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Importance of Breakfast for Kids
Children Definitely Need Proper Breakfast
Adults need a proper, healthy breakfast to get their day off to a great start. Children are growing, so they ought to need it even more urgently. And they do. Let's first look at why.
Children have an extremely important job to do. They have to grow up. They have to go to school and learn the skills that allow them to grow into happy, healthy and productive adults. That's a bigger job than any of us adults do.
It stands to reason that they need the right fuel to be able to do their job. As far as the physiological aspect is concerned, it's obvious that a growing body needs highest quality nutrients in the right proportions at the required time. If their young bodies don't get it, their growth will slow down; they'll be prone to illnesses and never be able to perform as well as they could at whatever they choose.
This is true not just for breakfast but also for the other meals throughout the day. Breakfast has a special importance, though.
Children have dinner early, normally at about 6pm. Breakfast is the first refueling opportunity their growing bodies are given after a break of 12 to 14 hours when they did run mostly on empty. It allows them to catch up and set the tone for the day.
Skipping breakfast, therefore, is simply not an option whatever the age of your child. It's not even an option for you. If they skip breakfast, their first proper meal would be at lunchtime. This means that they would be running on empty for 18 hours! You couldn't do it to your car, so why should you want to do it to your child?
There are some pretty hefty advantages of starting the day with a healthy breakfast as opposed to skipping it. Research has shown that a healthy breakfast eaten regularly first of all
- improves their mood and reduces irritability, and therefore
- improves their behaviour.
- It also reduces hyperactivity.
This naturally makes for happier children at school. At a more academic level, a proper breakfast helps our children learn better and with less effort because it helps improve
- attention span and concentration,
- their mental performance, their ability to solve problems, and
- their memory.
Getting started regularly on a healthy balanced meal in the morning has also shown to reduce
- absence, and
- visits to the school nurse.
All this will obviously help our children perform better at tests, make school a more pleasant, happier experience for them, and set them up for life with good eating and work habits. In my book, this is a pretty good return for making sure they have a properly balanced breakfast every morning.
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Breakfast can either make or break the day, so for our kids to function well at school and to prevent disturbances brought by lack of energy and empty stomach we should promote the importance of eating breakfast to our kids.
Healthy Breakfast Tips
What Is A Healthy Breakfast?
A healthy breakfast, for our children and for us, does not have to be anything extraordinary. It's simply a nutritionally balanced start of the day:
- Make them drink a glass of water as soon as they get up, and then
- give them wholegrain (not just wholemeal) bread and butter,
- an egg,
- a glass of milk,
- some fruit or
- a glass of freshly pressed orange juice, or preferably both.
Or cook some porridge with a twist. This will provide with a nutritious, balanced breakfast and definitely help them keep them off snacking as both, the traditional breakfast and the porridge with a twist will provide them with the vitamins, minerals, protein and slow release carbohydrates they need.
Children who have such a start of their day will be well on their way to achieve 3 important goals:
1. Meeting Their Daily Nutritional Needs
It will provide them with significant amounts of important micro-nutrients as well as macro-nutrients: vitamins C and D, calcium, iron, fibre, carbohydrates, protein and fat. This is of great importance also for older children moving into puberty and adolescence. Their nutritional needs explode as they swap their children's bodies for adult ones.
2. Not Suffering From Overweight
Research among 9 to 12 year olds has shown that a breakfast with a low glycemic index (low GI) -- that is, wholegrain bread -- combined with protein keeps them satisfied much longer. Children eating a more standard breakfast that has a high GI (white bread / toast, sugary cereals, etc.), get hungry much more quickly, snack more frequently and have greater problems controlling their weight now and as adults.
3. Creating A Good Store Of Energy For The Day
This takes us back to the advantages that we've already seen of a healthy breakfast over skipping breakfast. These advantages are short term (for the day at school), medium term (helping them perform better and get better grades) and long term (creating good eating and work habits for life).
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Healthy Breakfast Recipes
- Banana-Bran Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins
2 large eggs
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 medium mashed ripe bananas
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
Whisk the brown sugar and the eggs in a bowl until smooth. Whisk in the bananas, wheat bran, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
In a separate bowl mix together the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture to it. Use a rubber spatula to combine the ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips, if using. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases until they are rather full and sprinkle with the walnuts, if using.
Bake for 15 to 25 minutes or until the tops are brown and they spring back when touched. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
- Southwestern Omelet Wrap
Folding a flat omelet in a whole-wheat wrapper is a delicious and fun high-protein breakfast. These wraps can be made the night before if you never seem to have the time to prepare a good breakfast in the morning. They can simply be placed in the microwave and away you go.
Makes 1 serving
1 large egg
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped spring onions
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)
2 tablespoons black bean dip
1 9-inch whole-wheat wrap
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon green or red salsa (optional)
Set your oven rack 6 inches from the heat source and preheat the broiler. With a fork, briskly mix the eggs, hot sauce and pepper together in a medium bowl. Stir in the spring onions and parsley.
Warm up the black bean dip in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds. Place the wrap between paper towels and heat in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds. Spread the bean sauce over the wrap, leaving a border of 1 inch.
Brush a 10-inch non-stick skillet with oil and place onto a medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook, lifting the edges with a spatula until the bottom is light brown in color. Place the skillet under the broiler until the top of the egg mixture is set. Once it is cooked, place the omelet onto the wrap. Sprinkle with cheese, fold the edges over the omelet on two sides and then roll the wrap around the omelet. Eat immediately with salsa.
- Baked Apple-Cinnamon French Toast
This healthy breakfast recipe can be prepared in advance and then simply placed in the oven for a delicious breakfast. The calories of this breakfast are decreased by using nonfat milk rather than whole milk and eliminating the egg yolks. The fat is also reduced by almost 80% with this griddle version.
Makes 12 servings
3 cups nonfat milk
2 cups pasteurized liquid egg whites
3 tablespoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
One 1 pound loaf sliced whole-wheat bread
1 cup chopped dried apples
1/2 cup raisins
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Whisk milk, egg whites, honey, salt and vanilla in a large bowl.
Trim the crust off the 8 slices of bread and set aside. Cut the crusts and the remaining bread into 1 inch pieces. In another large bowl place the apples, raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon and toss together.
Use cooking spray to coat a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Place the bread mixture into the pan and lay the reserves crust-less slices evenly on top. Pour the milk mixture over the bread and press the bread down with a wooden spoon to ensure that it is all evenly moist. Cover with parchment paper, then foil, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the casserole for 40 minutes covered, then uncover and continue baking for approximately 20 minutes more until it has puffed up and is lightly browned. Allow the dish to stand for 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.
- Citrus Berry Smoothie
This is a healthy breakfast in a glass and it is bursting with berries and orange juice. It is a healthy source of carbohydrates and powerful antioxidants.
Makes 1 smoothie
1 ¼ cups fresh berries
3/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the berries, yogurt, orange juice, dry milk, wheat germ, honey and vanilla in a blender and blend until smooth.
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Healthy Breakfast for Kids Video Link Resource
- Why is Eating a Healthy Breakfast Important
- Importance of Breakfast
- Cooking Healthy with Kids: Weight Controlled Breakfast
Healthy Breakfast for Kids Article Link Resource
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