Written by Florence Caie, CNP
We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and this is especially true for our children who, with growing bodies, need wholesome nutrient dense foods to start off their day. By giving them nutritious breakfasts containing proteins, good fats and complex carbohydrates that together will boost their immune systems, children will be kept energized, with improved mood, and focused in order to learn.
Protein is what children need for their growth, to build their muscles, nerves and organs and to ensure mental development. As well, proteins build immunity to protect children from infections. Some excellent sources of breakfast proteins are:
– Greek yogurt or cheese (if your child does not have a dairy intolerance)
– Eggs (has the highest amount of choline- a must for brain health)
– Nuts and seeds
Children who have sensitivities to dairy can still get their breakfast proteins in the following way:
– Refried beans or black beans with organic barbeque sauce in a whole wheat tortilla wrap \
– Scrambled eggs with salsa coating in a brown rice wrap (if your child has a gluten intolerance)
– A highly nutritious protein smoothie- in a blender combine, milk (either rice, almond or hemp), Greek yogurt, whey or rice protein powder and your choice of fruit which provides the required antioxidants and vitamins.
Another excellent idea is to add to a bowl of yogurt with the following:
– Unsulphured chopped apricots containing the immune boosting Vitamin A
– Nuts – unsalted and raw slivered almonds or pecan halves, giving a source of protein and essential fatty acids for brain boosting nourishment.
– Drizzle a little honey or maple syrup. Delicious!
Complex carbohydrates are the main source of energy in our bodies. Energy derived from complex carbohydrates such as whole grains are preferable to grains which have been refined. Refined carbohydrates have been stripped from their abundant nutrients (such as B-vitamins and minerals). The high fiber content in a whole grain will make children feel fuller for longer. For children who have sensitivities to gluten, offer them the following:
– Brown rice buckwheat, millet and the popular quinoa breads.
– Gluten free waffles (such as buckwheat waffles) are a quick alternative. You can add pure maple syrup and fruit.
– Toast a slice of quinoa bread and add those essential fatty acids found in nuts and seeds by spreading a tablespoon of almond, hazelnut or cashew butter. For those children who have allergies to nuts, try spreading on a tablespoon of Sunflower or Pumpkin Seed butters on wraps and bagels. For added protein and good fats, try adding a teaspoon in blender smoothie for a nutty taste.
Food fats support hormones and the nervous system and are therefore crucial to the regulation of emotions and mood, brain function and nerve impulses. Children need essential fatty acids for breakfast to help with brain function. This will increase their ability to pay attention and focus in order to learn! Studies indicate that hyperactive children have improvement in mood and focusing when foods containing essential fatty acids are added to their diet. So when you prepare that morning omelet, use the good fats contained in coconut oil for sauteing. Other gluten-free ideas to add nourishment to the brain are:
– Add nuts and seeds to whole grain granola in rice or almond beverages
– Cinnamon spiced oatmeal in almond or rice milk
– Almond meal (ground almonds) pancakes with pure maple syrup
– Cottage cheese and eggs
Quick Protein Smoothie
1 cup of milk (vanilla almond, hemp milk or brown rice beverages)
1 scoop of whey protein powder (or rice protein if your child has a dairy intolerance)
– tub of Greek yogurt
– cup of berries such as blackberries or blueberries, organic preferred
– OR use a banana
– 1 tsp almond butter OR if allergic to nuts use pumpkin or sunflower seed butter
– 2 ice cubes
Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until contents are smooth and creamy. Enjoy!
Almond Pancakes with berry sauce
– 1 cup almond flour
– 1 cup yogurt
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1 tsp. cinnamon
– 1 cup water, approx
– 1 tbsp. butter or extra virgin coconut oil
In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, yogurt and the water. Slowly add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients until combined. Heat the coconut oil or butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. With a large spoon dip into the batter and add mixture to the pan making sure that batter is not too dry or runny. Saute until the pancakes are crisp around the edges then flip them and continue cooking for another 4 to 5 minutes until pancakes are brown. Enjoy with chopped up bananas, applesauce for dipping or use the quick berry sauce.
For the berry sauce mix 1 cup mixture of fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries combo plus 1 tsp. honey or maple syrup to a blender. Add 1 cup of spring water or reverse osmosis water. Blend until you have a smooth berry sauce to pour over pancakes.
*Stordy, L.J. (1997) Essential Fatty Acids and Learning Disorders
Holistic Health Journal October, 1997
Is Your Child’s Brain Starving? By M. R. Lyon, MD