You may have seen that the Canadian Food Guide got a revamp this year. Well, there were quite a few changes considering the last revamp was done over a decade ago. And as you could imagine, one major change was the choice suggestions for grains. When looking at the new food guide, there is very little beige coloured foods. White bread is gone, and boxed cereal is out as well.
If you can believe it, cereal (hot or cold) was a suggested meal of choice since I was a child. As in, a box of cereal was on the guide itself. It’s no wonder that families have been drawn to the very easy and recommended choice for breakfast over the years.
Granted, not all cereals are created equal, especially today with the gamut of more natural and healthier choices. But not everyone reads food labels, and marketing can be a very powerful influence for what you want to try when you finally walk down that never-ending aisle at the grocery store. So, in a moment of reflection, I put together a list of alternatives to the breakfast in a box. We have been gravitating to a lot of these options, but I can tell you cereal still lives in my home. My husband buys SO much cereal. Hey, it’s a slow and gradual change for everyone, right?
Consider these options instead:
Peanut butter – one of the best sources of fat and protein, both things that are great for the start of the day. Considering our school is peanut-free, it’s also the best time of day to have it. I offer the peanut butter on a toasted multigrain bread, partnered with a glass of milk. I know some kids don’t love peanut butter ( I know, it’s crazy!) so maybe try other nut butters.
Smoothies – this is a great opportunity to give a lot of things in one delicious drink. I have some go-to smoothies for energy, but for breakfast, I make sure to make the smoothies with milk, banana, blueberries and any other fruit they like. (Add in some vitamin D supplement and chia seeds – they will never know!)
Cheese – I never have to convince my kids to have cheese. It’s loaded with protein, as well as iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and more. All cheeses have different tastes and textures, so it will depend on your child what type of cheese they would like. When it comes to highest protein content, Parmesan is tops. Next in line are cheeses like Swiss, cheddar and mozzarella. As a breakfast, think differently and prepare a plate with fruit, cheese and nuts. It may not feel normal at first, but it’s a great platter for energy for their day.
Eggs – I must admit, this is not on the top of my list for wanting to prepare in the early morning, since I’m not a big fan of the smell of cooked eggs. However, it’s a great source in the morning to get going. Add some turkey or veggie bacon with that and they will be fueled for the day.
Avocado – if it doesn’t seem natural to have this on toast, you can place it in your smoothies instead.
Smoked salmon – Ok, ok, I admit, this is not something we have (one of my boys is allergic to salmon), but I was suggested this from a mama friend of mine as a great source o fast and protein in the morning. So, if you can swing it on a multigrain bagel or on its own, good on you!
Yogourt – this I a tricky one that you will have to take time to read the label for. There are a lot of yogurts on the market that are filled with sugars. My boys have been enjoying Iogo probiotic vanilla yogourt and we add fruit to that. Liberté Greek yogourt is also good. And Greek yogourt is better as a general rule (more protein and less sugar).
Oatmeal – the best oatmeal is the one you have to cook yourself, not a pre-package with added sugars. We like to add things to this such as maple syrup, cinnamon, and fruit. Steel-cut oats can also be added to yogourt with fruit if you prefer it cold.
Homemade baked goods – you have the power here! You can pack a muffin or bread with good stuff and much less sugars. My boys love banana bread with a glass of milk.
And if you just can’t get away from cereal yet, consider a better choice of cereal. Remember how I mentioned my husband loves cereal? Well, he (and now my oldest) really like Vector cereal. But then when I did a comparison for a high-protein cereal, I found Kashi cereal and the big gest difference was the amount of sodium in Vector…way too much for children to start the day with. Because of that, we switched.
It definitely takes more time wen you read the labels and analyze exactly what you are eating, but it’s worth it for your health and the health of your kids. It may seem over said, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Starting the day on the right track really helps kids with their focus and memory for all the great things they will learn in the day.
I hope this list helps you out for your breakfasts! If you have other alternatives to cereal, let me know in the comments below.