Ah, breakfast. In our house, some days there is glee at waking up, and other times the inner grump comes ROARING their ugly head right out of the gate. Regardless of the quantity and/or quality of sleep, breakfast can really be the tone-setter for the day ahead.
And for those with littles in their brood? Mmm. The power of good nutrition first thing can be their teacher's best friend, not to mention setting them up for success. By filling their bellies with nutrient-dense foods (I'm talking FATS and PROTEIN specifically!), these satiating bites can really carry them through the steady momentum of the morning routine, from getting ready to sitting at their desks, through to snack time. Having those foods that will keep their blood sugar balanced will go MILES in supporting them through the day's brain work. Teachers intentionally put the harder brain and concentration work first thing in the morning, as this tends to be the most productive time for young children in those first 8 years of school, up to grade six. If you provide that good fuel for morning work, your littles will best be able to concentrate and do the work at hand, without the blood sugar crashes that can induce a more frenetic energy in our children.
I'm posting breakfast ideas on today's blog, to help paint a picture of different ways to shake up that first meal. It's true, breakfast really can be the most important meal of the day in my books. But first, let's talk macronutrients, and why we need them.
FATS: these foods help slow down the absorption of food, which gives a sense of satiety or feeling 'full'. This means a little of some good fats can go a long way in supporting a child at keeping blood sugar on an even keel, and prevents the tummy grumblies from taking over. With a good fat in the meal, the body's intake of the other foods, specifically any carbs or sugars will come in a steady stream, providing that fuel for their brains. Oh yes, and fat is an important component of your brain; the cholesterol found in foods like eggs are important as 60% of your grey matter is made up of this type of fat! Ergo, eggs are a brilliant morning brain food.
Fats are also necessary for bone formation, building and regulating hormones, they assist in getting minerals into your body and are vital to your immune system too. If you're choosing fats with the all-important Omega 3s like olive oil or avocado, or that found in fish, nuts and seeds, you are helping keep inflammation down everywhere. Good fats also protect the liver and the heart, so reach for good sources of saturated fats here! Think nuts, butter, ghee, coconut oil, full fat dairy, eggs.
PROTEIN: our littles are working on building tissue all day every day, as one of their main jobs is to grow grow grow. What do you need in a busy 'building' or 'growing' phase in life? Protein! Our immune system runs almost exclusively on protein; bones need it, DNA and RNA are made from it, we need protein for a myriad things in our body. Ensuring a good source of protein at breakfast works also similarly to fat, in that it helps slow down the absorption of foods, contributing to keeping our kids feeling 'full' for a little while longer and ensuring a steady stream of energy to their little bodies. In anthroposophical medicine, protein is the macronutrient that helps our bodies get grounded as well; I'd say here then that protein needs to be an integral part of a child's breakfast in order to be present in their class room and allow them a solid foundation.
(some of these have links to recipes and other blog posts; click on the selection that interests you to read more!)
- We have eggs every morning here. My girlie has hers cooked over easy in butter with S&P, served on a slice of sprouted grain toast slathered in probiotic-rich full fat cream cheese from Vital Greens. (We call it eggs with yellow sauce here, as the yolk is still runny. Cooking it this way ensures more of the vitamins remain, as further cooking will denature some of those heat-sensitive micronutrients.)
- I too have eggs cooked over easy. But first, I toss in some onions in the pan along with some ghee and will add whatever other vegetables I have on hand. It's usually mushrooms and some type of greens, like the beet greens from this morning. Once these are nicely cooked, I push them to the side of the pan and cook two eggs in a bit more ghee. Stirfries aren't for dinner anymore!
- Make an easy scramble cooked in ghee. Add-ons: throw in some grated cheese from the freezer in the last few moments; buy a few bunches of chives, parsley or other herbs and chop them finely, storing in a freezer bag so you can pull a bit out every morning; same idea with some greens like chard, minced finely they won't even notice; toss in a few grape tomatoes or chopped peppers; or crack your egg in a mug and add cream before you toss it all in a pan with butter.
- Make some nutrient-dense grain-free Pumpkin Pancakes (eggs, nut butter, pumpkin); make a big batch and freeze in freezer bags; pull out what you need in the morning and pop in toaster to warm up.
- Busy, rushed mornings? Prepare some hard-boiled eggs and keep in the fridge for a nutrient-dense snack on the go.
- Egg Muffins with Sausage, Spinach and Cheese; freeze and pull portions out to reheat. Endless variations, use your leftovers!
- Egg in a jar (looks delicious!)
OTHER GOOD PROTEIN IDEAS
- Make a big batch of easy homemade sausage patties, freeze them raw on cookie sheets and pull out of bags and cook from frozen. (1 lb ground meat (pastured or grass-fed preferable), 1/2 onion minced, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tbsp chopped herbs (sage, thyme, parsley, oregano or chives), 1 egg, S&P)
- Make a big batch of these Strawberry Lemon Chia Protein Muffins, and slather on some butter or probiotic-rich cream cheese. (My caveats: use honey instead of agave, and please use full fat yogurt! And any milk you like here; bypass the protein powder and use some collagen powder instead (Vital Proteins I like))
- Halve a banana or slice an apple into medallions, slather on your favourite nut butter and sprinkle on some good toppings (coconut shreds, cacao nibs, raisins, mulberries, walnuts, seeds, etc)
- Any sweet breakfast would do well with more protein, by adding this yummy Chia Fruit Jam
OTHER GOOD FAT IDEAS
- Halve an avocado and drizzle with olive oil and a smidge of flavoured vinegar (this is my Chive Blossom vinegar from earlier this year); excellent as a side to any breakfast. Dress it up with minced cilantro and tomato and lime juice for a yummy Huevos Rancheros-like addition to some eggs!
- Drizzle additional olive oil on top of any savoury dish after cooking to increase the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fats
- Add a handful of chopped nuts or seeds to your meal, or shredded coconut too
- Nut butters are a great addition to a meal too
- If you're cooking something, add a pat of butter or coconut oil
- If you're ok with dairy, add some grated or cubed cheese on the side or on top, depending
PREP THE NIGHT BEFORE
- Overnight oats are a popular thing; make sure you add a good fat here like a tbsp of coconut oil, and throw in some fruit, cinnamon, creme fraiche, yogurt, a pat of butter, a tbsp of a nut butter, something to slow down the carbohydrates into the blood stream.
- A grain-free alternative is to use spaghetti squash as your base. Prep the night before. Peach and Ginger Oatmeal, low in allergens.
- Here's a chia seed version from Oh She Glows
DAIRY FRIENDLY EATS (both fat and protein here!)
*sub coconut yogurt if your family is DF
- Make some creme fraiche and pour that over some raspberries, add a splash of maple syrup.
- Melt butter in a pan, throw in some fruit (apples, pears, peaches, asian pears) and cinnamon, cook until soft; top with creme fraiche.
- Use your hand blender to blitz together 1/2 cup creme fraiche, 1/2 a roasted acorn squash (or other squash), a few tablespoons of honey and a tbsp of vanilla. Pudding is served.
- Have some cottage cheese and adorn it at will with fruit and flavours you like
- Make a smoothie bowl: blend some yogurt with berries and some coconut oil, sprinkle on some coconut shreds and blitzed pumpkin seeds. Bonus: add 1/4 tsp spirulina powder to your yogurt/berry mix for added vegan protein. Other add-ons: some leftover cooked sprouted quinoa from last night's dinner; goji berries; cacao nibs; more berries.
- Make some popsicles and pull them out on Fridays for breakfast: blitz some yogurt with fruit together, add some melted honey and coconut oil and combine, toss into popsicle moulds.
- Make a Fruity Breakfast Parfait (please use full fat yogurt, always!)