It’s so easy to just give your kids cereal for breakfast but the convenience can be costly and is not the best thing for their health. Now, let me start by saying this is NOT a post with the most healthy options. I’m simply listing alternatives to cereal here; however, all of these can be healthy options depending upon your product choices. My inspiration for this is my family’s skewed belief that if we are out of milk or bread we “don’t have any food in the house”. (eye roll) It drives me insane. There is more to breakfast than milk and cereal! I always have food in my pantry and fridge and I assure you know one is going hungry at my house. Some of these options will be easy while others will be more time consuming. Choose what works for your day.
- Yogurt — Yogurt is versatile! I always keep yogurt on hand. I avoid brands that use high fructose corn syrup and lots of additives. My favorites for the kids are Dannon or Yoplait and I buy those in the quart sizes. Dannon Vanilla is a staple in our home. For those focused on health I recommend Oikos Triple Zero in various flavors or a plain unflavored Greek Yogurt (Greek has higher protein). Simply put, a bowl of yogurt can be a lifesaver. Add fruit, oats, chia, or even a SPRINKLE of cereal and it’s a great option.
- Smoothies — Hmmm... back to yogurt, again. Kids love smoothies.... even the ones that say they “don’t like yogurt”. Ummmm... of course, you don’t like yogurt, except when you have no idea that’s the main ingredient in that smoothie you just sucked down. Ha! We use any flavor yogurt, frozen strawberries and blueberries, and a tablespoon or two of water when needed to thin it out. This is when a mini-blender is invaluable. I can whip this up in just a few minutes. Of course, you might want to add other fruits or even veggies but I focus on strawberries and blueberries because those are low glycemic index fruits (low sugar) and I keep those on hand at all times.
- Scrambled Eggs — Well, this one is pretty straightforward but honestly if you have a kid that will eat scrambled eggs this is one of those "it's so simple it's insane" options. Protein! Kids really need protein and there is very little in a cereal option. Add a slice of toast or some berries alongside and you have a great start to their day.
- Omelets or “Scrambles” — Omelets sounds so fancy but most of the time I am in a hurry and I add the same ingredients but I stir it around the whole time so I tend to refer to mine as "Scrambles". It's all the same and they are loaded with protein so not matter what veggies or meat you want to throw in there you are going to have a healthy option for the start of the day. I like to oil my skillet with olive oil and use a slice of lunch meat and some veggies that I saute a few moments before adding my scrambled up eggs to the skillet. Surprisingly, broccoli is amazing in eggs but I also love any squash.
- Oatmeal — I don't recommend those little individually packaged oatmeal packs that are full of sugars but if that is what you want to do it certainly will pass as an alternative to cold cereal. I buy whole rolled oats or Quick Oats (we use those to speed things up a bit sometimes). I also cook (this can include the microwave) my oats IN MILK which totally changes oatmeal for people that often say they don't like oatmeal. Actually, I use half water and half milk most of the time because I like to cut out milk usage as much as possible because I believe it is one of the worst things for your health. At our house we simply add some sugar to sweeten it up a bit and we are good to go. If you need a healthier option here I have found that I can have oatmeal for me in Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla yogurt and I am pretty happy with that. Adding fruit, cinnamon, etc to your oats might be something that makes you happy. Find what works for you.
- Pancakes — Make your favorite pancakes fresh or make ahead and freeze for a quick option. Serve with bananas and syrup for an extra yummy treat! For a healthier option I use cream cheese and an egg that I whirl in my mini-blender and cook on an oiled skillet to make low carb pancakes. I have mine with sugar free syrup.
- Protein Shakes — Well, this is incredibly simple! You can use a mixer cup or a mini-blender (Can you tell that mini-blender is my favorite gadget?!) Simply add your protein powder and your choice of nut milks or water and you are good to go! For added fat (and creaminess) I like to add two tablespoons (or more) of heavy whipping cream. Yes, I add fat because fat burns fat and this adds more protein, also. I recommend Jay Robb protein powder, Trim Healthy Mama protein powder, or Plexus P96 as I have found the ingredients in those three to be superior. I personally prefer the Plexus P96 (chocolate or vanilla) because the flavors is stronger and better in my opinion. *Note: You can also add fruits and veggies to your liking to protein shakes for a more complete meal.
- Waffles — Grab the frozen ones if that works for you. I use my Belgium Waffle Maker to make huge thick ones using Emeril's recipe. I can control my ingredients for healthier waffles. Again, topping them with bananas or other yummy stuff makes them even better.
- Ham & Cheese Melts — This sounds like a sandwich and you could do that if you want to but what I am talking about it simply placing sliced lunch meat ham or turkey on a plate, sprinkled with grated cheeses, and nuke in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. This is super fast and super flavorful. Served along 3-5 whole strawberries it is extra yummy!
- Apples & Peanut Butter — Core and slice an apple and dip some peanut butter on a plate and you are done! Eat up! For a healthier option I use Peanut Powder (peanut flour; defatted peanut butter; PB2, etc) to make my peanut butter for me. My kids think it's weird but it tastes like their peanut butter but less sweet.
So, there ya go! Go eat something besides cereal!!