To mark National School Breakfast Week, Julia Walker, RD, is here to share the importance of that first meal of the day, as well as a handful of suggestions for the best start possible.
There’s no arguing with the fact that kids benefit from starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Research shows that kids who eat breakfast regularly tend to be more alert in school, and, therefore, are able to learn better. They are also less likely to be overweight than kids who skip breakfast regularly. However, even with hard evidence showing the substantial advantages to eating a morning meal, between 42 and 59 percent of American children do not eat breakfast every day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics report, "The State of Family Nutrition and Physical Activity: Are We Making Progress?".
Many schools throughout the country participate in the USDA's School Breakfast Program, a program modeled after the National School Lunch Program to provide nutritious breakfasts to students. Participating schools must provide one-fourth of a child's daily need for protein, calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, and calories. The types of food that are offered vary somewhat, but children can expect a dairy choice such as low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt; 100-percent juice or fruit and/or vegetable; a grain- or whole grain-based product such as cereal, toast or waffles; and sometimes hot options such as eggs or some other meat/meat alternate (preferably turkey sausage or low fat cheese).
If your child doesn’t eat at breakfast at school, don’t worry. There are plenty of easy ways you can ensure they are still getting an adequate amount of nutrition before they head out the door.
Oat Banana Breakfast Cookies
What kid doesn't want cookies for breakfast? These cookies combine high fiber and fruit for a perfect, portable kick start to the day.
¼ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups rolled oats (gluten-free, if needed)
1 tablespoon golden flaxmeal
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place bananas in a medium bowl and mash well. Add remaining ingredients to mashed banana; stir well.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Press 2 tablespoons mixture into a 2 ½-inch cookie cutter. Remove cutter to create a round shape. Repeat with remaining mixture.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes or until cookies are golden and set. Allow to cool before serving.
(Serving size: 1 cookie - Calories: 112, Total Fat: 6g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 0g; Sodium: 84mg; Total Carbohydrate: 15g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Protein: 2g; Potassium 147mg; Phosphorus 59mg.)
More easy breakfast ideas that give your student energy
- Make instant oatmeal with low fat milk instead of water. Toss in raisins or dried cranberries and chopped walnuts
- Layer low fat plain yogurt with your favorite crunchy cereal and blueberries.
- Blend a breakfast smoothie with low fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
- Spread a flour tortilla with peanut butter. Add a whole banana and roll it up.
- Add lean ham and low fat Swiss cheese to a toasted whole grain English muffin.