Life After Cereal
I left off with everyone panicked that I want to take away his or her breakfast cereal.
Let’s decrease the anxiety today.
A good balance for breakfast is one that has some fat and protein included. The fat and protein can be from plant sources. In fact, making an effort to incorporate fats and proteins from plants is a great strategy for a healthy diet.
Can it be done? Can you really switch to breakfast items that are not out of the box and survive?
Yes. You can do it! You just need to make the transition slowly on to whole foods.
I don’t crave breakfast cereal and bagels and the like. My body wants the more whole food products. Once I got the habit of cereal out of my system I did not think about it anymore. Instead, I typically have 2-3 whole eggs or I go for plain yogurt with fruit and granola.
Here are some of our top Breakfast items in our house:
Eggs. Eggs are a great source of protein and nutrients. When I say eggs I mean the whole egg. When you only eat the white you are missing most of the good for you nutrients in the eggs. Two fried eggs in Coconut oil or real butter is a good breakfast for any kid or family member. Pair that with some sort of plant and you are winning for the day. You will have more energy and go longer without being hungry. One of the easy things to do is chop up some baby spinach, sauté the spinach in coconut oil or butter and then add scrambled eggs. Add a little cheese if desired. There you have a powerhouse breakfast of protein, health fats and plants.
Oatmeal. 100% pure oats with fresh fruit. I will chop up an apple and add that to the pot with the oats, water and some milk. I then add a pinch of salt, some cinnamon and some maple syrup to taste instead of refined sugar. If you can add nuts you have a really good sustaining breakfast.
Smoothies: Oh the options! There are so many smoothie recipes out there that I will not list all the options. I will say that I love buying frozen fruit for smoothies. Not only is it cheaper but it gives the smoothie that nice cold thick texture. I add almond milk, greens and some nut butter. The goal is to have more than just fruit. Add a little avocado for healthy fat or a tablespoon of almond butter. Get your kids creating their own smoothies.
Apple with Nut butter: This may seem like a snack more than a breakfast but a whole apple with nut butter on each slice is a great breakfast of plant fiber and protein.
Bacon: I am not Bacon phobic. Not everyone out there would agree on Bacon as a “healthy” option. It is animal protein and it is saturated fat. It is not as good as plant sources but I will take bacon over a box of processed cereal any day. If you can get bacon from a local farm without Nitrates you doing it the best way you can. However, at the grocery store make sure you look for Nitrate free bacon.
Whole grain toast: Toast is a hard one because most bread is made with the same enriched flour as cereals. Look for bread that says 100% Whole Grain. Not whole grain or 100% whole wheat. You want the ingredient list to say 100% whole Grain. The other two options are a slight of hand. Just saying whole grain means there is some whole grain but probably very little. 100% whole wheat is not whole grain. The bran is still stripped off the grain in whole wheat.
The key to toast is to add healthy fats or protein to it. Avocado toast is a great breakfast. Nut butter is a great option. Eggs on toast work too.
Homemade Muffins and Quick breads: I do enjoy baking. Baking anything at home from scratch is 100% better than anything you buy in the grocery store. However, you have to be wise and use only occasionally in some cases. I love making Pumpkin bread in the fall. Unfortunately even my own recipe from my childhood has a ton of sugar and refined flour. I use Einkorn flour now in the same recipe and replace half the sugar with maple syrup. This makes it better but there is still a ton of sugar in the baked goods. Adding nuts to any bread or muffins boosts its nutritional value for the body. If your kids don’t like the taste of nuts or the crunchiness, try grinding them up in a blender or food processor so it’s almost flour like and add them that way. I have a Banana bread recipe that I do that to the walnuts and no one is aware the nuts are there.
Fruit: Fruit by itself is not a very sustaining breakfast over time. However having plants at breakfast is a great goal.
Veggies: If you really want to be on the winning end of breakfast, incorporate veggies in to breakfast. This is probably the single most hardest thing for families to do. How do you sneak in the veggies at breakfast? Easy. You add them too other things. Eggs are great paired with veggies. Add some chopped sautéed spinach to scrambled eggs or to a breakfast sandwich. An omelet is always great with veggies inside.
Smoothies are a great place to add spinach. The berries in smoothies mask spinach. The color may be different but the taste will be berry.
Plain Greek Yogurt with fresh or Frozen whole fruit added: My children are not yogurt eaters. Somewhere along the way they stopped enjoying yogurt. However many kids do like yogurt. This is a go-to for my husband and I for work. I take a cup of whole milk yogurt, ½ cup of thawed frozen blueberries and a ½ cup of good quality granola to work or when I am on the road. No added sugar. The juice from the frozen berries gives enough sweetness to the yogurt. The granola provides some crunch.
Bagel vs. Croissant vs. Doughnut: I have written about these pure carbohydrate loads before. I will not break down the cons of bagel in particular at this time. Out of these 3 choices, a Croissant made from a local bakery (not Starbucks) is the best choice. It will be made with higher quality flour and less additives and sugar. Bagels are made from all refined flour as are doughnuts. If you are eating a bagel or croissant the best way is with butter or nut butters added. You want some healthier fat and protein. Cream cheese is not a healthy fat choice. Jam on a Croissant only gives some quick sugar. Put these in the occasional category.
What about going out for Breakfast?
When I go out for the rare brunch or Breakfast I have a life long love of Eggs Benedict. I am dreaming of the Eggs Benedict at Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC right now. I do like Pancakes so I will eat pancakes if we are out and the mood strikes. I look for the options that maybe include nuts in the pancakes. A good farm to table ricotta pancake is tasty. If my kids want pancakes or waffles when we are out, that is what they get. Occasion breakfast treats are not going ruin you forever. However, occasional mean more like once a month or a few times a year.
What do I do on days like Cereal Day?
Do I quickly gather up my children and usher them out to the car before the cereal touches their lips?
No. I am a real mom. Some of the hardcore nutrition gurus might see that as a failure on my part. If not eating the cereal ever works for their family then more power to them. The ultimate goal is to get all kids and adults only craving and wanting real whole foods. Of course I would love it if they said no to the cereal on cereal day. However, they need to come to that conclusion on their own from learning what foods work for their bodies and which don’t. I can control what I bring into my house but controlling the outside world cannot be done. I can educate other families to make different choices on their own. Hopefully everyone over time will be on the same page of wellness.
So what is the take away? Teach your family to focus on every meal having some protein, fat and plants. Their bodies and brains will happy and healthy.
Seize the day the right way!