As the school holidays come to a close, many parents experience mixed feelings about getting back to the daily grind. On one hand, you’re eager to get back to routine…you’ve loved having the kids around more, but a bit of alone time is always welcome. On the other hand, the thought of setting the alarm early, preparing breakfast for the family, getting your kids to eat said breakfast, and actually getting them out the door before the school bell rings, can seem virtually impossible!
Offering a nutritionally balanced breakfast is highly beneficial to school-aged children. It has been shown in numerous studies that primary and secondary school-aged children who consume breakfast have improved academic performance, cognitive functions, and physical activity, compared to those who don’t eat breakfast. (1, 2)
Practically speaking, however, this is not always an easy task! Some children simply do not enjoy ‘traditional’ breakfast foods, some do not have a strong appetite in the morning, and in some families, a ‘sit-down’ breakfast is just simply not possible.
With this in mind, here are some fast, nutritious, tasty breakfast options to ensure that your children (and you!) get the best start to the day.
Overnight oats are great because you can prepare them on Sunday night, and they’ll keep in the fridge for up to five nights, meaning your week of breakfast prep is done with one easy recipe. Oats are a high protein and fibre grain, packed with many valuable vitamins and minerals. Adding in some fruits, vegetables (carrot, zucchini or sweet potato are all winners), nut butters, nuts or seeds will also boost the nutritional power of this jar of goodness. All you will need to prepare this is a jar, some oats, your preferred milk, and add-ins of your choice. For some great recipes and ideas for add-ins see this Cookie and Kate recipe or this Peanut Butter Overnight Oats recipe by Minimalist Baker.
Homemade Muesli Bars
Making your own muesli bars means you can customise them to suit your family preferences, whilst also making them healthier than many of the store-bought options out there. Nutrient-dense, high in fibre, and a good source of protein, muesli bars can be eaten on-the-run, and can also be stored in the fridge for up to five days. Add in some nuts, seeds and dried fruits to boost the healthy fats, fibre, omega 3s, vitamins and minerals. For some recipe inspiration see The Healthy Chef recipe or these five ingredient bars by Minimalist Baker.
Hard Boiled Eggs – Easy to prepare in advance and store in the fridge, eggs are nutritional powerhouses high in lean protein and many valuable vitamins and minerals. Slice up on a piece of sourdough, or eat whole with a side of veggie sticks or fruit, you can’t go wrong.
With the right ingredients, smoothies can offer a filling, nutritious and balanced breakfast. Building a smoothie that will satisfy your littlies should focus on incorporating some healthy fats, protein, and carbs. For some inspiration, try throwing one or more of the ingredients from each of these categories into your blender. Serve in a spill-proof smoothie cup and these could even be sipped in the car on the way to school on those really frantic mornings.
· Healthy fats - avocado, nut butters, nuts, seeds, and full-fat yoghurts, kefirs, milks.
· Proteins – nut butters, protein powders, seeds such as chia or hemp, oats, or natural yoghurt.
· Carbs – These will mainly be provided by the fruits and veggies you add to your smoothie. Bananas, berries, stone fruits, baby spinach, beetroot, zucchini, cucumber, or even cooked sweet potato can all work in smoothies.
- For a thicker smoothie, try using frozen fruit.
- Experiment with added spices and sweeteners to change up the flavour. Examples of these could be cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, maple syrup, or honey.
- Freeze any leftover smoothie in ice-cream moulds for some healthy, cooling treats.
1. Zipp A, Eissing G. Studies on the influence of breakfast on the mental performance of school children and adolescents. Journal of Public Health. 2019 Feb 6;27(1):103-10.
2. Masoomi H, Taheri M, Irandoust K, H’Mida C, Chtourou H. The relationship of breakfast and snack foods with cognitive and academic performance and physical activity levels of adolescent students. Biological Rhythm Research. 2020 Apr 2;51(3):481-8.
Clare Carrick is an accredited nutritionist whose special interests involve gut health, diet and its effect on mental health, early childhood nutrition, and the impact that diet during pregnancy can have on the health of the offspring. Clare studied a BHSc (nutrition & health promotion) at Deakin University, and completed an internship at the Food & Mood Centre, which specialises in nutritional psychiatry.
Although Clare enjoys getting deep in the science behind nutrition, she is also all about balance! Life is busy for her with two daughters under five and a growing nutrition business and, in all honesty, coffee is often her 1st thought when the alarm goes off in the morning! Whilst the abundance and diversity of the Mediterranean diet is definitely a favourite way of eating for Clare, perhaps her favourite part of it is the bit where she gets to sink into the couch at the end of a long day with a glass of red and know that the polyphenols are doing good things for her microbes.