In the middle of the daily morning rush – waking up your little ones, getting them ready for school, hurrying for work or household chores – we tend to neglect the most important meal of the day: breakfast.
Sparing a few minutes to ensure your child eats a few bites of healthy food as breakfast is crucial. Breakfast acts as a fuel for the body after an overnight fast – that’s why it’s called “break fast”, after all!
A well-planned, nutritious breakfast is important not only for a healthy body but for a healthy mind too.
- The Simple Solution: We might not have time to make a lavish breakfast spread, but even one or two healthy dishes do make a difference. A healthy breakfast can provide up to 25 to 30 per cent of the daily calorie requirement. Apart from the energy, breakfast foods provide an array of nutrients like calcium, iron and B vitamins, as well as proteins and fiber. These nutrients, if missed at breakfast, are less likely to be compensated later in the day.
- The Brain Booster: The sole source of food for the brain is glucose, and a healthy breakfast helps restore glucose levels, which is important for brain function. Studies have shown that eating breakfast daily can improve memory, concentration levels and attention spans, and has also been linked with improved grades.
- The Mood Enhancer: The foods we eat are linked to our moods. Studies have shown that children who do not skip breakfast tend to be less grumpy and have more energy than those who regularly skip that meal. This is because breakfast gives their bodies an essential boost that gets them going, and balances their blood sugar levels to prevent fatigue and crankiness.
- The Metabolism Amplifier: Skipping breakfast lowers your child’s metabolism to conserve energy. That’s why starting the morning with breakfast helps kick-start metabolism and avoids sluggishness, both of which lead to fat stores.
- The Binge Eating Cutter: A healthy, nutritious breakfast reduces the risk of starving and cuts out the risk of food cravings and overeating later in the day by stabilising sugar levels in the body throughout the day. Having a proper breakfast helps you feel fuller for longer, and you also end up consuming fewer calories throughout the day, thus helping to control weight fluctuations.
Here are some quick and easy breakfast dishes that take less than 20 minutes to prepare.
1. Vegetable Omelette: Add a twist to the regular omlette by turning it into a vegetable stuffed omelette. Not only is it an easy way to include vegetables into your little one’s daily diet but also an effective way. Team it with a small cup of multigrain kanji and turn it into a balanced meal.
Tip: You can use a variety of finely-chopped and sautéed vegetables like carrots, beans, bell peppers, green leafy vegetables and even mushrooms.
2. Vegetable Idli: Add a dash of colour to a regular idli by adding veggies like carrot, beans or beetroots. Not only does this snack provide a good amount of carbohydrates and proteins that’ll kick-start your day right, but it is also loaded with a good variety of vitamins and minerals.
Tip: Replace the rice with oats or sooji to make it more nutritious and bring variety to the dish.
3. Spinach Puri: Who doesn’t like pooris? Hot, fluffy pooris right out of the kadai can melt anyone’s heart. But adding a little finely-chopped spinach to the dough during kneading and teaming it up with any kind of leftover dal from last night is a quick way to balance out your meal.
Tip: You can use peas or besan/ gram flour instead of spinach. You can also avoid frying and turn it into a paratha.
4. Mixed-vegetable Paratha: The oil-conscious relative of the poori is the paratha. Add a twist to the humble aloo paratha by adding veggies to the mix. Team it with a bowl of curd and you’re good to go!
Tip: Add cottage cheese, leafy vegetables or any other vegetable of your choice to the stuffing mix.
5. Sweet or Savoury Pancakes: Whether it’s a sweet pancake made with milk, flour and bananas or a savoury one with besan, curd and veggies, pancakes are quick and easy to make, and help you and your kids load up on multiple nutrients at one shot.
Tip: Instead of adding sugar to the batter of the sweet pancake, you can drizzle honey or liquid jaggery on top. For the savoury pancake/ chilla, use a spoonful of sautéed paneer as a filling. You can even add oats or ragi for a mixed-pulse batter.
6. Masala Ragi Dosa: Replace your dosa’s usual white rice with ragi and make its nutrient quotient jump a couple of notches higher. For the filling, use finely-chopped vegetables like carrots, beans, beats, spinach, pumpkin, etc. instead of just potato. Not only is this dish rich in carbohydrates and proteins, but also in vitamins and minerals – especially calcium, which is needed for young, growing bones.
Tip: Apart from ragi, you can also use sooji or semolina, whole wheat or even ground lentils for dosa batter. You can even add paneer or cheese to the filling and make it even more nutritious.
7. Nutty Banana Milkshake: A milkshake is one of the quickest breakfast foods. Add a banana and some almonds and you have a super milkshake! Not only does it take care of your daily requirements for major nutrients, but also for fluids.
Tip: You can add other fruits like mango, avocado, and pineapple to the banana. You can even add nuts like walnut, pistachio and pecans apart from almond. Use dates and raisins instead of sugar or honey for extra sweetness.
To keep your child strong, break the fast, break boundaries and empower your child with an illness-free life.
Author: Nikita Mitra, Nutritionist, Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre & Research Institute, Kolkata