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BREAKFASTS: ADD SPICE TO KIDS’ MORNING FARE WITH NONTRADITIONAL BUT HEALTHFUL SELECTIONS.

SHARE BREAKFASTS: ADD SPICE TO KIDS’ MORNING FARE WITH NONTRADITIONAL BUT HEALTHFUL SELECTIONS.

Hey all you little rascals, how was that first day back at school?

Festive or famishing?Got the Breakfast Blahs - already?

And you "zookeepers" out there, you brave parents struggling to juggle the food chain in order to somehow, someway get at least a hint of nutrition into the bodies of your young ones each morning: Help is on the way.

Our patron Food Medium, Aunt Edna has agreed to offer some helpful hints to ease the pain of being thrown back into the routine known as the Morning Cra-zies.

(The dreadful MC's are those school days when every lovely child that dwells within your walls - these children are sometimes referred to as "the Waltons" - gladly rise, shine, and dine. Sure, John-Boy!)

Edna compares school-age children to automobiles.

"Some are Mercedes, and then there are your basic Edsels," she says.

"After a long night of `running on empty,' a fill-up is required before that little Edsel hits the road again.

"Mind you," Edna says, "production changes can cause your `vehicle' to become a honking, growing, changing, bundle of teeming, bursting muscle and emotion."

Well, folks, if Edna's mystic insights ring true, and if you notice that your own little Mercedes has suddenly become a "wreck," constantly in the midst of a bad upholstery day, maybe you need to check her fuel!

A strong indication of the Breakfast Blahs is refusal to eat breakfast, and a statement that goes something like, "Food makes me sick in the morning!"

This "I'm-not-really-hungry-in-the-morning-syndrome" is com-mon.

But trying to get your child to eat right, especially at breakfast, can be challenging.

However, here are some nontraditional breakfast ideas. They just may be off-the-wall enough to get your little Waltons in high gear. (Anyway, what's traditional anymore?)

- Fruit and yogurt shakes (see recipe).

- Soup in a mug.

- Peanut butter on toast or crackers.

- Fruit juices.

- Frozen fruit on a stick.

- Muffin/rice cake/biscuit.

- Dried fruits and nuts.

- Custard or rice pudding.

- Granola bars (the more natural, the better).

- Fruit salad.

It's important to realize that since the lines between junk food and a healthful home-cooked meal are becoming fuzzier, kids need to learn to make wise decisions about what they eat.

With 11 million overweight children in America, the need for parental guidance in choosing healthful food is obviously important.

Child Psychologist Dr. James Cosse suggests the following strategies:

- Take the kids shopping and let them read the nutritional analysis on labels. (If they can't read, Mommy can make up intriguing tales of bad fat grams and naughty nutrition nerds.)

- Give children a chance to make choices. For example, let them choose a fruit: apple, orange or banana.

- Don't buy junk food. Keep healthful snacks available in fridge and cupboards.

- Realize that kids will eat junk food outside the house, so teach them to make wise choices. (Sherbet is more healthful than ice cream, for example.)

- Forcing food doesn't work, nor does a power struggle. Don't nag.

Maybe parents are overzealous about coaxing a child into eating a healthful breakfast because they know how easy it is to "run out of gas."

DeeAnn Johnson, a first-grade teacher at Layton Elementary School, says that she sees students who bring "garbage to school most of the time" in their lunches.

Johnson observes that a high-sugar diet makes it difficult for the young students to sit still and concentrate.

"Food does affect the child's behavior," she says. "Large amounts of sugar and starches (found in sugared cereals) is hard on kids.

"These kids just `fly around the room,' she says, noting that once the sugar-high is gone, they "really get tired."

Studies have shown that breakfast eaters are more attentive, less irritable and less fatigued throughout the day.

The lack of time is a big "breakfast-buster."

Showering, choosing clothes, and getting "stuff" together often leaves students no time for a sit-down breakfast.

DeAnn Whitmire, dietician with Western Dairy Council, says, "for most people, breakfast is like tax season, it comes too early and you'd just as soon avoid it."

Still, studies show the importance of eating breakfast.

Whitmire points out some myths vs. facts:

- BREAKFAST IS FATTENING.

"A lot of dieters think so," says Whitmire, "but if you spread the calories throughout the day, you're burning up calories as you go; you don't have that intense hunger that hits at the end of the day where you start to gorge and you don't make bad choices because your body starts craving food."

- THERE ISN'T TIME.

"With a little bit of planning, breakfast can be one of the quickest, easiest meals of the day," says Whitmire.

Try these quick and healthy breakfast bits:

- Pita pockets filled with ham and cheese or even leftover veggies, (scrambled eggs, if you have the time).

- Toasted bagels with fruit topping or flavored cream cheese (You can make your own with pureed fruit and nonfat cream cheese. Brackman Brothers Bagel Bakery has recently introduced NO FAT cream cheese.)

- String cheese and a piece of fruit

- WHAT IF ALL YOU CAN FACE IS A DOUGHNUT?

Nutritionist Marianne Neifert says, "As a nutritionist I'm going to push something that is more nutritious, but you have to do what you have to do. If you do choose a doughnut, try to balance it the rest of the day with more nutritious food."

So there you are. But this breakfast story wouldn't be complete without a final outspoken harumph from Aunt Edna herself.

"My, isn't it easier to just let 'em eat cold cereal?"

Again, we turned to nutritionist Neifert who says, "Actually, that (cold cereal) can be a pretty good choice - even if the cereal is loaded with sugar. At least one study by cereal giant General Mills found that cereal actually contributes less than 4 percent of the sugar intake in a child's diet on any given day - no matter what type of cereal is served."

I wonder if General Mills is related to General Custer.

*****

RECIPES

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS GRANOLA

1/2 cup Grape-Nuts or natural granola cereal

1/4 cup bran cereal

4 teaspoons sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon sliced almonds

2 tablespoons raisins

2 cups plain yogurt

1 small banana, peeled and sliced

Cinnamon

2 tablespoons honey

Sliced strawberries or other fruit (optional)

Mix cereals, 3 teaspoons sunflower seeds, almonds and raisins in a bowl. Fold in yogurt. Divide mixture between 2 serving bowls and top each with banana slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon, drizzle with honey and top with remaining teaspoon of sunflower seeds. Add sliced strawberries or other fruit on top of all, if desired. Serves 2.

- Each serving contains 469 calories calories, 9 g fat, 84 g carb, 418 mg sodium, 14 mg cholesterol.

- From Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

FRUIT & YOGURT MORNING SHAKE

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1 small banana, peeled

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons strawberry preserves

2 ice cubes, crushed

Combine yogurt, banana and orange juice in blender; blend for 2 minutes. Turn motor off. Add preserves and crushed ice; blend 30 seconds more. Serve with a straw. Serves 2.

- Each serving contains 158 calories, 2 g fat, 32 g carb, 78 mg sodium, 5 mg cholesterol.

- From Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

- NOTE: This was a 1988 recipe from the "Silver Palate" duo. We omitted a raw egg from their original recipe due to recent salmonella findings. Vary the fruit, the juices and the preserves - you could make a different combo every morning. For kids in a hurry, put shake in a covered cup and drink with a straw.

BREAKFAST BREAD PUDDING

1 16-ounce loaf sliced, firm white bread

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

3 cups sliced, peeled tart apples

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

8 tablespoons sugar, divided

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 eggs, lightly beaten

4 cups lowfat (1 percent) milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

Trim crusts off bread slices; cut slices in 1/2-inch cubes (makes about 6 cups); set aside. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish; set aside. In a medium skillet heat butter until melted. Add apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about five minutes. In a cup combine flour and 2 tablespoons sugar; stir into apple mixture; cook and stir until mixture thickens, about one minute. Stir in raisins and cinnamon; spoon apple mixture into prepared pan. Layer reserved bread cubes over apples. In a medium bowl mix eggs, milk, salt and remaining sugar; pour over bread cubes. Using a spoon, press down bread cubes to absorb milk. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or bake immediately). Bake until golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about one hour and 30 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes if baked immediately). Serve warm. Serves 6.

- Each serving contains 526 calories, 16 g fat, 81 g carb, 769 mg sodium, 169 mg cholesterol.

- From Scripps Howard News Service

BREAKFAST BURRITOS

2 teaspoons oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 2-pound bag frozen hash browns

8 eggs, beaten

4 egg whites

1/2 cup milk

1 7-ounce can chopped green chilies

1 cup salsa

2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

20 flour tortillas

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil. Add onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to cook until potatoes begin to brown, stirring frequently. In a large bowl, combine eggs, egg whites and milk; mix well. Pour egg mixture over browned potatoes, stir in green chilies and salsa and scramble until eggs are cooked. Assemble burritos by spooning about 1/3 cup of mixture onto warm tortilla, and topping with 2 tablespoons shred-ded cheese. Roll into a burrito. Makes 20.

- Each burrito contains 269 calories, 13 g fat, 29 g carb, 298 mg sodium, 101 mg cholesterol.

- From Scripps Howard News Service

- NOTE: Breakfast burritos freeze well and can be defrosted by wrapping single burritos in a paper towel; microwave at 50 percent power for 3 minutes each.

BAGELS AND ORANGE CREAM CHEESE

2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Grated peel of 1/2 orange

1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon

4 bagels (raisin, whole wheat, etc.), sliced in half crosswise

1 to 2 oranges, peeled, cut into thin half-cartwheel slices

In bowl, combine cheeses, walnuts, orange peels and spice. Spread mixture on both halves of cut bagels. Arrange a few orange slices on one half of each bagel and press halves together. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 432 calories, 23 g fat, 42 g carb, 414 mg sodium, 62 mg cholesterol.

- From Sunkist Growers, Inc.

- NOTE: Obviously, use of nonfat cream cheese makes this recipe much less fatty. Hence, so is the consuming party.

FRUIT 'N' PUDDING PARFAITS

1 package (3 ounces) vanilla or chocolate instant pudding & pie filling

2 cups cold milk

Grated peel of 1 orange

1 orange, peeled, cut into small bite-size pieces

1 cup green seedless grapes, cut in half

2 tablespoons chopped nuts

Prepare pudding with cold milk according to package directions; stir in orange peel. Let stand 5 minutes to thicken. For each serving, spoon 1/4 cup into bottom of cup. Sprinkle 1/4 of the orange pieces and grape halves over pudding and top with 1/4 cup more of pudding. Sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon nuts. Chill, if made the night before. Makes 4 servings.

- Each serving contains 194 calories, 5 g fat, 34 g carb, 359 mg sodium, 9 mg cholesterol.

- From Sunkist Growers, Inc.

TAKE-ALONG ORANGE REFRESHERS

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat frozen vanilla yogurt or orange sherbet, softened

In an 8-to 10-ounce insulated bottle with tight fitting lid, combine orange juice and yogurt; shake well. Chill or freeze, if made the night before. (If frozen in insulated bottle, allow 4 to 5 hours to thwo at room temperature). Shake well for a "frosty refresher." Makes 1 serving.

- Each serving (1 cup) with yogurt contains 170 calories, 1 g fat, 30 g carb, 64 mg sodium, 1 mg cholesterol.

- From Sunkist Growers Inc.

QUICK HAM & CHEESE BISCUITS

Vegetable cooking spray

1 1/2 cups chopped low-sodium 96% fat-free ham (about 1/2 pound)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons baking powder

Dash ground red pepper

1 cup 1%-fat milk

Coat a medium-size nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat until hot. Add ham; saute 3 minutes. Combine ham, flour, and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 22 minutes. Makes 1 dozen biscuits.

- Each biscuit contains 141 calories, 5 g fat, 16 g carb, 265 mg sodium, 20 mg cholesterol.

- From "Cooking Light" Magazine