Q. Any tips for sneaking protein into my daughter’s breakfast? She heads off to school after eating sweet cereal and a waffle drenched in syrup. I’m sure she must crash about an hour or two into class.

A. First off, you are an astute mom to care about a healthy breakfast. Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. Unfortunately, typical American breakfast fare, cereals and sweetened convenience foods, often tip the scales in sugar content and lack a balance of protein. The energy derived from these low protein breakfasts, reduce the ability to sustain energy for long – thus the “crash” you worry your daughter may be experiencing at school.

Including protein in breakfast requires  a conscious effort, but one that will pay dividends for your daughter.  As a result, she will enjoy balanced energy and be primed for optimal academic performance and good health.

Mornings are a busy time, making quick and healthy breakfasts sure winners.  Some of my family’s favorite protein rich breakfasts have proven to be:

  • Smoothies that include yogurt, milk, cottage cheese or silken tofu as the base protein source. Augmented withyogurt parfait with yogurt fresh and frozen fruit, these are quickly made with the push of a  button.
  • Whole grain pancakes and waffles (frozen or fresh) are protein-enriched with the inclusion of nut butters (peanut butter, almond or cashew butter) and Greek yogurt, as toppings.
  • An egg and a slice of whole grain toast win the speed award and can be produced in less than five minutes.
  • Any breakfast cereals can be easily supplemented with a turkey or  vegetarian sausage patty, or any lean meats to boost protein (for ease, make sausage in advance and reheat).
  • Another favored option, is a bean and cheese burrito (whole grain tortilla, canned beans and grated cheese) with a slice of fruit.  Some stores carry pre-made burritos, which provide a balanced convenience option that can be eaten on the go.
  • Finally, breakfast parfaits, made with plain, unsweetened yoghurt,  have long proven to be winners in our home.  These are topped any fresh or frozen fruits, with a sprinkling of grape nuts of granola.  A little agave nectar or honey drizzled on top, provides the perfect amount of sweetness.

For more ideas on balanced breakfasts visit: http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_fit/nutrition/breakfast.html.

Ditching sugary breakfast treats

Just as important as ‘sneaking’ in the protein, you might consider ‘sneaking’ out the sugar.  Your daughter’s breakfast could be readily transformed into a protein-rich option with a few amendments.  Omitting the sugar-sweetened cereal, reducing the syrup and adding nut butters as toppings to her waffle, with a glass of unsweetened milk, swings her breakfast back into balance – along with her energy.

While boosting your daughter’s breakfasts, be sure to choose options that are not only healthy, but ones that are simple and make life easy for you, too.  These choices will become the most favored and sustainable in your home.