Schools Nutrition How to Boost your Breakfast 13 September 2021 At Magic Breakfast, as you can imagine, we are all avid fans of that first meal of the day. Some like to kick the day off with a big bowl of creamy porridge, others prefer a fresh fruit salad with yoghurt, while weekend specials such as pancakes or a Full English or Scottish also feature as firm favourites. Whatever your breakfast choices, it’s worth considering how you and your family can get the most nutritional value out of your morning meal by making simple additions, swaps or changes to ingredients. Here’s a selection of ideas: Wholemeal bread is a better choice nutritionally than white bread as it contains more fibre, protein and complex carbohydrates which keep you fuller for longer and allows energy to be released gradually over the morning. Wholegrain cereals are also a good choice for the same reasons - wholegrain products contain all parts of the seed (bran, germ and endosperm), while refined grains are milled, removing the germ and bran, which gives them a finer texture and extends their shelf life. However, this process also removes many nutrients, including fibre. When it comes to staying hydrated, a glass of milk contains less sugar and more protein and calcium than fruit juice; although fresh fruit juices provide a range of essential vitamins, they are high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation, or diluted with water (especially important for protecting children’s dental health). Likewise, a piece of whole fruit is a better alternative to fruit juice as it contains more fibre and less sugar (as we generally consume fewer whole-fruits than squeezed juice). Fruit juice has had the fibre removed, meaning it provides a ‘quick energy boost’ that will soon fizzle out and leave you wanting more. Fibre-rich fruit pieces, eaten alongside protein-rich foods such as yoghurt, oats, nuts and seeds, provide a nutritionally dense breakfast which will keep you fuelled for longer. Fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapefruit, melon, kiwis and avocados (yes, they are a fruit!) are lower in sugar than, for example, bananas, mangoes, grapes and cherries. However, it’s important to consume a range of different fruits and vegetables to obtain all the nutrients they provide. Key vitamins found in fruit include Vitamin C (supports the immune system), Vitamin A (important for healthy vision, skin and immune system), folate (for healthy blood formation) and potassium (maintains healthy blood pressure and supports the nervous system). Think about ‘eating the rainbow’ over the course of a week: the more colourful and vibrant your meals, the better! Savoury options are often healthier choices than sweet options as they contain less sugar and more protein, which is essential for growing bodies and minds. Easy ways to include protein as part of a healthy breakfast include: Dairy foods - milk, yoghurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese, kefir (fermented milk cultures which are great for supporting gut health). Beans and pulses - baked beans, lentil dahl, hummus spread on toast or as a dip for raw vegetables. Eggs - any way you like! Scrambled, poached, boiled or as an omelette. Nuts - either chopped or whole, mixed into porridge or cereal, or spread as a nut butter on toast or sliced fruit. Seeds - sprinkled into your breakfast bowl, blitzed in a smoothie or as a paste such as tahini (sesame seeds ground into a butter consistency). Is there one ‘Best Breakfast’ that we should aim for? We must be careful not to view one particular product or meal as the only ‘optimum breakfast’ option, as there are so many different ingredients that can give us what we need in terms of nutrition. The Eatwell Guide clearly shows how meals should be varied and constitute a combination of macronutrients - complex carbohydrates, protein from meat, dairy, eggs or plant-based sources and plenty of whole fruit and vegetables, small amounts of unsaturated fats along with low-sugar drinks to stay hydrated. It is important to offer a wide range of foods at breakfast time, as well as any other meal time, to encourage exposure to a wide range of tastes, textures and nutrients. It can take up to 15 tries of one new food before it is accepted by a child (or adult), so go slow, offer small tastes alongside familiar foods, and don’t force anyone to eat something they don’t want to. Building a positive relationship with food takes time and positive role modelling; if children see adults eating varied, healthy breakfast foods, they are more likely to adopt healthy habits themselves. Here are three quick, easy, healthy breakfast ideas that the whole family can enjoy: Porridge is a great choice as it can be ‘boosted’ to provide a nutritionally complete breakfast. Oats are a whole-grain filled with fibre, plant-based protein, B-vitamins, and minerals, including iron, calcium, and magnesium. Adding milk boosts calcium content and the essential fats needed for brain function. Topping with fruit provides extra fibre for digestion, vitamin C to support immune function and B vitamins for extra energy. Adding some spice is also a great way to add variety to breakfast and expose children to new tastes and flavour combinations (e.g. apple and cinnamon, carrot and ginger, pear and cardamom). If you’re not a fan of ‘hot porridge’, Soaked Oats are a great alternative, and so easy to prepare. Place 40g of oats (approx. 3 tablespoons) in a bowl or container. Pour over 100ml of liquid (water, milk or dairy-free alternative). Add your toppings and store, covered, in the fridge for at least 3 hours (overnight is best). In the morning, the oats will have absorbed the liquid and are ready to stir through and enjoy cold, no cooking required! Bagels are a popular choice for family breakfasts - they are low in fat and sugar, a good source of carbohydrate for that morning energy boost and they are a really easy ‘grab and go’ option. Get creative with your bagel fillings, for example: Hummus is a great spreadable option to enhance breakfast nutrition. It is made from chickpeas and sesame paste which are high in protein (for muscle growth), essential fats (for cognitive function) and is one of your 5 a day. It is also naturally vegan, so a good choice for dairy-free diets. If served with chopped vegetables (such as carrots, cucumber, peppers or sugar-snap peas), this offers a highly nutritious breakfast option. Why not try topping a toasted bagel with low-fat cream cheese and some sliced tomato, cucumber and carrot? Adding fresh or dried herbs, such as basil, chives or oregano, can really wake up your taste buds too. Topping a bagel with baked beans will add extra fibre and protein, and counts as one of the recommended 5 a day (beans are part of the legume family, which are classed as vegetables). Smoothies are a quick, easy way to increase fruit and vegetable intake, and offer the option to add in extra protein, healthy fats and flavours. Start with a base of 250ml liquid (e.g. water, coconut water, milk or dairy-free alternatives). Add in a portion of fruit (e.g. a handful of berries, a medium-sized satsuma, apple, pear, banana or avocado). Add in a portion of veg (e.g. a handful of baby spinach leaves, a 10 cm chunk of cucumber, a small carrot). Optional extras: a tablespoon of plain yoghurt (or dairy-free alternative) a tablespoon of nuts or nut butter (e.g. almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts) a tablespoon of seeds (e.g. pumpkin, sunflower, flax, chia) 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger or mixed spice a handful of ice cubes, for warmer days and extra hydration. Blitz all ingredients together in a blender and serve. Add in extra liquid if a thinner consistency is preferred. And remember, variety is key to keeping breakfast interesting, enjoyable and nutritious. Why not share your favourite breakfast ideas with friends, and swap recipes so that you can try out new ideas, ingredients and cultural specialities?