When you're battling a stubborn toddler in the morning, make breakfast engaging. Take her mind off of her emotions by focusing her attention with surprises on her plate. Offering simple, playful foods in the morning will keep children entertained and their bodies nourished. Even older children appreciate a creative breakfast to start the day.
Think of pancakes like a blank canvas. You can shape, cut, decorate and fill them. Start by using a pancake mix containing healthy ingredients such as whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, milled flax seed, oatmeal or other whole grains. Form the pancakes into the shape of a rounded teddy bear by using dollops of batter for the body, head, arms and legs.
Another attention-getter is to cut a round pancake into letter shapes using a cookie-cutter and spell your child's name. Top the pancakes with natural agave syrup, low-calorie maple syrup, fresh fruit preserves or honey. Sprinkle on chopped nuts or sliced fresh fruit for added taste. For hearty appetites, layer two pancakes sandwich-style with a slice of ham nestled inside.
When your child doesn't have enough time to sit down at the table to eat breakfast, prepare a smoothie in a blender. Start with a liquid base of milk, fruit juice or sweet almond milk. Add chunks of fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt and ice cubes. Use common fruits, such as strawberries and bananas, to please picky children. For extra nutrition, add a dash of brewer's yeast, peanut butter or milled flax seed. Pour the easy-to-sip breakfast into a covered cup and let the child drink while riding to school.
Roll-ups are easy to handle and they make serving breakfast for children simple. Start with a whole-grain tortilla and layer on your child's favorite breakfast foods. Scrambled eggs, sausage links, cubed ham, bacon strips and cheese all provide protein for the day ahead. Sneak some diced green peppers, sauteed spinach or chopped tomatoes into the mix and the adults in the household will beg for a roll-up, too. A touch of savory ranch dressing will give your roll-ups zing. If you're in a time pinch, use deli-sliced meats and cheeses, roll the tortilla, and warm it in the microwave. Cut the roll-up into 1-inch-wide wheels for small children, or in half for older kids.
Older children enjoy fruit kabobs. These on-the-go sticks of fruit usually win over even the most picky eaters. For younger children, make mini skewers from pretzel sticks and use soft fruits, like banana and pear. Although fruit doesn't provide complete nutrition in the morning, it is better than nothing at all, and fruit kabobs also make an appealing appetizer to get kids to the breakfast table for other fare. Children who eat breakfast are more attentive in class and tend to participate in physical activities more frequently in school.
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