My kids' school year morning routine usually includes eating a bowl of dry cereal before heading out the door. I know it doesn't do much for them nutritionally, but I haven't fought it, since they were usually eating a snack and school lunch by 10:50 a.m.
During the summer, however, we're up early and going strong at the pool for swim lessons, the playground, and summer camps, and their puny bowl of cereal is not giving my kids the energy they need to get through their day. I can see them physically crashing before me.
Depending on their age, weight and activity level, children need anywhere between 0.4 grams to 0.55 grams of protein per pound of body weight every day to build and maintain their growing bodies. Without enough protein in their diet, you may see them become fatigued easily and hungry between meals. Since fingernails are made of protein, they can become weak and brittle without sufficient protein, and little white lines may appear on the nail as an early indicator of protein deficiency.
Therefore, it's time I broke the dry cereal routine, and found some breakfast solutions that the kids are willing to eat, but also pack a protein punch that will sustain them through their busy summer mornings. Sure, there are protein-rich recipes for flax seed pancakes, and quinoa oatmeal, but let's face it: I have 15 minutes to serve my kids a healthy breakfast. Here are so menu ideas to give your kids some protein power in a hurry!
(All of the nutritional information is based on the brands I keep at my home, so yours may vary slightly.)
Cheese sticks and turkey or ham rolls: How very European of us! So, it may not be a breakfast-type food for Americans, but serving cold meats, fish, and cheeses is common in Germany and Scandinavia, and not a bad idea. Serving your kid a rolled up cheese and meat combo gives them some great protein, approximately 7 grams for the cheese and 5 grams for the lunchmeat.
Toast with nut butter: The whole wheat bread I use has 5 grams of protein per slice and peanut butter has 7 grams of protein in a two tablespoon serving.
Hard boiled eggs: This is a hard sell for my family, but some kids gobble them up! An egg has 6 grams of protein, so they pack a powerful punch. One mom recommended dying your hard boiled eggs like Easter eggs year round to make it a more popular breakfast or snack for the kids.
Greek yogurt: I am a greek yogurt convert! The kid-sized greek yogurt cups I get for the kids have 8 grams of protein compared to the non-greek kid yogurt at 3 grams for the same serving size.
Skim milk: Don't forget the milk! There are 8 grams of protein in one cup of milk.
Fully-cooked breakfast sausage: Adding breakfast meat to your menu will add a big helping of protein as well, 10-12 grams per serving for pork sausage links or patties, and 4.5 grams of protein for a serving of turkey sausage patties.
Smoothies: There are some easy recipes to serve your children their daily servings of yogurt or milk in a more appealing way. However, pediatricians warn parents not to rely on protein powder to supplement their child's daily protein intake for fear of exposing kids to too many additives, giving your child too much protein, or not providing enough calcium, vitamins or minerals found in natural sources of protein.
Cold cereals: Serving cereal for breakfast is easy which is why I do it. However, I know I'm not giving my kids the nutrition they need to start their day. The one product I'll mention by name is the line of cereals from Kashi Go Lean. Their cereals, whether the cinnamon, berry, honey almond or original have up to 13 grams of protein per serving. I haven't found another cereal that can come close to that.
A few changes to our family's breakfast menu give me peace of mind that my kids have the fuel they need to exercise and play all summer long.