You probably know that people who eat breakfast generally weigh less and have a lower Body Mass Index than people who don’t eat breakfast. Maybe you’ve learned from personal experience that when you skip breakfast, you have low blood sugar later in the morning and can be more easily tempted by junk food. Or that you are ravenous by lunchtime and tend to overeat. And it likely makes sense to you that children who skip breakfast more often have behavioral and learning problems at school. There are even more reasons I can offer to reinforce the importance of eating breakfast, but I would probably be preaching to the choir. So instead, let’s focus on how to build a better breakfast.
Personally, I get excited to wake up in the morning and eat something delicious. But not only should my breakfast taste good, I want it to help me focus and feel energized until lunchtime. Ideally, my breakfast won’t trigger sugar cravings and more importantly it will keep my blood sugar stable throughout the morning. This is even more important when I consider what to put in my kids’ breakfasts. Here’s how:
- Protein — everyone needs a certain amount of protein over the course of a day, but it’s essential that breakfast (as well as lunch) contains some form of protein. Protein stimulates the brain to help us feel alert. It is also takes a long time to digest, makes us feel full, and helps keep blood sugar levels stable, which is especially key for kids in school. Protein does not just come in the form of animal protein. Other high quality sources are organic, free-range eggs, nuts ( we love almonds, walnuts and pecans), seeds (e.g. hemp, sunflower, pumpkin), dairy (if you can tolerate it ; try sheep and goat yogurts or raw unpasteurized cow dairy), legumes and quinoa.
- Complex (High Fiber) Carbohydrates — Not all carbs are created equal. Complex carbs partnered with fiber and/or protein release energy into the bloodstream at a slow, steady rate and make us feel more satisfied throughout the morning. Look for WHOLE grains such as steel cut oats, millet, quinoa, brown rice, farro and barley. I am not a big fan of processed grains, such as cold, boxed breakfast cereals, instant oats or foods made with refined flours which your body turns into sugar really fast.
- High Quality Fats — the brain is 60% fat and needs high quality fats to perform better. Fats also help you feeling satisfied and full for longer. Avocado, nuts and seeds, organic butter from grass-fed cows, whole eggs and whole dairy are all good sources.
- Savory vs. Sweet — if you suffer from sugar cravings, starting your day with a savory meal can really help stave off the desire for sweets. I find that if I start the day with pancakes and syrup or a fruit smoothie, I keep looking for sweet foods all day long. The opposite is true when I start the day with something savory like eggs or soup.
I definitely think outside the box when it comes to breakfast. We’re so accustomed to thinking we can only eat “breakfast” foods in the morning, but who says you can’t give your child a turkey sandwich on wheat or a chicken leg from last night’s dinner? They sure beat sugared breakfast cereals! The key here is balance and listening to your body’s cues to what feels right for you. I love starting the day with a cup of warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice. Some people find their digestion is better off eating fruit on an empty stomach and then waiting an hour to eat something more substantial. I prefer to have some fruit in the late afternoon, but my kids eat fresh fruit at the same time as their breakfast. Here are a few of our favorite breakfasts:
Eggs — scrambled, hard-boiled, frittatas with leftover vegetables, Joe’s special (eggs scrambled with grass-fed ground beef, spinach and onions) with or without a side of whole grain toast.
Yogurt Parfait — whole yogurt layered with granola and fruit or a mix of nuts, fruit and coconut
Whole Grain Pancakes served with or without a side of nitrate-free turkey bacon or chopped nuts
Quinoa Porridge — made with raw milk or almond milk, fresh fruit
Steel Cut Oatmeal — check back on Friday for a recipe for overnight oatmeal and a few of our favorite topping ideas; finished with raw milk, almond milk or hemp milk
Whole Grain French Toast made with eggs
Yogurt or Kefir Smoothies
Whole Grain or Sprouted Toast with Almond Butter and Sliced Bananas
Soup (my favorite breakfast) — provided there is some protein, such as beans or lentils
Roasted Sweet Potato with Whole Yogurt
Toasted Millet Bread with Sliced Smoked Wild Salmon and Avocado
Leftovers from Dinner – also a favorite — anything from fried rice to risotto to tacos
Do you have trouble getting the kids to eat breakfast in the morning? What are some of your favorite breakfast foods??
We make our steel-cut-oatmeal using an overnight method. Boiling about 6cups water w/1 1/2 steel cut oatmeal. Boil 10 minutes turn off the stove and let it stand covered overnight.
I also portion it out into muffin tins and freeze and put into ziplock bags.
It’s the best way, isn’t it? That’s the method I’m planning to share on Friday. YOu’ll have to chime in with your favorite toppings!
I also love the overnight method with the steel cut oats! My acupuncturist gave me the idea years ago and I have been making it for my kids since they were able to eat solids. I know.. maybe a little boring but at least I know that they are going to have one healthy meal per day no matter what.
I do 2 cups organic steel cut oats, 1/4 cup organic goji berries, 1/4 cup organic raisins, 2-3 tablespoons freshly ground org. flax seed and add about 7 cups of boiling water and cover.. then the next day I heat it up for about 10 minutes. This lasts a few days usually.
Individually I add a bit of org. almond butter (artisana is amazing), org. cinnamon, org. coconut butter (also artisana) and raw milk. Also, I swear this breakfast is one of the reasons my kids never get sick!
Positively amazing. You’ve got it all in there. I just finished doing my oats for tomorrow morning and I’m going to try your combo. I love Artisana, too. Can’t wait for breakfast!! Thank you, Julie!
Do you make quinoa porridge the same way as making regular quinoa and then adding almond milk after it’s cooked or would you cook it in almond milk instead of water? Thanks – I’d really like to try this!
Karen, I make the quinoa the same as usual, but I sub almond milk for water. When it’s done I sometimes add another splash of almond milk. Then I put it in a bowl and add berries and almonds or chopped dates and pecans. I was on a kick recently where I added unsweetened raw cacao nibs, flaked coconut, goji berries and walnuts — insanely delicious!
Every Sunday night while cooking dinner I prepare McCann’s Steel cut oats on the stove and divide it up into covered glass dishes of 5 portions (per person at home). While warm; stir in tsp of chunky almond butter, squirt of agave, huge dash of cinnamon. I refrigerate these and each day on the way out to work I add a cut-up whole apple and nonsweet vanilla almond milk. At work I micro/stir and eat slowly all morning at my desk; I am never tempted by the donuts etc and I last until I eat my pre-made(for the week)salad with grilled chicken for lunch! Boring; but so filling and lets me cheat/enjoy at other meals. Green smoothies for afternoon snack when getting home hungry from work. Your great recipes for dinner and I have been the same healthy weight for many years! Only drink water and black coffee/tea and then have treat of red wine etc on weekends. Walk 10,oooo a day and it is easy!
WOW, Barbara! That is so inspiring and so doable at the same time. Thank you for that! By the way, I don’t ever think yumminess is boring!
Can you please share your recipe for the pre made salad for the week? Thanks!
I have always felt that we have done a great job with breakfasts in my house. I always try to get the kids protein so they stay full, and I have never understood people who say they can’t eat breakfast! I wouldn’t make it.
Despite thinking we have been good, since beginning your classes, I have even upped the health a bit. We now do Steel Cut Oats most Mondays (as opposed to instant oatmeal), “Yogurt Bar” on Tuesdays…replacing small yogurts with plain yogurt that the kids can add fruit or maple syrup, granola, nuts, etc. to. Wednesdays, I always make your Oatmeal Pancakes. Thursday is eggs. I feel like we have done a great job getting rid of most processed foods at breakfast…although my 4 year old still LOVES Raisin Toast so that makes an appearance most days (except on pancake days) to go with whatever else we are serving. Thanks for helping us up the quality of what we choose to eat.
I think it’s brilliant to have a breakfast schedule like you do. It takes so much of the guesswork out of it! Thank you for chiming in. 🙂