Back to School with a Healthy Breakfast
Public Health England reported in April that children consume over half the recommended sugar intake before they started school, i.e. this means what they eat for breakfast at home! Shop bought sugary cereals are the usual choice, but with a little planning there are numerous other options that are far healthier and the whole family can enjoy them too.
Reducing our sugar intake isn’t easy because sugar is addictive, the more we eat, the more we crave it. In the long-term term it can increase the risk of a whole range of health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and hormone imbalances including PMS. Regular consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates; such as white bread, white pasta, breakfast cereals, biscuits and cakes, can also have a strong impact upon your brain function too, which can have a detrimental effect on our children's concentration levels and ability to learn. These foods have very little nutritional value; they are a source of empty calories as the processing removes any vitamins and minerals.
So, as a new school year is about to begin, it’s a good time to have a re-think about family breakfasts. Here are a few of my favourite suggestions that are easy to make, tasty and very nutritious:
• Prep breakfast and set the table the night before. • Alternate at least 3 different breakfasts each week for a good variation of nutrients. • Combine protein, fat and carbohydrates to help stabilise blood sugar levels, keeping you feel fuller for longer. • Avoid shop-bought cereals and beware of smoothies, which can be high in hidden sugar.
1. PORRIDGE: Good source of fibre, good for heart-health and slow release so also good for blood sugar balancing. Made with whole, organic jumbo oats and full-fat organic milk (organic to eliminate chance of antibiotics and hormones which are fed to cattle) or dairy-free alternative such as almond / oat milk.
• Add some berries (antioxidants and low sugar fruit) & chopped nuts and seeds (protein, omega-3’s, vitamins and minerals). • Add a chopped banana to the porridge as it’s simmering and serve with a dollop of almond/cashew nut butter (protein & healthy fats). • Chop an apple or pear (vitamins, antioxidants and fibre), sprinkle with some cinnamon or mixed spices and gently sauté for a few minutes in a little organic butter, add to the porridge just before serving. • Grate an apple and add to the porridge along with some cinnamon as it’s simmering, cook for approx. 5 minutes then serve. • Add 1 tbsp. of homemade nutella and 1 tbsp. almond/cashew nut butter and top with shavings from a bar of dark chocolate. Optional - squeeze in the juice from an orange.
2. EGGS: Excellent source of protein, vitamins D, K, biotin, thiamine, and B12. Supports heart heath and brain function.
• Boiled, scrambled or poached with sourdough/wholemeal bread and a scraping of butter • Ham and cheese omelette • Breakfast frittata with added vegetables • Egg Muffins (excellent low-sugar option) • Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (good quality protein and healthy fats)
3. AVOCADO ON SOURDOUGH:
Mash an avocado with some lemon juice, black pepper and a little olive oil, spread on sourdough/gluten-free toast and sprinkle with some crumbled feta and/or cherry tomatoes.
4. HOMEMADE GRANOLA:
See recipe, (good source of protein, rich in energy from healthy fats and full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, which supports our immune and thyroid function. Oats contain beta-glucan, which has been shown to support heart health). Beware supermarket varieties, which can be high in sugar.
5. SMOOTHIES & SHAKES:
Quick to make and easy to get lots of nutrients into. Start with a base of full-fat organic milk or dairy-free alternative (almond / oat milk). Always add oats (good source of fibre, good for heart-health and slow release so also good for blood sugar balancing), then some protein and healthy fats (either protein powder, nut butter or a handful of nuts/seeds). Add a couple of portions of different fruits and at least 1 portion of vegetables.
6. OVERNIGHT OATS:
This is ideal when you are short of time as it’s prepared the night before and left in the fridge overnight. See recipe (good source of fibre, good for heart-health and slow release so also good for blood sugar balancing) made with whole, organic jumbo oats and full-fat organic milk (organic to eliminate chance of antibiotics and hormones which are fed to cattle) or dairy-free alternative. Serve with berries (antioxidants and low sugar fruit) or chopped banana and some chopped nuts and seeds (protein, omega-3’s, vitamins and minerals).
*Recipes for my homemade Nutella, granola, egg muffins and overnight oats are available on the blog - www.donnapetersnutrition.co.uk