Despite school being out in the summertime, it’s still important to eat a well-balanced breakfast every day. During this time of year, parents may, at times, relax a little when it comes to ensuring their child eats a well-balanced breakfast. Summer breakfast is just as important for children as it is for adults.
Research has shown that protein and whole-grain rich foods are key ingredients to include in your breakfast every day. Keeping hunger pains away and concentration levels up is most important, even in the summer.
Nutrients like simple carbohydrates enter the body quickly and tend to be used up quickly. For example, foods like candy, juice, soda, pastries and white breads will digest quickly and hunger pains will set in. Children can become grumpy and not play as well with other children.
When hunger pains set in, our concentration lowers and we begin to drift away or, in the case of children, they are not willing to be agreeable or anxious to try something new. Protein and whole-grain rich foods keep the hunger pains away.
For breakfast, we should offer at least one-third of daily protein needs to our children. Many times breakfast consists of mostly carbohydrates. For example, juice, waffle and syrup would all be carbohydrates. Changing the juice to low fat or nonfat milk and syrup to peanut butter increases the protein content significantly. Offer an egg or yogurt to boost the protein.
When parents take the time to eat with their children in the morning, it models good breakfast actions. The more times we eat together, the healthier we eat and, of course, do our best in school. Even if it is only for five minutes, it is a time to discuss and find out everyone’s agenda for the rest of the day.
How much protein does food contain? Here is a short list. Read the food label if you do not find your food item listed:
1 egg — 6 grams (protein is mostly in the white, not the yolk)
¾ oz. of cheese — 4 grams
2 Tablespoons of peanut butter — 7 grams
1 cup of milk, whether it is low fat or whole milk — 8 grams
Here are some key foods to include both in yours and your child’s breakfast:
• Grilled veggies leftover from last night’s dinner; broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, topped with shredded cheese rolled up in a tortilla shell
• Whole grain breads with peanut butter and a glass of low fat milk
• Low fat yogurt topped with whole grain granola or 5-10 almonds
• Leftover vegetable cheese pizza with low fat milk
• Cold, whole grain, low sugar cereal with low fat milk
If you are not a milk drinker, try a yogurt shake by mixing plain yogurt with orange juice or try this easy-to-make smoothie. Add a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter to complete the breakfast.
8 oz. (1 cup) nonfat plain yogurt
1 cup 1% low fat or nonfat milk
1-3/4 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Place ingredients in a blender. Puree mixture for 15 to 20 seconds. Serves 2.
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at email@example.com