Wednesday, January 27, 2010

School mornings are annoying so how could I possibly eat a good breakfast?

School mornings are annoying. You've got to get up at an hour decided by someone who doesn't really, really understand how tired you still are; you've got to put on clean clothes, which might require that you find some clean clothes. You may be one of those unlucky kids who has to make his bed in the morning. Then, you've got to brush your teeth and comb your hair, maybe wash your face if you obey mom's shouting instructions, maybe help out a little brother or sister tie his or her shoes and finally, you've got to pack the back pack that mom asked you to pack last night all the while quietly running around in search of your Social Studies notebook which you find under the couch, thank god. So where's the time for a good breakfast, you ask. Moreover, why should I eat a good breakfast anyway?

We can't help you get ready for school in the morning (although we can tell you that some of that stuff can get done the night before, but I bet you've heard that a time or two, right?) but we can explain WHY it is important to eat a good breakfast and we can give you some good suggestions for breakfast on the go (let me guess, sometimes you have to eat breakfast in the car, right)?


In order to get the most out of a school day, your brain has to function at it's absolute best so that you can understand and absorb your teachers' lessons and your body has to have enough energy to get you through the day, because sitting still and listening to your teacher takes just as much energy as recess!

So, what foods will help you perform your best and why:
  • Whole grain foods. Whole grain toast, muffins or tortillas, brown rice, sweet potatoes. These types of foods give you sustained energy. What that means is that, unlike sugary pastries or commercial cereal, these foods release sugar into your blood stream slowly, giving you energy throughout the day. Technically said (in case you want to impress your parents), these foods help regulate your blood sugar.
  • Nuts and Seeds. Nuts and seeds provide your body with good quality protein and fat, both essential for regulating blood sugar and essential for muscle and brain development. You should always try to eat some protein and fat in the morning with your whole grains so that the sugar is evenly and slowly released in your body. Again, that translates to sustained energy. In other words, you won't feel ready to take a nap during 3rd period Science and you won't feel like you will absolutely keel over when you have to run the mile in gym class. Also, sesame seeds are a great source of calcium. Don't want to drink milk? Sprinkle sesame seeds on your toast or on a bowl of brown rice.
  • Omega-3 fat. You should definately have some of this in the morning. It's brain food, pure and simple. BRAIN FOOD! Yes, they sell Omega-3 gummy bears and that's fine, but you should also get this from your food, because after all, that's where Omega-3 comes from. Eat a handful of walnuts in the morning. They have lots of Omega-3. If you remember that walnuts look like brains, you'll remember they're brain food. You can also add flax seeds or flax seed oil to your smoothie in the morning or even chia seeds! Ask your mom or dad to buy flax oil or flax and chia seeds at a healthier food store like Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl.
  • Fresh fruit. Fresh fruit can help satisfy your desire for sweets and it's whole and natural. Fruit contains vitamins and minerals which help prevent you from getting sick, and which help make you think clearly and calmly (aka BRAIN FOOD). Again, eat your fruit with some protein and fat so that you prevent the sugar in the fruit from going into your blood stream too quickly.
  • Veggies. No one said veggies are off-limits in the morning!! Like fruit, they provide great vitamins and minerals. In many cultures, last night's dinner is this morning's breakfast. Try it out next time you have leftover fried rice or chicken noodle soup. You might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Whole wheat tortilla with peanut or almond butter and banana
  • Slice of whole grain toast, 1/2 an apple and cheese
  • Quesadilla with a side of sliced fruit
  • Yogurt and homemade granola (see recipe for granola below)
  • Egg and cheese sandwich with whole wheat English muffin
  • Hard boiled egg, whole grain crackers and handful of berries
  • Protein-rich fruit smoothie with flax or chia seeds

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup coconut flakes
1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
1/4 cup raw almonds, rough chopped
2-3 Tbsp honey (depending on your sweet tooth) or maple syrup
2 Tbsp coconut butter, melted
Zest of one orange
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a bowl, add all ingredients except for coconut butter and dried fruit.

In a pan, melt coconut butter, making sure not to burn the pan or butter! Allow to cool for a few minutes, then add to bowl with mixture and mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula. If the butter is cool enough, you can mix with your hands, which is alot of fun.

Put granola on a cookie sheet and spread out evenly. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or so. Pull out, add the dried fruit, toss evenly and spread out again. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. Let cook before eating (the cooler it gets, the crunchier the granola).

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