Research has shown that children form individual dietary habits even before they turn five, and after age 11, they are more resistant to changing their eating habits. That’s why it’s important for parents to make breakfast a regular activity for their children, especially when they are still young.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know how important breakfast is for children. For starters (literally, as it is the first meal of the day after all!), a wholesome breakfast will strengthen the immune system of a growing child and provide key nutrients for physical and cognitive development.
A nutritious brekkie will further improve your child’s mood, memory, learning skills and focus. This is essential for both pre-schoolers and primary school students as most of them have a busy morning schedule ahead, in and out of the classroom.
Eating a regular breakfast also makes it easier for children to meet their daily nutrient needs [see box], as their appetites tend to be better during the first half of the day. A child who skips breakfast may compensate later in the day, either by overeating or succumbing to unhealthy choices such as junk food. In fact, junk food is a major contributing factor to the rise of childhood obesity.
Oatmeal Pancakes (Makes 6)
• ¾ cup rolled oats (instant or regular)
• ¾ cup oat flour*
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1½ cups low-fat milk (may substitute with choco malt milk)
• Margarine or vegetable oil
Stir-ins (portions may be adjusted according to personal preference):
• 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries/strawberries/raspberries
• ¾ cup finely chopped apples/dried raisins
• 1 medium-sized ripe banana (mashed)
• ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
• ¼ cup chopped nuts such as pecans/walnuts
• Honey, canned/sliced fruit, jam, yogurt, cream cheese
*Oat flour is a healthier option than white flour or all-purpose flour because of its high fibre content; it is also gluten-free. You can make oat flour at home by pulverising ¾ cup of instant or regular oats into a flour-like consistency using a blender or small food processor.
1. Lightly oil a griddle or skillet with margarine or vegetable oil before preheating it.
2. Combine all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, then slowly add in the low-fat milk and mix until all of the ingredients are blended well together. The batter should be well-mixed but slightly lumpy. Next, add your optional stir-ins into the batter. Do not overmix but stir them in gently.
3. Use a flat wooden spoon to drop about ¼ cup of batter (makes one pancake) onto the heated griddle or skillet. Leave for around 90 seconds, or until bubbles start forming and popping on the batter’s surface. Then flip to cook the other side of the pancake for another 1-2 minutes. The ideal colour of the pancakes should be golden brown.
4. Serve warm and with your choice of preferred toppings.
Peanut Butter Bars (Makes 16 2”x2” bars)
• ½ cup honey
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 2 cups rice cereal
• 2 cups quick cooking oats (quick oats)
• 1 cup dried fruit (eg. raisins)
1. Boil the honey in a saucepan.
2. Reduce heat to low and stir in the peanut butter.
3. Add the rice cereal, oats and dried fruit. Mix well before removing from heat.
4. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan and press the mixture into it.
5. Wait for it to cool then divide the block into 16 individual bars, which can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
Sweet French Toast
• 1 egg
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ cup milk
• 4 slices of bread
• butter (for frying)
1. Add the egg, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl.
2. Add the milk next and continue stirring in.
3. Melt butter in a non-stick pan.
4. Place the bread in the pan and fry until it is golden brown on both sides.
Fulfilling Your Child’s Diet
According to the Health Promotion Board’s “My Healthy Plate”, a balanced diet should ideally include the three essential food groups: Imagine a plate that’s half-filled with fruits and veggies; a quarter devoted to carbohydrates such as wholegrains; and the remaining quarter made up of meat/others such as dairy and soy.
Here are additional nutritional guidelines to help plan your child’s daily dietary requirements:
• Protein: Between 24-28 grams of protein are needed, which can be found in two servings of cheese, chicken, fish, eggs, yogurt, dried beans, milk, or peanut butter
• Calcium: About 800 mg of calcium, or 3-4 servings of milk, orange juice, yoghurt, or macaroni and cheese
• Vitamin C: The required amount is 45mg, found in fruits like berries, oranges, and cantaloupes
• Vitamin A: The requisite 500mcg can be obtained from veggies such as carrots and and sweet potatoes
• Iron: The recommended 5mg is found in sources like whole grains, lean meat, poultry, fish, beans and legumes
• Vitamin D: Essential for cell function and the absorption of calcium, the daily 5mcg can be fulfilled with a glass of milk or a few minutes of sunlight exposure outdoors
Recommended read: THINGS TO DO WHEN YOUR TODDLER IS THROWING A TANTRUM
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