conditions and chronic and acute pain conditions.  Visit her website for more information and to download her free e-book, "5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Health Today."


Related Slideshow: Top 5 Backpacking Foods You Never Knew You Needed

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5. Wakame Seaweed

With only a bit of water, a few grams of dried seaweed blossoms into a nutrient-rich forest. Vegan, gluten free, rich in calcium, iron and folate, and it only weighs in at 1.6 oz per half cup. Throw a tablespoon of wakame into ramen noodle soups. Wakame seaweed can also be soaked in room temperature water for a refreshing salad. Add a package of tuna and some almonds from your trail mix for a satisfying lunch. 

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4. Salami

Although relatively heavy, salami is worth packing along for its versatility.  Salami can be cubed and fried in pasta or rice dishes, sliced thinly for sandwiches, or just chomp a hunk off with your teeth while beating your chest savagely. Unlike fresh deli meats or even Spam, it can last for days unrefrigerated. 

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3. Crystallized Eggs

Forget the powdered variety, which when mixed with water omits a vague odor similar to cat pee. Thanks to food scientists, we can now purchase crystallized eggs to stir into soups, boiled with instant rice, or turned into scrambled eggs for a protein rich breakfast. Go for the ‘Ova Easy’ brand. At $54.99 for a 2.25 lb can it is not cheap, but the can lasts for 5 years on the shelf and the superior taste is worth it. 

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2. Spice Wheel

A must for elevating bland, high-carb backpacking foods. Personalize by choosing which spices you want in the wheel’s 6-8 compartments. After your fourth meal of pasta, you’ll be thankful you can choose curry or cumin to keep your tongue happy. Spice wheels are widely available for less than four bucks and make great gifts for your outdoorsy friends and family. 

Photo credit: camperpartsworld.com

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A Plastic Mug With a Lid

Okay, okay, so it’s not a food, but one lidded cup replaces a bowl, plate and drinking cup while on the trail. Cups can store your coffee and tea in the morning and your apricot cashew couscous in the evening. Purchase ones with screw-on lids double as tupperware for transporting leftovers. Some brands are clear plastic with measurements on the side for easy camp cooking. We love GSI Outdoors ‘Fairshare’ Mug, starting at $8.75 each. 

Photo: GSI Outdoors Fairshare Mug via rei.com 


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