Back to School: A Case For Breakfast

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It’s back to school and back to the grind. Breakfast remains the most important meal of the day. The evidence is clear, kids who eat breakfast tend to perform better cognitively and behaviorally (1).

Sending your kid off to school with a full belly of healthy food has many benefits. 

First off, kids who eat breakfast get better grades. Out of 10 studies examining the effects of breakfast on average school grades, all 10 of the studies demonstrated that regular, high-quality breakfast intake had a positive effect of school performance (1).  

In fact, it was found that the brains of children ages 4-10 utilize glucose two times more than an adult brain. Which means kids require more fuel for their brains to work optimally. Feeding the body is feeding the brain.

Kids who eat breakfast generally were able to stay on-task better in the classroom. Further, kids given meals that were lower on the glycemic index tended to do better as compared to higher glycemic meals.  Also there was less frustration observed among the students. Foods with a low glycemic load include proteins, fats, and high fiber foods.  Foods with a high glycemic load include simple carbohydrates like cereals and pastries.

We know now that feeding our kids breakfast helps them perform and behave better in school. The question remains then, what should we feed them? Here are some suggestions for whole food, nutrient dense, brain-fueling foods.  Including healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil/milk and nut butters helps in lowering the glycemic load of the meal. Healthy carbs include yams/sweet potato, plantains and whole grains.  

  • Breakfast egg muffins: Sautee vegetables - onions, garlic, broccoli, zucchini, etc. Butter/oil muffin tins. Add vegetables. Beat eggs (8 - 10) and pour over. Bake in 375 degree for 20 - 25 minutes until tops are set. Can have 1 -2 for breakfast and these keep for a couple of days in the fridge.  

 

  • Yogurt parfait: whole fat, plain yogurt layered with seasonal fruits and seeds such as chia or sunflower. You can add ingredients like coconut, dried fruits, cinnamon, and honey.

 

  • Overnight oats: Add ½ cup of milk or alternative milk, ½ cup of old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 tsp of chia seeds, and (optional) ½ banana to a jar or container and give them a good stir. Refrigerate overnight for at least 5 hours. In the morning add additional liquid if you like and once you achieve the desired consistency, tope with fruit, nuts, nut butter, seeds, coconut, spices, or vanilla. The mixture keeps up to 2 days. If you don’t add the banana, up to 4 days.

 

  • Sprouted toast: topped with your favorite nut/seed butter, hummus, or avocado. 

 

  • Salmon Cakes: Drain a can of red salmon (Trader Joe's), and place in a bowl with 1 - 2 eggs (can substitute 1 T ground flax mixed with 1 T water for the eggs), 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (or a little mayo), curry powder to taste, organic raisins. Mix and drop the batter onto a hot skillet (with coconut oil or butter), and cook until browned, turn and brown. Can make ahead and re-heat.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737458/