breakfast kids

Elke, 2, is my adventurous eater. Breakfast is eggs with cheese. Fruits of all kinds. Pancakes with blueberries. Scones. Breakfast burritos. Jake, 7, eats cereal. Every. Single. Morning. No joke. Our top two are Cheerios and Organic Clifford Crunch. No milk. Dry. Three grapes or a slice of apple.

My guilt about his breakfast has become more overwhelming since having a daughter who will eat anything—specifically, anything healthy. I know it could be worse. (Can anyone say Fruit Loops?) But even with all of the packed-in nutrients of his cereal choices, it’s simply not enough.

Sick of drowning in our bad breakfast morning habits, I turned to friend Charity Curley Mathews, who successfully feeds her toddler, Phoebe, organic, healthy food—and blogs about it on her yummy-inspired website, Foodlets.com.

“My heart swells just a little bit when those doughy fingers put a fork full of something new to her mouth,” she says of tracking her daughter’s likes and dislikes. (A major plus: Charity is based in Italy, so her blog also covers scrumptious ideas like Italian foods kids’ll love.)

Her healthy-eating philosophy for both kids (her infant is still on the breastmilk diet): “They have the rest of their lives to become sugar and processed food addicts; for now I’d like to show my girls a different way to eat.”

Charity shared two of her daughter’s favorite breakfast recipes and then gave me some whole-hearted advice about feeding your kids a healthy and delicious breakfast.

Here’s what she said.

Do you feed Phoebe a full breakfast every morning? What does it consist of?

We have three standard breakfasts that we seem to rotate through these days: Whole wheat toast with jam plus a wedge of cheese and milk, or oatmeal with milk and dried cranberries, or mini-muffins with cheese. She usually has some stroller-friendly fruit as a mid-morning snack too. Raisins, banana or dried apples are the current faves.

 

Okay, picky-eater question. How do you suggest I try to change Jake’s breakfast habits?

Sometimes we alternate bites: Give him one bite of his favorite cereal, then one bite of a whole wheat muffin (or yogurt, or fruit or cheese), one bite of cereal…

Don’t expect him to clean his plate. He’s in a groove with what he likes so gently nudge him toward something new. Keep your cool and introduce him to tons of new ideas, one at a time, a few days a week.

 

 What are some quick and healthy breakfast ideas for moms on the go?

The fastest is whole-wheat toast in one of two ways: Use the toaster with a bit of jam (no added sugar) on top, or turn on the broiler and make it melted with cheese. You can even squeeze some protein-packed ground up white beans into the cheese version, either spread below slices of cheese or mixed in with grated cheese.

Yogurt (I use plain, organic) with fresh fruit and a bit of granola. (Try to sneak some wheat germ in there too). My favorite is mini-muffins. I love making a big batch on the weekend and stashing them in the freezer for breakfasts anytime.

 

Corn Mini-Muffins with Jam Filling

corn mini-muffins

(Image: Charity Curley Mathews)

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

This recipe makes enough batter for two dozen mini-muffins and six large muffins. Both freeze beautifully.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup corn meal

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup applesauce

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup organic jam (raspberry, blackberry or strawberry work best)

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare one mini-muffin pan plus one large-sized muffin pan with paper liners.

Melt butter and cool, then add applesauce, milk and eggs. (Be sure it’s really cooled before adding the eggs or you’ll get a quick scramble!) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, wheat germ, sugar, corn meal, salt and baking powder. Pour in the liquids and combine until just mixed through. Pour into muffin tins, filling all the way to the top.

Bake at 350°F for approximately 10 minutes (mini-muffins) and 20 minutes (large muffins). Cool on a wire rack.

When cool, use a pastry bag fitted with a medium steel tip or pressed cookie maker to fill with jam: Plunge each muffin from the top, squeezing until you can feel resistance and see the muffin top start to rise. Pull out the point and allow a dollop of jam to flow up through the top. Store in the an airtight container in the refrigerator for three days or in the freezer for two weeks.

 

Oatmeal Raisin Scones

scones

(Image: Charity Curley Mathews)

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa 

The original recipe makes twice as much dough; I halved the ingredients and used a smaller cookie cutter for toddler-sized baked goods. If you want bigger scones–or more scones–just double the recipe.

Makes 24 small scones

Ingredients: 

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour flour

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, plus additional for sprinkling

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoons salt

1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

1/4 cup cold buttermilk

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 large eggs

3/4 cup raisins

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water, for egg wash

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use an electric mixer with a paddle attachment to combine the flour, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Keep the butter in the fridge until you’re ready to use (ditto for the buttermilk); once the dry ingredients are blended, add the butter on low speed until it looks worked it but still chunky. You should see pieces of butter about the size of peas. Add the cold buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs  to the flour-and-butter mixture. Add the raisins last. Move quickly but mix until just blended. The dough is very sticky.

Dump it out out onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and pat the dough until it’s 3/4 to 1-inch thick. Cut into 2-inch rounds with a plain cutter (even a drinking glass works) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the insides are done. DON’T OVER BAKE these though. Keep an eye on them because my first batch came out much more brown and much less tasty.

The glaze is simple: Combine the maple syrup and vanilla. When the scones are done, drizzle each warm scone with a teaspoon of the glaze. While the syrup is still sticky, sprinkle some raw oats on top.

No buttermilk? Use regular milk and add the juice from a quarter of a lemon. Stir gently and let it set up in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Buttermilk is actually a low-fat, high-flavor option so don’t shy away from feeding it to your little ones–or yourself.