As the saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, in the rush to get everyone out the door in the morning, it’s not always easy to provide kids with a healthy and nutritious meal that will set them up for the day.
The Benefits of Breakfast
Breakfast means “breaking the fast” and with kids it could be up to 10 hours since they ate their last meal. When children wake up, the blood sugar (glucose) that their body needs to make their muscles and brain work their best is usually low. Breakfast helps replenish it. Studies have shown that there are many benefits to encouraging your child to eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast every day. These include:
Refuelling your kids in the morning helps increase their concentration level and improves their ability to learn. After eating they will feel bright and alert, rather than tired, hungry and restless.
It helps them to maintain a healthy weight and decreases the likelihood of childhood obesity as they are less likely to crave junk food or overeat.
A balanced morning meal provides essential vitamins and nutrients. If a child skips breakfast, they are less likely to get all the nutrients their bodies need for their growth and development.
While all parents want to give their child the best possible start to the day, the reality is that busy parents are juggling so many balls that it can be challenging to provide children with a nutritious breakfast every day. And that assumes your child won’t reject the meal you’ve worked so hard to prepare and insist on sugary cereals instead!
Avoid fruit juice as it contains lots of sugar, instead opt for fresh fruit or fruit infused water.
To help Cayman parents out, we’ve come up with some easy ways to provide your child with a quick and nutritious breakfast that will help fuel active muscles and busy brains.
Ideally children need a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fats every morning, which will keep them going until their next meal and give them plenty of energy to run around and play sports. Here are some top tips to help give yourself the best chance of making a healthy breakfast a reality:
Stock your kitchen with good breakfast options, such as healthy cereals, eggs, fresh fruit and wholemeal bread.
Prepare as much as you can the night before (get dishes and cutlery ready and cut up fruit).
Get everyone up 10 minutes earlier.
Let kids help plan and prepare breakfast and store your healthy cereal in easily accessible containers so your child can help themselves.
Have grab-and-go alternatives including fresh fruit, plain yoghurt cups and pre-made frozen muffins, for days when there is little or no time to eat.
Quick & Healthy Breakfast Options
Cereals are the go-to option for many parents as they are affordable, quick and stress-free, however, many cereals marketed at children are low in fibre and high in sugar. Avoid those and go for healthier options that are readily available in Cayman’s supermarkets.
We recommend studying the nutrition labels because although a cereal is branded as ‘natural’, ‘healthy’, ‘sugar-free’, ‘reduced fat’ or ‘cholesterol free’, it does not mean the product is good for children. The healthiest cereals have the shortest ingredient lists with recognisable names. They will also include whole grains, plus at least three grams of fibre and protein and less than five grams of sugar per serving.
You can increase the nutritional value of cereals by adding a dollop of Greek yoghurt, a spoonful of nut butter, sliced fruit such as bananas, strawberries or blueberries and a spoonful of ground flaxseeds, chia or pumpkin seeds.
Lead by example. Let your kids see you making time to enjoy breakfast every day and show them how important it is to face the day only after refuelling your brain and body with a healthy morning meal.
When it comes to serving cereals – variety is key. Try not to give the same breakfast every day as this could lead to picky eating. Here are some good options for cereals that can be bought at Foster’s, Kirk Market and Priced Right.
Cheerios: Made with whole grain oats, contain three grams of fibre and are fortified with B-vitamins and iron.
Nature’s Paths Organic Heritage Flakes: Full of whole grains, including wheat, quinoa, spelt, barley, millet, and oats, as well as five grams of protein and seven grams of fibre.
Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs: A sugar-free cereal with plenty of fibre and protein.
Shredded Wheat: A classic breakfast cereal with 100% whole grain that is low in sodium and added sugar.
Instant or Steel-Cut Porridge: Supplies vital nutrients, fibre and provides slow-release energy throughout the day.
Weetabix: A family favourite that is high in protein and fibre while low in sugar and fat.
Another convenient breakfast option that's quick and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. The type of bread you offer and what you decide to put on the toast, however, makes a huge difference nutritionally.
In the Cayman Islands, many bread options lack nutritional content and contain added sugar. Although more expensive, bread produced in the UK, such as Robert’s, which can be found in the frozen sections of Kirk Market and Foster’s, has no added sugar and is low on salt. Go for the wholemeal or whole grain options which contain a lot more fibre than white bread. Other nutritious bread options available in Cayman include sourdough bread, pumpernickel and Ezekiel.
The possibilities for toast toppings are endless and kids will love experimenting with different options. Be careful not to slather toast in butter – a scrape of unsalted butter will do. Stick to healthy options during the week and save any treats for the weekend. Good healthy choices include:
Mashed avocado: Full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
Nut butter with sliced banana and blueberries on top: Provides healthy fats with protein and fibre that will keep your child full for longer.
Mashed hard-boiled egg: A great source of protein, fat, and other nutrients. Serve with some sliced oranges.
Plain yoghurt and mashed fruit: Packed with calcium, protein and vitamins.
These are a great option for breakfast in a rush. Smoothies taste great and are loaded with nutrition from the fruits and vegetables. Keep the freezer stocked with plenty of frozen fruit so you have a variety of options at your fingertips. Remember to leave the skin of the fruit on when blending as this is where most of the fibre is stored. You can up the nutritional value by adding a spoonful of ground flaxseed, chia seed and pumpkin seeds.
Here are some good smoothie options that are packed full with healthy ingredients:
Oatmeal Smoothie: A banana, 1/2 a cup of oats, a handful of spinach, a teaspoon of nut butter, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and a cup of milk or almond milk.
Super Berry Smoothie: 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 banana, ½ cup of Greek yoghurt, ½ a cup of coconut milk.
Avocado Smoothie: ½ a ripe pear, 1 banana, 1 ⁄3 ripe avocado, 2 dates, 1 cup of milk.
Plan Ahead Breakfast Recipes
While the following recipes call for more ingredients and prep time, a little bit of planning and preparation can make a healthy breakfast a breeze on chaotic mornings!
Packed with fibre and other good stuff, overnight oats are surprisingly simple to make and will ensure you always have something quick to feed children on busy mornings.
Apple Cinnamon Oat Muffins
These wholesome muffins are delicious and full of goodness. You can even freeze them so you always have extras on hand for breakfast on the go.
Healthy Protein Pancakes
These sugar-free pancakes are healthy and packed full of protein and fibre. They are suitable for freezing too.