Make oatmeal exciting with an easy-to-make oatmeal bar. Put enticing toppings such as brown sugar, dried cranberries, chopped nuts, shredded coconut and maple syrup, in an array of stackable plastic containers. The night before, make oatmeal every in a slow cooker, and in the morning you can whip the tops off the topping containers and let the kids dress their own bowls of oatmeal with their favorite flavorings. Slow-cooked oatmeal is much creamier than the stovetop variety and many kids prefer the smoother texture.
Put Breakfast on a Sandwich
Kids who might turn up their noses at a plate of fried eggs and toast may take a whole new view of a sandwich. Put a scrambled egg and bacon or ham between two slices of toast, with or without cheese, and add a slice of tomato or avocado.
Roll Breakfast Into a Burrito
Here’s a hot breakfast that requires hardly any cooking. If you don’t want to turn on the stove, whisk the egg in a small microwavable cup with 1 teaspoon of water and cook it on high for 1 minute until it puffs. Make this basic version, or dress the burrito up with crumbled bacon or diced ham, chopped tomato or sliced avocado.
Hold a Weekend Breakfast Lotto
Make breakfast into a special activity for a weekend morning with a special breakfast lottery. Put slips of paper in a hat with lots of choices (that you're willing to cook, of course) and let your child draw one out. Put a range of choices like “Pancakes” or “Granola” or “Cold Pizza,” and, if you like, throw in a wild card, such as “Forget making breakfast and go to a diner instead!” It’s perfect for a birthday or special occasion.
Let Them Play with Their Food
“Egg and Soldiers” is what British moms call soft-boiled egg with toast strips for dipping into the yolk. If you have a child who’s shy of eggs (and all the wonderful protein they provide at breakfast), try making eggs more fun by cutting hot buttered toast into long strips (A.K.A. "soldiers") and letting your child dip the buttery toast into the soft egg.
Make a Breakfast Game Plan
In the same way you might lay out your child’s clothes for school the next day, you can ease the morning transition for fussy breakfast eaters by talking about it the night before. Ask your child at bedtime, “What are we going to do in the morning? Should we have cereal and fruit tomorrow or egg and toast?” It can help your whole morning flow more smoothly.
Lightened Up Cinnamon Rolls
Whole wheat pastry flour is a magic ingredient when you’re looking to add a little more fiber and nutrition to baked goods. Kids will never know the difference. These are still sweet rolls of course, but the goodness quotient has been taken as high as possible: honey instead of lots of sugar, a little yogurt in the frosting and walnuts or pecans for added protein. Warm from the oven, you’d never suspect there’s anything healthy in them at all!
Have Dinner for Breakfast
Many a tired parent has been grateful to serve up a simple "breakfast for dinner". So why not turn convention on its head again and make something savory and hearty in the morning to interest your kids? Imagine their surprise when you ask if they want a bowl of chili, a grilled cheese sandwich, or a little cold pizza? Children’s digestions are pretty active, and you may be surprised at how appealing a savory morning meal is to them.
Short-Order Cook Weekend Pancakes
What parent hasn’t grumbled that they have no intention of being a short-order cook? But for a special weekend breakfast, announce that you’re going to be just that: everyone gets a pancake cooked to their exact specifications. Mix a big bowl of batter and offer bowls of blueberries, chocolate chips, chopped banana or sliced strawberries. Once the pancake batter goes in the pan, let each child sprinkle what he or she wants on the uncooked side before you flip it. Move the bowls of goodies to the breakfast table and serve more toppings with each pancake.
Fun Fruit Fondue
Worried about the constant parade of starchy carbs that your kids eat at breakfast? You’re probably fighting a losing battle if your child is very young, but now and then, skip the toast and offer a plateful of fresh fruit with a honeyed yogurt sauce for dipping. Offer a chopstick as a skewer and call it “fondue.” Works great as a snack, too!
Start with a Cup of Milk
Milk has plenty of protein, along with the all-important calcium that growing kids need so much. Along with the carb-y breakfasts that kids tend to love, such as pancakes or toast, be sure your child drinks some milk. If you have a recalcitrant milk drinker, try heating up a mugful and adding a hint of vanilla and a teaspoon of honey to make it a treat.
Most kids already love fruit smoothies, but you can make them seem special again by using frozen bananas as a base. Add a hint of vanilla and their favorite fruits and pulse into complete smoothness, adding a few ice cubes if necessary to thicken up the mixture. The smoothie takes on a creamy texture that’s as close as most kids will ever get to having ice cream for breakfast! Be sure to peel the bananas and break them into chunks before freezing.
Sneaky-Good Chocolate-Peanut Butter Spread
White-bread eaters will barely notice they’re dining on whole grain toast when it’s slathered with a chocolate-nut spread such as Nutella. To add an extra jolt of protein, mix equal parts natural (unsweetened) peanut butter and chocolate-hazelnut spread.
Many storebought granolas are laden with fat, sugar and salt. This homemade version uses a little olive oil to get that necessary crunch and a light sprinkle of kosher salt rather than heaps of sodium. With this basic template, you can customize your family’s granola with whatever your kids prefer, using any nuts or dried fruits you like. Serve it with milk as a cereal, layer it with yogurt and fruit as a parfait, or send a baggie of it to school for lunch.
Fluffy (and Healthy) Yogurt Waffles
Whole wheat pastry flour adds extra fiber and nutrients without adding heaviness – these waffles are as light and fluffy as the traditional kind. Yogurt, the secret ingredient in the batter, makes for tender waffles that you can freeze and toast as needed.
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Morning routines are a good thing for getting families out the door, but routine breakfasts get dull fast. If you've fallen into the cold-cereal-everyday trap, we've got tips, ideas and recipes to help brighten everyone's morning!
Looking for some ways to spruce up your morning breakfast routine? Check out the slideshow above for 15 tips!