It is said that breakfast is the ‘most important meal of the day’. For as long as I can remember, it has also been my most favourite meal of the day and I would struggle to pick what my favourite breakfast food was.
After I became a parent, I found myself deeply interested on the subject of healthy eating and what it really meant. It made me reconsider how I thought about breakfast in general and the impact it had on the rest of the day.
For many busy families, the choice of breakfast foods is dictated by how busy their mornings are. A quick poll among family and friends told me that eggs and toast were the most commonly consumed breakfast foods, with cereal being the most popular choice for the kiddos.
The term 'Breakfast' means breaking the overnight fasting period. It kickstarts our digestion and replenishes our supply of glucose to boost energy levels and alertness. It also provides other essential nutrients that our bodies need. Breakfast improves our ability to concentrate, which means productive mornings at work for us and better focus at school for kids.
So, now that we know importance of this meal, what can we do to make it better? A big change that I have worked on is including vegetables into our family’s breakfast.
Now you may think; We eat veggies at lunch and dinner… isn’t that enough? Why should I include veggies at breakfast? Here’s why;
Most of us, do not eat enough vegetables. Getting in the recommended daily intake of veg in a day can be hard to squeeze into two meals ( lunch, dinner). With kids this can be even more challenging as they have smaller appetites. Moreover, a lot of kids will skip eating veggies in their lunchbox, making it even more important to make sure they eat them at home in the morning.
Including vegetables at breakfast is a great way to start the day on a nutrient-rich, high fibre note and makes it easier to get those servings in. It also helps break the monotony and start the day on a spectacularly healthy note!
Keen to try serving veggies at breakfast but worried your kid will look at you in horror and run screaming in the opposite direction?
Worry not! I have a few tips on how to get started! :)
#Tip 1: Start with simple veggies incorporated into familiar foods. For example steamed pureed sweet potatoes or grated carrots/ zucchini mixed into home-made pancake or waffle batter. Start with undetectable quantities… increase the ratio over time as your child’s palette adjusts.
#Tip 2: Include veggies in smoothies. Go one step ahead give them funny names. In our home we have the ‘swamp monster’ smoothie as it contains baby spinach and is a bright green colour.
Cauliflower is another awesome veg that blends seamlessly into smoothies. A simple google search will give you tons of ideas on how to use cauli in a smoothie, but our fave is mango+banna+coconut milk with a few chunks of frozen diced cauliflower.
I once popped left over veggie loaded smoothie into a popsicle mold. This made for a wonderful mid-week surprise after school snack! 😊
(If you think I am nuts for adding cauli to my little one’s smoothie – be sure to read the takeway at the end of this article).
#Tip 3: Make a little breakfast platter! Serve boiled eggs, a few wholegrain crackers and some carrot sticks or sliced peppers with a yummy dip like bright pink beet hummus or guacamole! You can literally prep this entire breakfast the night before. All you need to do in the A.M. is pull it out of the fridge and arrange it on a plate!
#Tip 4: Add veggies to eggs. Mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and even leafy greens, are all so yummy in an omelette. For kids who may not react well to veggies in their omelettes – try changing the “packaging” … pour your omelette mix into a muffin tray and sprinkle some shredded cheese on the top and turn them into egg muffins instead.
#Tip 5: Try breakfasts from other cultures – Shakshouka (Middle eastern) or a mixed vegetable paratha (India) make for delicious veggie-loaded breakfasts. These do need a bit of extra prep time, so are great for the weekends! 😊
Many a time, we are hesitant to try new things because we are convinced the kids will outright reject them. The truth is, maybe they will, maybe they won’t.
The important thing to remember is that it takes consistency and repeat exposure to get kids to get kids on board with new habits. Start slow and be cool.
This is an #atomichabit – a series of small changes that nudge us in the direction we want to go. Changes that seem small and insignificant at first but will compound into remarkable, rewarding results if you stick with them! 😊
Lastly, incase you need some inspo, below is a snapshot of what a weekly veggie-incorporated breakfast menu in our home looks like. I try to include veggies in our breakfast at least 3 days a week.
Mon: Spinach bell pepper omelette / Scrambled eggs + baked sweet potato
Tue: Almond-Oat porridge /or/ Overnight oats with chopped nuts & berries
Wed: Smoothie (Usually a fruit, non-dairy milk, nut butter, veggies)
Thu: Eggs (Sunny side up, with toast, and sliced orange or berries)
Fri: Cheela (Indian chickpea flour crepe) with Guacamole
Sat: Pancakes (sweet potato/ zuchhini in the batter)Sun: Cheese egg toast / Veggie Uttapam / Upma (Indian breakfasts)