The roads are jammed, the trains are packed, six weeks of hit and miss weather have given way to blue skies and sunshine. Yes, indeed, that can only mean one thing: the end of the summer holidays and the return to school!
The start of term can be a shock to the system after the long break, but it is the perfect time to establish healthy eating habits and ensure that your family gets off to the right start every morning.
Most nutritionists agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, helping to improve concentration and learning, but research shows that it is on the decline. A recent study (from Weetabix) reveals that the average breakfast in the UK lasts just three minutes and fifteen seconds and that only one in two of us bother to eat breakfast at all before leaving the house. Children are particularly at risk.
A survey of 10,000 parents across the UK by Local Authority Caterers Association found that one in six secondary pupils don’t have a morning meal. It’s easy to slip into bad habits during the hectic morning rush, but here are some simple ways to ensure that your children tuck into a nutritious breakfast that will keep them going until lunchtime:
1. Save time and cut out unnecessary stress by planning and preparing ahead. Set the table the night before, soak your porridge oats and measure out any ingredients you’re going to need so that at the start of a busy day you can just go on autopilot.
2. Ensure that you always have a supply of nutritious breakfast staples in the kitchen such as wholemeal bread, muesli, yoghurt, nuts and fresh fruit so that you can easily rustle up a nutritious family breakfast.
3. Stock up with ingredients that can give a nutritious boost to breakfast in a matter of minutes, such as the Baobab super fruit, blueberries, cranberries or goji berries. Simply add to low fat yoghurt with a pinch of oats and a drizzle of honey – or sprinkle over your morning porridge – for a quick and balanced first meal of the day.
4. Like to bake? Make batches of healthy muffins at the weekend and freeze them. Simply take them out of the freezer the night before to defrost or pop them in the microwave in the morning.
5. Out of time for breakfast at home, then make your own granola bars at the weekend for the kids to eat as a portable snack on the way to school (also delicious with a cup of tea for Mum and Dad!).
6. A balanced breakfast should include foods from each of the food groups. Grabbing a cereal bar is better than having nothing at all, but it means you are only getting one food group – carbohydrates. Some cereal bars also contain high amounts of refined sugars. Giving your children a banana and a glass of milk – or a banana and a tub of low fat yoghurt – is better than a cereal bar if you are in a rush.
7. Many breakfast cereals are high in sugar so think about making your own healthy alternative. My simple recipe for Bircher Muesli takes only 10 minutes:
1 cup of Rude Health Oats
3 tablespoons plain Rachel’s Organic or TOTAL Greek yoghurt
3-4 tablespoons milk A handful of Rude Health Granola
A handful of chopped fruit
2-3 tablespoon New Zealand Honey
- Put the oats in a bowl and add enough water so they are all covered
- Pop the bowl in the microwave on high for 2 minutes
- Leave to cool slightly and add your yoghurt. Add the milk to get it to the consistency you like
- Add the granola, fruit and honey
- Stir and enjoy!
8. Create your own dry cereal at the weekend and store it in an airtight container for up to two months. Simply mix together 300g of jumbo oats, 100g Allbran, 25g wheat germ and 50g golden linseeds. Get your children to create their own variation by adding some dried fruits, desiccated coconut or nuts. This is a fun thing for them to do and will make them much more likely to eat it! Serve with hot or cold milk and grated apple for natural sweetness – or pour some fruit smoothie on top as a delicious alternative to milk.
9. Encourage healthy eating habits and educate your children on the benefits of breakfast by marking Better Breakfast Week, taking place from 24th – 30th September, at home. Encourage them to get creative by designing their very own weekend breakfast using lots of healthy items and one indulgent ingredient such as chocolate sprinkles.
Check out the Better Breakfast website at http://www.thebotanicalbaker.wordpress.com/ for additional information, recipes, promotions and activities. @BotanicalBaker @BetterBrekkie