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The #1 breakfast your kid should be eating before school

By Michelle Edelbaum, August 29, 2011 - 3:28pm

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My son is a fruit fiend. He’d eat blueberries, watermelon, bananas and grapes (and nothing else!) morning, noon and night if I let him. There are many mornings when I’m lucky if I can get him to eat anything more than fruit before we have to get out the door. But working as the digital editor at EatingWell Magazine, I’ve read enough from our nutrition experts to know that’s not enough to fuel my boy’s active body and brain until snack or lunchtime. Since I know you can’t force a child to eat, my tactic is to offer him the best breakfast around, with some of that fruit he loves so much on top as an incentive. (It worked this morning—hooray for frozen blueberries!)

So what’s the best breakfast to feed kids to fuel their brain and body for the day? Oatmeal! Research shows that fueling your kids with slower-burning carbohydrates (also called low-glycemic-index foods) like oatmeal, instead of faster-burning, or high-glycemic-index, breakfast foods (like sugary cereals) helps them maintain their concentration and attention throughout the morning. (More food sources of slower-burning carbohydrate include bran cereals and whole-wheat bagels.)

Don’t Miss: 3 More Foods That Boost Kids’ Brain Power

Here are a few more reasons why oatmeal rocks:

  • It’s quick (less than 5 minutes if you’re using the quick-cooking kind) and you can pack some in a thermos for your kids to eat on-the-go or at school before classes start. Don’t have time to cook? Check out EatingWell’s nutrition editor’s picks for The Best Oatmeals at 4 Fast-Food Restaurants.
  • No matter what type you choose, quick-cooking, steel-cut and rolled oats are equally healthy nutrition-wise. (Find out how to cook each of the 3 different kinds of oats to perfection.)
  • Adults take note: Oatmeal has 4 grams of fiber per cup and research suggests that increasing your intake of soluble fiber (a type of fiber found in oatmeal) by 5 to 10 grams each day could result in a 5 percent drop in “bad” LDL cholesterol. If you top it with fruit, like 1/4 cup of raspberries for example, you’ll tack on an additional 2 grams of fiber.
  • Moms and Dads: Make a serving for yourself too if you are trying to lose weight. Find out why oatmeal (and which other breakfast foods) can fight fat here.

If oatmeal is a tough sell for your kids, try these grab-and-go Apricot-Walnut Cereal Bars & More Easy Recipes with Oats.

Here’s a simple way to make a bowl of oatmeal, and some topping suggestions to make it tasty:
Bring 1 cup of water (or nonfat or low-fat milk) and a pinch of salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats and reduce the heat to medium; cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.

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Fun Oatmeal Topping Ideas for Kids

  1. Arrange the toppings—raisins, nuts, fruit—in a smiley face or fun shape.
  2. Vary the flavor using spices like cinnamon or make it chocolaty with cocoa powder.
  3. Let kids make up their own flavor combinations by offering a few of these stir-ins and toppings for them to choose:
  • Dried fruit (raisins, dates, dried cranberries or cherries)
  • Cinnamon
  • Toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans)
  • Fresh or frozen fruit (berries, peaches, bananas)
  • Plain yogurt
  • Jam
  • Applesauce
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Milk or soymilk
  • A little pinch of brown sugar

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    TAGS: Michelle Edelbaum, Food Blog, Breakfast

    Michelle Edelbaum
    Michelle is the digital director for EatingWell. She puts her background in journalism to work at to help deliver daily inspiration for eating healthy.

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