Start the Day Right - Eat Breakfast

by Clarissa Camus

We've all heard the saying that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." In fact, I can't tell you how many times my mother repeated that to me when I was growing up. So was mom right? Mothers are usually right (I can say that now because I'm the mother of four) and this is no exception.

Breakfast literally means "to break the fast" which is exactly what we do when we wake up in the morning and haven't eaten since dinner (or since our late night snack attack).

So why is it so important to eat in the morning and not skip breakfast?

The answer has to do with your body. Your body stores up glucose or sugar in your blood. This sugar ends up in your liver and then your liver releases it as energy in bursts throughout the day in the form of glycogen. If you skip breakfast your body will run out of glycogen by the middle of the morning which means no more energy bursts. When this happens your body is like a car that runs out of gas.

So if you skip breakfast, chances are you'll feel tired and lacking energy by mid morning. You'll have a hard time concentrating and your thinking will be clouded. You'll probably be nervous and irritable as well.

Kids and Breakfast

Everyone should eat breakfast to keep the body fueled up. It's especially important that kids eat breakfast. Children and teenagers are growing so if they skip the most important meal of the day this can cause real problems. Unfortunately studies show that more than one third of all kids in America are skipping breakfast. If kids skip breakfast it can harm their growth and development. These kids have a greater chance of getting lower grades in school, having learning and behavioral problems, and developing nutritional deficiencies such as calcium and protein deficiencies. Children who are regular breakfast skippers are more likely to have problems with obesity and even tooth decay.

What can we as parents do to help our kids start the day right?

The first step parents can take is to be a good example and eat breakfast themselves. Kids usually follow the lead of parents. Living a busy lifestyles makes it easy for parents and kids to skip breakfast. You've got to make the effort each morning and start your day right by eating breakfast.

Second, don't feel you have to make elaborate breakfast food. Stick to the basics and serve simple foods that are nutritious and quick and easy to eat in the morning. You can make homemade pancakes with bacon and eggs on the weekends, but keep it simple during the week days. I'm a big fan of cereal, but if you have a hard time getting your child to eat cereal, then get creative and make eating breakfast fun. Do it for yourself and for your kids!

Here are a few tips for breakfast on the go:

* stay away from sugary breakfast cereals and donuts in the morning
* serve instant oatmeal on a cold morning
* buy a variety of whole grain cereals that are low in sugar
* sprinkle oat bran, wheat bran, psyllium husk, flax seed meal on cereal for extra fiber
* make cheese sandwiches, scrambled egg burritos, avocado roll-ups and other finger foods that kids can eat quickly
* cut up different fruits and serve fruit salad drizzled with yogurt
* spread cream cheese on a bagel or peanut butter on toast
* blend up a fruit and yogurt smoothie
* give your child a bag of trail mix or granola to eat on the school bus
*boil, scramble, fry, or poach eggs - they're packed with nutrition and one a day is perfectly healthy
* encourage kids to drink a glass of milk if they don't eat cereal
* offer your kids a bowl of baked beans or beans on toast - they're loaded with protein
* try to get your kids to eat breakfast sitting down instead of on the go

Then when you have a little extra time on Saturday or Sunday morning, make up a breakfast bonanza. Here are some of my favorite breakfast recipes:

Buttermilk Biscuits

5 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup shortening
2 cups buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl add dry yeast to warm water and let dissolve. Add shortening to dry ingredients one spoonful at a time. Add yeast and water mixture. Then add buttermilk. Mix until smooth. Cover a leave to rest. Flour your counter and add dough mixture. Roll with a rolling pin and cut with a biscuit cutter or glass jar to make nice round biscuits. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450F degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 2 dozen biscuits.

Oh So Sweet Potato Hashbrowns

2 medium potatoes
2 small sweet potatoes
1-2 teaspoon salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil

Peel potatoes and sweet potatoes, then shred. Add salt. Drain water from potato mixture and pat dry with paper towel. Heat oil in a fry pan on medium heat. Spoon potato mixture so it is not too thick. Fry on one side until golden brown, then turn and fry other side.

The sweet potato mixed with potato makes these hashbrowns extra sweet and yummy.

Breakfast Gravy

Sausages, ham, or bacon
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry up your favorite breakfast treat (sausages, ham, or bacon). After you remove them from the fry pan, leave the grease. Add flour and milk and stir over medium to medium high heat until it becomes bubbly. Add salt and pepper. Pour over biscuits or toast.

Aunt Prude's Yummy Blueberry Muffins

4 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 1/4 cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 cup blueberries

Topping:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream together shortening and sugar. Then add egg. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Next stir in milk. Then add blueberries.

Fill greased muffin tins almost full. Bake at 425F degrees for 25 minutes. Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of muffins when they're hot out of the oven.

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Clarissa Camus is the founder of Easy Kids Recipes (www.easy-kids-recipes.com). Her website includes articles, cooking tips, a free newsletter, and lots of kid-friendly recipes.