Toast or cereal? That’s what most people tell me breakfast consists of at their house. Simple, speedy and yes, all too often, sugary.
So it’s not the best meal of the day. But let me tell you why it should be.
As a kids’ cookery school teacher, I spend a lot of my time talking to parents about family food frustrations – there’s fussy Felix who won’t try anything new; grazing Grace who snacks all day but doesn’t eat at mealtimes; Sally who won’t eat sauces, Bobby who won’t eat food with “bits” in, and sleepy Steve who falls asleep with his head in his dinner bowl. And miserable Mummy who feels she is running a restaurant in trying to accommodate everyone’s food preferences.
There are a few common themes here:
- We are over-snacking our kids so that…
- They don’t come to the table hungry but …
- They do come to the table frequently grumpy and tired so…
- We cook something else to keep the peace
Which brings me back to breakfast.
I recently asked my Facebook group which meal or snack time did their kids eat best at. And the answer was overwhelmingly breakfast.
Now this could be because you are giving them the sugary cereals and toast and toppings they like. But I think it’s also because your kids are HUNGRY having slept (hopefully!) for a long stretch and so also aren’t grumpy and overtired as they often are at suppertime.
And that means they are in a better position to be offered new foods.
Hunger is a great incentive to eat new foods, especially if you stick to your guns and don’t give them an alternative if they don’t like what you’ve offered. The rule is you decide WHAT and WHEN they eat. They decide IF and HOW MUCH they eat.
So try a different tack at breakfast next time. In practice, that might be the weekend and not midweek, when you’ve got more time and you can eat together as a family – remember that role modelling is really important, so tuck in with the kids and keep the atmosphere relaxed.
To help you try something new, I’ve given you a recipe for mini frittatas that are a great way of introducing veggies and are easily varied – add some sausage, bacon or whatever you like as part of the your cooked breakfast, and you are ready to go. They also make great, portable picnic food.
And then wash it down with my groovy green smoothie. This is a great way of introducing spinach. Get the kids to add all the ingredients to your food processor or smoothie maker and tell them you are “painting” and they have to guess what colour the smoothie will be.
So this weekend, get the kids in the kitchen with you and whip up some new family faves and see whether you can get them to breakfast like champions.
These make a great breakfast or anytime snack, and extras freeze really well for lunchboxes.
- 250g cubed mixed vegetables (I use carrot, peas and sweetcorn)
- 2 onions
- 250g cubed, boiled potatoes
- 140g grated Cheddar
- 6 eggs
- 100ml milk
- Chop and sauté the onions in a frying pan till soft and golden
- Add to the chopped mix veg and sprinkle those with the potatoes between 18 silicone muffin tins
- Top with the grated cheese
- Put the eggs and milk in a jug and beat together, adding seasoning to taste
- Carefully pour the liquid into the muffin tins until it just covers the vegetables and potatoes
- Bake at 200C/ 180F for about 20-25 mins until set and golden on top. These are good served warm or cold.
Groovy Green Smoothie
This is a great way of introducing spinach to kids
- 50g fresh spinach leaves
- 1 banana
- ½ – 1 fresh pineapple
- 1 apple
- 150g grapes
- 175g yoghurt (optional)
- Put all the ingredients in a blender and process until combined.
- Tip: If you have a powerful blender or smoothie maker, that’s great, but otherwise it can be a bit “thick” so you can sieve out some of the lumps if you want to or thin down with some water or juice.
About the author
Nicole Freeman always had a love of food and cooking, though not the washing up. But it was her own fussy eater that prompted her to set up The Kids’ Kitchen, her multi-award-winning cookery school for kids where she aims to show kids how much fun cooking can be and, by involving them in preparing and cooking their own meals, encourages them to try new foods..
Nicole has been interviewed on Sky News and has just launched an online course to help support families through their mealtime struggles and will shortly be launching a monthly membership. To find out more The Kids Kitchen and The Kids Kitchen Facebook.