Back to School & Breakfast Basics
Time always seems to speed by too quickly at end of the summer. We try to squeeze in every last minute of fun with the kids. Beach days body surfing and building sand castles, outdoor adventures including hiking or tree climbing, and making s'mores in the backyard over a fire pit. We want to enjoy the feel of sun-kissed cheeks and see the huge smiles on our exhausted kids' faces as they tip into bed with still slightly sandy toes. These are memories we want to ensure last.
Then, comes the craziness of back-to-school shopping, packing backpacks, making lunches. picking out the perfect outfit for the first day, and rushing to the bus. If you know this feeling, then I hope you can commiserate and will excuse my hiatus for the last month.
But, I'm back now and ready to share with you again. So, let's start with the basics.
The first battle to contend with every morning, that is after getting everyone out of bed, is what to feed the family for breakfast. I want (after my coffee) breakfast to be healthy, yet delicious (so we don't need to argue about eating), fairly quick, and not require too much clean up. I try to have some options, so the kids feel like they have some input, but I make sure that the meal will be enough to sustain them with enough energy to make it to lunch- and while sugary cereal may be easy, it is not a great way to start the day.
Our breakfasts always consist of the following categories: a starch or grain, a protein, a fruit or vegetable and a drink (water, milk, coconut milk, smoothie, etc)- though the categories can overlap. This consistency makes my life a bit easier, since there is no arguing- the kids know what to expect and have the power to pick what they want within those confines. Kids love this independence.
Some of our breakfast favorites include:
- toasted bagel with fresh ground peanut butter and a fruit smoothie
- oatmeal with berries and a glass of milk
- granola including nuts and flax seeds, a clementine and a glass of coconut milk
- home-baked hazelnut scone with fresh fruit compote and a glass of water
- make-your-own yogurt parfait and a cup of herbal tea
- soft boiled egg, whole grain toast and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice
If this seems intimidating, it isn't that hard, I promise. Some of the tricks or short cuts I use are simple and pretty logical. First off, I buy nuts, seeds, dried fruit and wheat grass powder in bulk at Whole Foods. I keep them in separate containers and they can easily be brought out for simple add-ins or to make trail mix, a great snack. Kids feel empowered when they can mix up their own oatmeal, granola, parfaits, etc and that means they are more likely to eat them. You control the options that they are choosing from, so you know that they are getting a well balanced meal. Also, if you buy a variety the family doesn't get bored- nothing tastes good when it is boring- and can be used for lots of different things.
When it comes to making smoothies, it doesn't have to be hard- just have a good blender on hand. I purchase a wide variety of frozen berries so that we can change it up a little every time and kids can have some input. I often ask "which 3 berries do you want in your smoothie..." Frozen berries are obviously easier to have on hand, but they are also much more cost efficient and work beautifully in smoothies. You can also sneak in some pretty healthy ingredients that you have left over in the fridge into a smoothie without anyone knowing :)
Our favorite quick and easy smoothie includes:
- frozen strawberries
- frozen raspberries
- frozen cherries
- frozen blueberries
- coconut milk
- 1 T wheat grass powder
- 1 T protein powder
- 8 spinach leaves
- splash of orange juice
Adjust the liquids based on how thick you want the smoothie- the more coconut milk you add the creamier it will be, the more orange juice the tarter it will taste. Quantities of each ingredient will vary based on what you have on hand, and number of smoothies you are making. Other great ingredients include bananas (though these add thickness), kiwis, melon, pineapple, kale, or any other fruit of veggie your family loves. Have some fun with it- experiment.
Whatever it is that you decide to do, the most important thing is that breakfast is healthy, filling, and a fun way to start the day. Breakfast shouldn't require tons of prep or clean up work for you, either- it is your start of the day too.