Jumpstart Your Family's Day with Breakfast

Make smart nutrition choices in the morning your key to classroom and workplace success
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A nutritious breakfast is vital to a child's growth and development

The first meal of the day gets the body’s metabolism in gear, provides mental and physical fuel, and stimulates classroom learning, participation, and concentration—or mental agility and physical stamina at work if you’re an adult. “You’ve been fasting overnight, so having breakfast replenishes the body’s energy stores and gets you ready to face the day,” says Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, registered dietitian and former spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Take the first meal of the day seriously

Got kids? Set a good example and eat breakfast together. Studies prove that a nutritious breakfast is vital to a child’s growth and development. Along with contributing to overall good physical and mental health, and enhancing children’s brain power, breakfast also:

  • Provides 25% of a child or adult’s daily essential nutrients; if missed in the morning, they’re unlikely to be made up during the day.
  • Provides carbohydrate, protein, and fat, all necessary to sustain energy levels.
  • Helps with weight management by preventing excessive hunger that can lead to overeating or reaching for high-calorie snacks later in the day.

Begin the day with a balanced menu

There are a zillion terrific ideas out there for nutritious breakfasts. Simply balance the choices, selecting: (1) whole grains in hot or cold cereals and breads fortified with minerals and vitamins, (2) fruit to supply fiber and more vitamins, and (3) protein found in dairy products, meats, eggs, and egg substitutes. Redefine traditional breakfast dishes to satisfy your family’s tastes. Encourage kids to help make breakfast, too.

  • Prepare baked apples by coring Granny Smith apples or any tart apple; fill hollowed-out center with raisins, brown sugar, and chopped walnuts; bake at 350°F (177°C) for 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, one apple per person.
  • Make cinnamon-apple wraps by spreading unsweetened applesauce over flour tortillas; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then shredded cheddar cheese; roll up and heat in the microwave.
  • Rev up the blender and whirl together low-fat yogurt and fruit for a drink-and-go smoothie; check out Banana Berry Nog and Tropical Fruit Smoothie for inspiration.
  • Mix together several dry cereals to create a personal combination, or make Granola on the Go.
  • On mornings that aren’t a big rush, make a hearty egg dish or assemble and refrigerate frittata or omelette ingredients the night before. Pop in the oven when you get up so it’s ready to eat when you are.
  • Serve leftover burritos, lasagna, or stir-fried rice with veggies as nutritious nontraditional breakfast fare.
Judith H. Dern, an independent writer living in Seattle, WA, starts her day with a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts and drizzled with real maple syrup.