Anyone who knows me has heard me “gently rant” about the limited amount of veggies most Canadian kids are taking in daily. As parents, we should be striving to feed our children a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, and in my opinion at least 3 of those should be vegetables.
That said, it can be really tricky to get 3 servings of vegetables into our kids, especially once they are in school, because most of us rely solely on lunch (which they may or may not actually eat at school) and dinner as our “veggie-friendly” meals.
Why not try veggies for breakfast? There are actually loads of tasty, kid-friendly ways to include them first-thing, and you’ll send them on their way feeling great about starting their day off with a healthy hit of nutrients and fibre!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal: Just stir in some pureed pumpkin to your stovetop oatmeal and heat it through, sweetening with a little maple syrup before serving. A little cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice and some toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch take it up another notch. You can use canned or homemade pumpkin puree. For homemade, cube pumpkin meat, place on stove in large pot, barely covering pumpkin with water. Cook until pumpkin is tender, then puree with a hand blender, adding cinnamon, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg to flavour, and some real maple syrup to sweeten. Cook mixture on the stove until thickened to your desired consistency. If you make it thick enough, you will get pumpkin butter which is yummy spread on waffles and toast.
- Avocado and Egger: While technically a fruit, avocado is a nutrient-packed, healthy fat powerhouse and easy to slip in to children’s meals in a number of ways. I always add a hefty layer of it on my kids’ breakfast sandwiches before adding the egg. Its mild taste doesn’t compete with the overall flavour and most kids won’t even notice it’s there. Top it with big slice of tomato for a punch of vitamin C.
- Breakfast Smoothie: I’ve said it before, but of course I’ll say it again :), a healthy smoothie at breakfast is one of the best ways to start your whole family’s day off right. You can easily get away with adding a couple of different veggies to the blender when it already includes the sweetness of a whole banana and a cup or two of frozen berries. Add your milk of choice and/or water to thin to whatever consistency your family prefers. My favourite “kid-tested” veggie additions include a few spears of frozen broccoli and a huge handful of raw, pre-washed organic baby spinach. It’s a “Green Smoothie” in disguise, because the berries’ rich colour will trump that of the veggies.
- Breakfast Bean Burrito: My kids now often request this one on weekends, it’s that good. Take a whole grain wrap and layer it with scrambled egg, a little grated cheese, black beans, and a smear of avocado. If you’re ready to take it to the next level, you can add sauteed chopped spinach, tomato and onion to the mix. Wrap it up burrito-style. This is a perfectly balanced, protein-rich, portable breakfast for busy mornings!
- Breakfast Pizza: Who doesn’t love pizza for breakfast? There are two crust options here: You can use a whole grain pita or wrap as a base or shredded cooked potato pressed into a cast-iron skillet. Top either option with tomato sauce, sauteed chopped veggies and a little grated cheese and bake for 10 minutes or so at 350F for a healthy twist on breakfast. Add scrambled eggs, black beans or even pre-cooked diced chicken to your pizza for a protein boost.
- Side of greens: Basic, but so darn healthy. Saute a couple of cups of a dark leafy green of your choice in a spray of olive oil over medium heat. You can also throw in some halved baby tomatoes if you like. Add a 1/2 tsp or so of a light soy, like Bragg’s Soy Seasoning, and a 1/4 tsp of toasted sesame oil. Heat the greens until wilted. Sprinkle with a few sesame seeds for garnish of you like and serve beside eggs.