My 4-year old daughter loves her sugary cereal. She clamors for it day and night and I often relent. The ritual for her favorite cereal is to eat all the marshmallows first, meticulously mining for each orange, green, blue and purple nugget before ever taking a bite of the actual cereal. For her, they’re magically delicious. Unfortunately, they’re not magically nutritious.
I’m beginning to feel a little guilt-ridden. Aren't there healthier things I could feed my kids? Things they would still enjoy, yet convenient to serve? Of course there are. Below are five simple, nutritious ways to start your kid’s day.
1. Peanut Butter (for those without allergies)
Why they’ll love it: What screams kids’ food more than peanut butter? Spread on a bagel, English muffin, or whole-wheat toast. Another great alternative is to add bananas or have your kids dip with sliced apples.
Why you’ll love it: Often miscast as a member of the junk food and dessert family, peanut butter has solid nutritional value. For one, it’s a great source of protein. In fact, it was invented in 1890 as a meat protein substitute. It also contains potassium, fiber, antioxidants, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
Why they’ll love it: Another convenient breakfast food that satisfies the kids’ sweet tooth, while also providing a nutritional punch. Top with fruit (blueberries, anyone?) and granola for some healthy texture.
Why you’ll love it: Rich in calcium and protein, yogurt is widely touted for its probiotics. Probiotics regulate the digestive system and will keep your kids regular.
Why they’ll love it: Plain oatmeal … blah. But put some fixings on it and your kids might actually enjoy it. Add milk, granola, brown sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon. Or let the kids take control by adding what they want, whether it’s their favorite fruit or even some chocolate chips.
Why you’ll love it: There’re tons of health benefits, but maybe the best thing for the youngsters is the fiber. Research shows that children who eat oatmeal regularly have a lower risk for obesity. Beta-glucan, a water-soluble fiber in oatmeal, reduces blood sugar spikes and boosts the immune system. Though oatmeal isn’t entirely gluten-free, studies show that kids (and adults) who have celiac disease can still eat oatmeal since it contains just a small amount of gluten.
4. Fruit Smoothie
Why they’ll love it: If your kids enjoy milk, yogurt, and fruits then what’s better than blending them all together?
Why you’ll love it: This is a great one if you’re on the go and the kids need to eat breakfast in the car. It’s chock-full of calcium, protein, vitamins and probiotics. If it’s OK for your kids to eat wheat germ, then add a tablespoon or two for iron, vitamin E, folic acid, thiamin and some added protein. Click here for some recipes.
5. Eggs in a hole
Why they’ll love it: Kids are often eager to help in the kitchen. This is a playful breakfast food that lets kids get involved, with a cookie cutter no less. Check out the simple cooking steps here.
Why you’ll love it: I’m always worried about my kids’ protein intake. Eggs to the rescue. If you’re concerned about cholesterol, remove the yolk and use egg whites.
What’s on your menu?
Kids can be picky eaters and they won’t like everything you put in front of them, but it's good to test it out. What are your favorite healthy breakfast foods to feed your kids?
Update: My daughter will now actually eat breakfast foods that don’t have marshmallows in them. But I’ll still give my princess her favorite cereal in the whole-wide-world....every now and then.