Hero up with a healthy breakfast

Hero up with a healthy breakfast

by Betsy Ramirez, MEd, RDN
Stripes Okinawa

Parents, it’s time to “Hero Up” your child’s diet for back to school! That’s right — summer is almost over (POW!) and school is nearly back in session (BAM!). It’s time to hang up their super jammies and get those kids back to Super Hero Training (aka school). In case you forgot how to power up your kids for all those intensive days to come, here is a refresher course on healthy choices kids will love that give them the very best start to their day.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Studies show that kids perform better and weigh less when they eat breakfast.* The types of foods they eat will also impact their performance. A Pop Tart or other sugar-based breakfast items will also make them feel zapped and power down their energy levels. Focus on lean proteins, whole-grain carbohydrates and fruit. This combination of foods will help keep their blood sugar balanced and brain power at its best.

Power up with protein

What is protein?

Protein is a macronutrient that our bodies need. Protein is important for your body’s muscles, bones, blood, cartilage, skin, hormones, enzymes and vitamins. Iron, found in protein foods, is essential in blood production in the body. Other important vitamins and minerals found in protein foods are B vitamins, Vitamin E, zinc and magnesium. Power-up protein choices: Yogurt (Greek or lower sugar), nuts or nut butters, eggs, cheese, milk, lean meats.

Get instant energy with whole grains

What are whole grains?

Whole grains are a source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are important to fuel your brain and body. Fueling up kids with whole grains gives them energy, fiber and health benefits. The fiber they contain helps people stay regular and reduces the risk of constipation. Whole grains may help reduce the risk for heart disease and can aid in weight management.

Whole grain label confusion

Don’t be duped by marketing claims. Know what the labels on products mean.

Here are some commonly confusing terms you see in the grocery store: The term “made with whole grains” is not regulated. It confuses consumers into thinking a product is filled with whole grains, when in fact it may only have one teaspoon in the entire product. “Multigrain” also doesn’t mean whole grain. It just means the product is made from more than one type of grain. “Stoneground” refers to how the product is processed. It has nothing to do with how many whole grains are in the product.

The Whole Grain Stamp helps consumers know for sure if that product has a legitimate amount of whole grains. Look for the basic stamp (minimum requirement of 8 grams or more per serving of whole grains) or the 100% stamp (minimum requirement of 16 grams per serving or more of whole grains). If a product does not have a stamp, look at the ingredient list. If it starts with “enriched flour,” it is not whole grain.

Smart whole-grain choices: 100% whole-grain bread, cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber, oatmeal, quinoa, whole-grain muffins/pancakes/bagels.

Fuel up on fruit

Fresh, canned or dried fruit provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help protect your body from disease. The USDA recommends children need 1-2 cups a day, depending on their age.

Choose canned fruits packed in their own juice. Also, look on the ingredient list on dried fruit to see if there are any added ingredients.

10 super fast & healthy breakfast ideas

  1. 100% whole-wheat bagel thins, bagel or mini bagel with meat and cheese, a pear and milk.
  2. Whole-grain pancake sandwiches with peanut butter or cream cheese and low-sugar jelly, milk and fresh berries.
  3. Low-sugar yogurt smoothie, cereal bar and grapes.
  4. Instant oatmeal (lower in sugar) with walnuts, banana & milk.
  5. Greek yogurt with 100-calorie nut pack mixed with low-sugar, high-fiber cereal and dried fruit.
  6. Lara Bar, banana and light yogurt.
  7. Whole-grain muffin, milk and sliced apples.
  8. Homemade granola bar and apple slices with cheese stick or peanut butter.
  9. Whole-grain, high-fiber cereal with banana and milk.
  10. Scrambled eggs with low-fat cheese in a whole-wheat tortilla with orange slices and milk.

*Gluten-free options can be substituted. Look for GF cereals, cereal bars, waffles, pancakes, breads, tortillas and oatmeal.

Sources* www.choosemyplate.gov, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737458, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24808492, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20497776


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