How to Get Your Kids To Eat (And Even Enjoy) Breakfast

Starting the day with a nutrient-packed breakfast is one of the most tried-and-true ways to get (not to mention stay) healthy. This small, under-credited morning meal not only helps jump-start metabolisms and stabilize blood-sugar levels (which helps prevent overeating at lunchtime) but also ensures starting the day with the right mindset. In fact, eating breakfast can almost be likened to programming our internal computers to eat well throughout the entire day.

When it comes to kids, parents are better about understanding the importance of breakfast for sustained energy throughout the school day and even for after school activities. But like many parents, you might have trouble getting your children to eat a morning meal that’s actually good for them—especially if your kids have taken a recent trip down a cereal aisle or been exposed to TV commercials that tempt junior consumers with high-sugar or overly processed offerings in colorful packaging.

No sweat. Try these 5 kid-friendly ideas for healthy, nutrient-packed breakfasts that are simple to create and fun to eat.

Fast Food That's Good Food

Avoid long lines at the morning drive-thru by making this easy (and scrumptious) Cheezy Egg-Wich recipe, which can be whipped up in no time. Scramble 1 whole egg with 2 egg whites in a skillet coated with oil spray. Toast a whole grain English muffin and layer the bottom half with 1 slice of Canadian bacon, 1 slice tomato, the scrambled eggs and 1 slice of reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Top with an optional squirt of ketchup or salsa along with the second half of English muffin. You can even make this ahead of time and serve it in the car when morning schedules are harried.

Pop Art

Store-bought breakfast pastries are popular because they’re an easy grab-and-go meal. And, of course, kids love them for their dessert-like flavors.

My Healthier Toaster Treat recipe has all of the portability and sweetness of the store-bought kind—but with none of the processed sugar or empty calories. Just cut a slit in a whole grain pita to create a “pocket.” Then spread 2 tablespoons of natural nut butter (peanut, almond, soy nut or sunflower) on the inside of the pocket and fill with fresh, thinly sliced fruit (banana, apple, grapes or strawberries).​

(Healthy) Sweets for the Sweet

Bid “Arrivederci” to starchy-sugary-buttery pancakes and waffles. Instead, serve up my “sweet as candy” Waffle with Ricotta-Pineapple Topping recipe. This nutrient-packed combo even delivers a hit of protein and calcium. No time? No worries. Simply mix together 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese with 1/4 cup crushed pineapple (canned in its own juice). Spread the mixture over the top of a toasted whole grain waffle and let your kids feast on the decadent, delicious (and surprise—healthy) flavors.

The Ultimate Happy Meal

Simple, easy, and fun, my Happy Toast recipe makes for an adorable breakfast that little ones will love to help create.

First, spread nut butter on a toasted slice of whole grain bread. Next, place two banana slices for eyes, raisins on the bananas for eyeballs and use thin squirts of jelly for eyebrows. You can use one strawberry, blueberry, blackberry or raspberry for a nose and a few Cheerios for the smile. Kids will have a blast creating their own edible happy faces—and you’ll feel good knowing they’re eating a delicious breakfast that’s packed with nutrition for growing bodies.

Timing is Everything

On mornings that require eating breakfast on the run (or even when on the way to the bus stop—it happens), this Tasty Trail Mix recipe fits the bill (AKA trek) nicely. And throwing together a batch is simpler than you might imagine. In a small sealable plastic bag, combine 1 cup of any whole grain cereal with 2 tablespoons of whole nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts or pecans), and 2 tablespoons of dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots). Seal the bag and shake to blend the different ingredients together. Bing-bang-boom—breakfast is served!

Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, CDN, is the health and nutrition expert for NBC’s TODAY Show and founder of Nourish Snacks.

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