Every morning when my almost-two-year-old son wakes up it's the same thing: He brings his fist to his mouth and makes the ASL sign for “eat.” That’s an ironic word when your kid is a nine on the one-to-ten scale of picky eaters. Luckily for me, breakfast is where I almost always win him over, and usually it’s the biggest meal he consumes all day. That doesn’t mean I have any extra time to spend cooking, so I’ve gotten creative instead. Here are some of simplest, quickest, healthiest kids breakfasts any parent can whip up—and that even the pickiest children will actually eat.
Content with continental
Though "continental breakfast" brings to mind cheap hotels on the road, tiny boxes of sugary cereal, and bruised apples thrown into a basket, this style of quick and easy morning foods works so well when it comes to kids breakfasts. After all, what could go wrong when options include cereal, milk, juice, maybe a muffin, toast, and fruit? In our house, a hearty serving of raisin-cinnamon bread toasted and slathered with butter has been scoring me mom points for over a year. Usually I pair that with a not-too-ripe banana dished out in chunks, a handful of sliced grapes, and glass of milk. Ta-da! A balanced kids' breakfast of dairy, carbs, protein, and fruit is made easy and delicious.
Fake ice cream
Did you know many younger kids don't realize yogurt isn't a softer, less cold version of ice cream? I say go with this farce as long as you can. Not only does this hearty and arguably healthy (as long as you stay away from sugar-packed versions) food satisfy at the breakfast table, nothing could be easier to serve, both at home and on the go. My household’s favorites include the Colorado-based company Noosa, which does a mean honey version; and plain Greek-style yogurt, something plenty of parents enjoy as well. If your kid doesn't like the taste of tart yogurt, add a little honey or maple syrup to sweeten it up. Some tots will even be down with a swirl of jewel-colored jam and a sprinkling of fresh fruit.
Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes!
I have yet to meet the kid who doesn't like this simple and perfect dish. For starters, that's the one food that my super-picky child will always eat for breakfast. As a bonus, not only are pancakes super easy to make, but many restaurants serve the stuff during the morning hours, and in some cases, all day. Whip up a batch from scratch or save ten minutes by using a box of pre-made pancake mix. On the recipe side, the Joy of Cooking's simple instructions have remained solid since 1931, and chances are you already have all the ingredients lying around the house.
If you want to use a ready-made mixture, The Invisible Chef has an array of tasty options such as maple-oat and lemon-blueberry. Also try Bette's Diner's Buckwheat Flour Pancake Mix, a personal favorite from the Berkeley diner I used to haunt as a freshly out-of-the-house 18-year-old. Just add water, maybe an egg, and the batter is ready to go. Practice making fun shapes or simply dole out the pancakes in silver dollar-sized patties. You can also make a batch and save them for later, because they make great road food.
Like yogurt, smoothies evoke the idea of dessert for breakfast. Throw in said dairy delight as well as copious amounts of frozen berries, banana, honey, peanut butter, almond milk, raw zucchini or summer squash, vitamin powder and even a handful of kale. That's right, a smoothie is the ultimate way to hide healthy foods in the guise of a pink-purple-hued beverage. Serve it right away or keep a pitcher in the fridge for quick and easy meals. Plus, smoothies give kids a reason to use a straw, and boy do they love straws.
One of the coolest things about eggs is their ability to be transformed into just about anything. In this case, egg muffins are the way to go. Not only is this a non-messy way to feed your kid, but they pack brilliantly, are easy to make in bulk, and just about anyone will eat them.
For a group of five or six, simply whip up a dozen eggs, two cups of cheese, a tablespoon of oil, and salt for seasoning. Feel free to add diced onion and peppers, crumbled sausage or bacon, or any other mix-ins your kids might like. Then, pour the mixture into well-greased muffin tins and pop into the oven. Bake at 350°F for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are puffy and slightly brown. Then pop them out of the pan and let the kids take what they want. Who needs forks when fingers work just as well?