Parents know all too well that school mornings can be…ummm…hectic, stressful, exhausting.
As if getting your kids out of bed and dressed for the day isn’t a big enough battle, convincing them to eat a well-balanced breakfast (or any breakfast!) at 7 a.m. is a whole other challenge—one that most moms and dads just don’t have the energy to deal with.
To help tackle this challenge, we enlisted Catherine McCord, the blogger behind Weelicious, co-founder of One Potato, and a mom of three. McCord’s breakfast recipes hit all of the requirements for busy parents who want to feed their kids healthy meals: They’re easy to make, require few ingredients, and can double as snacks. Plus, McCord’s kids have given each recipe their seal of approval. School mornings just got a little bit easier.
These Recipes are Nutritionist Approved, Too!
Sara Peternell, a board certified holistic nutritionist, co-author of Little Foodie, and a mom of two from Denver, shares the nutritional punch behind each of McCord’s recipes.
These tasty breakfast bars are made with only five ingredients. Any cereal will do in the recipe, but McCord says her kids love it when she uses a mixture of cereals; it adds an interesting texture to the bars. For an extra touch, wrap bars individually with parchment paper, then tie them with string or ribbon before storing them in a plastic container or placing them in zippered sandwich bags. If you pack one in your child’s lunchbox, slip a note in between the paper and string to let them know you’re thinking of them throughout the school day.
McCord says that when her kids eventually head back to school, these cereal bars will be making an appearance on the breakfast table as well as in their lunch boxes.
You will need:
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 ½ cups cereal of choice
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats*
- Place the first three ingredients in a pot over low heat and stir until thoroughly combined and warmed through, about two minutes.
- Place the cereal and oats in a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Pour the warm peanut butter mixture over the cereal and stir to coat the dry ingredients.
- Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Scoop the mixture into the pan, then gently press down.
- Freeze the mixture for at least 30 minutes.
- Move the solidified mixture from the pan to a cutting board, and use a serrated knife to cut into bars.
*Oats can be toasted in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes for a more “toasty” flavor, if desired.
“Choose cereals that aren’t too sweet or sugary, like Cheerios, which are also gluten-free. Cereals that are high in fiber or protein are also good choices since they will help keep kids full until lunch.” —Sara Peternell
Crunchy Granola Bites
A regular crowd-pleaser, these granola bites are a hit with kids because they can be customized with different toppings. Make them in batches, then let your little ones fill them with berries, yogurt, or peanut butter. Freeze what’s uneaten for up to four months. Before serving, remove them from your freezer and allow the bars to come to room temperature—about 10 to 15 minutes.
You will need:
- 2 cups old fashioned oats
- ¹/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 5 tablespoons liquid coconut oil
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup vanilla greek yogurt
- 1 cup mixed fresh fruit
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- Place the first seven ingredients in a large bowl and stir to thoroughly combine.
- Place three tablespoons of the mixture into greased muffin tins (¾ of the way full) and bake for 18 minutes, or until golden.
- As soon as you remove the granola bites from the oven, use a spoon to gently press the center down to form a cup. Allow to cool completely before removing from muffin tins.
- Top granola bites with 1 to 2 tablespoons of greek yogurt and fresh fruit, or any topping of your choice.
“I like this recipe because it’s well-balanced with carbs, fat, and protein. A well-balanced breakfast is important because it means that a child is getting enough complex carbohydrates for energy, protein for blood sugar regulation and muscle strength, and enough healthy fats to keep them satisfied throughout the morning. If you want to limit the added sugar, swap the vanilla yogurt for plain yogurt.” —Sara Peternell
Bright Green Smoothie
This refreshing smoothie from McCord’s cookbook, The Smoothie Project, blends up quickly and packs in much-needed nutrition for growing kids. Fill mason jars with the ingredients ahead of time and store them in your refrigerator. Then, in the morning, all that’s left to do is dump the mix into your blender and press start.
You will need:
- 1 ½ cups fresh spinach
- ¼ cup frozen pineapple
- ½ cup frozen mango
- 1 large banana
- 1 cup orange juice
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy.
“I make a similar smoothie for my kids, too! I love that this recipe includes spinach because it’s a great source of iron, calcium, magnesium, and folate. These nutrients are essential for children’s growth and development, especially their brains.” —Sara Peternell
Carrot Apple Coconut Muffins
McCord says parents often ask her how they can sneak some veggies into their child’s meals. Her response: “Try not to sneak!” Exposing kids to new foods, that are also good for them, in a positive way (or in this case, in a tasty recipe) can be helpful in their learning to love them. These muffins are easy to eat on the go and work well for snack time.
You will need:
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
- 1 apple, peeled and grated, about ½ cup (gala, fuji, and pink lady are good choices)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¹3 cup milk
- ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
- ½ cup honey
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.
- Place 1 tablespoon of batter into greased mini muffin tins.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then serve.
“I love the use of apples and carrots in this recipe. Kids who consume apples and carrots regularly tend to have healthier immune and digestive systems, fewer colds and illnesses and belly pain, and also have vibrant skin, hair, and eyes. To make this recipe even healthier, use coconut or avocado oil instead of vegetable or canola oil, which are both highly processed. Sub either option in a 1:1 ratio.” —Sara Peternell