Summer is here and there's not a mother in the country who has the new routine quite down yet. Now is the perfect time to try out new recipes on the family for better health. Why not start the summer months off with heart healthy choices for breakfast? The big trick with any diet change is good taste meets easy to make quickly.
1. Start the Day With a Smoothie
Fruit is abundant in summer. Some particularly heart healthy fruits are papaya, cantaloupe, and blueberries. While kids don't always take to papaya, all three of these are great to use in breakfast smoothies, and blueberries in particular often mask the taste of other healthy items lurking around.
Using a banana and non-fat organic vanilla yogurt as a base, and half a banana and half a cup of yogurt per serving. Blend together with cantaloupe and papaya and blueberries. Add in a tiny bit of raw spinach (enough to feel like you are sneaking in veggies but not enough to change the color of the smoothie. Add ¼ cup of orange juice (oranges are great heart foods) or almond milk to make it less thick.
Almonds are a kid friendly nut and easy to toss into just about anything without throwing off the flavor. Almonds also have lots of heart happy Omega-3s and vitamin E. With the same banana and non-fat organic vanilla yogurt as a base, add in almond milk and almond butter, a dash of vanilla extract, and cinnamon to taste and you have what almost feels like a dessert for breakfast.
2. Fruit Salad
It's not just for picnics and BBQs. Chopping up a ton of fruit on Sunday night can make morning breakfasts quick and easy all summer week-long. Chop up the individual fruits and bag separately, then in the morning, spoon up a few fruits from each bag. Voila! Fresh fruit salad. Lean in on the heart healthy fruits mentioned above, but throw in some of your kids' favorites like organic strawberries and pineapple.
3. Japanese Breakfast Standards
What about getting in a little culture at breakfast time? Some standard Japanese fare for breakfast can be easily transferred into a favorite gourmet breakfast for your children. In villages all over rural Japan, Japanese tofu bakeries have tofu ready in the early a.m. much like we have fatty baked goods and donuts. Guess who's better off?
A simple breakfast of brown rice — sweetened lightly with brown sugar and cinnamon — can make a lovely start to the day along with fresh raw tofu. If you live in the cities, there's a great chance your nearest Asian market has tofu of all kinds available — from packaged to made on premises. Did you know there are many varieties of tofu, from creamy to extra firm? A firm tofu can make an excellent finger food breakfast for wee ones. Try a dab of teriyaki sauce on top of cubed tofu or a dash of soy sauce. You don't even have to cook it. Just slice and cube right from the package.
4. Sweet Potato Pancakes
Sweet potatoes really are a wonder food full of vitamins A, C, E, and fiber and beta-carotene. It feels like there's nothing a sweet potato can't do. A favorite treat of ours is sweet potato pancakes - another gourmet breakfast treat.
Bake one sweet potato for each child the night before on slow cook. In the morning, they are nice and mushy inside. Put 4 sweet potato innards in a bowl and add half a cup of flour and 2 eggs, plus a dash of vanilla and cinnamon, and you have sweet potato pancake dough. Fry them up in a tiny bit of olive oil, or use coconut oil for tropical flavor. Serve with a dash of syrup.
5. Egg White Veggie Scrambles
Eggs are great, but too much yolk can be hard on your heart. If you are scrambling six eggs, take out three yolks. Chop your kids' favorite heart healthy veggie into the scramble. Spinach, broccoli, and red bell peppers are three great heart veggies. The trick is to dice the veggies so that they are so small the taste doesn't become overpowering in their mouths. Grate some low fat cheese on top to disguise some of the veggie goodness beneath.
6. The Typical Fare
Of course there are the great breakfast standbys of oatmeal and flaxseed. Try buying these in a muesli mix and sprinkling the muesli over non-fat yogurt, or mix in with fruit.
Summer is a great time to wean kids off too much dairy and juice boxes — which saves you money as well. Why not introduce the kids to drinking iced tea or hot tea? Two perennial favorites are peppermint and hibiscus. Peppermint is great for digestion anyhow, and you can grow mint in a pot outside your kitchen door or buy a good organic one.
Hibiscus is great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and often tastes as if sweetener has been added even when it hasn't. A good tip for hibiscus is to mix a couple of cinnamon sticks with dried hibiscus leaves; pour hot water over and let it seep for a few hours. Kids like it hot or cold. Dried hibiscus is often found in health food stores and Latin American food markets.
Have fun mixing it up this summer for the most important meal of the day. These recipes are so good — and inexpensive — your kids won't even know they are eating healthy. What healthy, delicious breakfasts can you share?