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Breakfast for Breakfast Haters
By Missy Chase Lapine
Author of The Sneaky Chef

The Sneaky Chef says:

I think Dr. Marcus Welby was telling his patients this on his 1960’s TV show: “Kids, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” He wasn’t a real doctor, but he knew what he was talking about. Here are a few of the advantages backed by scientific studies that providing a healthy breakfast provides:

1. Lessens chances of obesity by stabilizing blood sugar for the day. The word breakfast literally means “break fast.” If they wait till afternoon (about 18 hours since their last meal) to eat something, they will overeat to make up for the deficit, and their body will crave simple carbs.

2. Provides enduring energy, especially if they eat protein and fiber. Both of these help the body elude the spike-&-crash syndrome, provide sustained energy and help avoid overeating.

3. Decreases risk of tooth decay, improves concentration for better academic performance, raises emotional levels, prevents lethargy and irritability, and improves daily nutritional intake.

We’ve heard the above adage about breakfast all our lives, so why do some children put up so much resistance to eating in the morning? The following are the three most common reasons for resistance:

They’re not “morning people.” Perhaps this is based on their biorhythms or on their nature, but it takes some kids longer to wake up and longer for their digestive systems to kick in. They aren’t hungry and they don’t feel like eating, so you have to entice them to accept food. You can’t just explain the advantages of a good breakfast to a child and expect her to be convinced.

Solution: Train kids to eat earlier and earlier by consistently getting food in their stomach every morning when they wake up. To overcome “I don’t want to,” make them a cold, creamy fruit-sweetened drink using yogurt, fruit and milk. This works because kids will generally drink even when they won’t eat; a drink goes down easier, and “creamy” tends to equal “comforting.” Graduate to a more substantive consistency by decreasing the liquid and increasing the solids to convert the consistency to that of soft serve “Breakfast Ice Cream” (see below).

Basically, you are going from a straw to a spoon -- and eventually to scrambled eggs. The added benefit here is that you are training your children’s bodies to accept food in the morning.

Children don’t want to eat the right kind of food. It’s no problem coaxing them to eat Lucky Charms or Pop Tarts, but they won’t eat protein and fiber. Unfortunately for you, many commercial breakfast foods have high sugar content, whereas you’re looking for something healthier.

Solution: Pair a small bowl of sweet cereal with something slower burning like an egg or turkey sausage. Or, use the cereal as a “sneaky decoy” on top of whole grain cereal. The agreement is “I’ll give you the sugar only if you also eat something that slows the sugar down.”

They’re too busy to eat breakfast. First they don’t want to get out of bed and then -- surprise! -- they’re running late for school. But you know you can’t let them leave without breakfast. What’s a Mom to do?

Solution: The Five P’s
Portable -- Use the grab-and-go technique of having something ready that they can snatch as they run out the door, like a granola bar with almonds and oats.

Pre-prepared -- Make it the night before so it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice, like hard-boiled eggs or Sneaky Chef Breakfast Cookies (see below).

Powwow -- Have a weekly meeting to pre-select the foods they’ll eat with them without a fight.

Peculiar -- Allow for the odd tastes of your child. You don’t have to give them typical breakfast fare in the morning. For instance, there’s nothing wrong with left-over pizza, especially if it has healthy toppings.

Packaged -- Make sure it looks yummy and fun to maximize kid-appeal. Give it a fun name, add a few sprinkles, serve it in an ice cream cone (yes, even scrambled eggs!), or on a fun plate.

Sneaky Chef Breakfast Ice Creams

Your kids will think you’re the best when you call them into the kitchen for their morning “ice cream”! These 2-minute recipes are fun enough to entice even the grumpiest kids in for breakfast (especially served with a few sprinkles!) For each recipe, put all ingredients in a food processor, puree on high and hold on tight. Each makes about 1 ½ cups of ice cream and serves 2 children.

For a thinner smoothie, just add a ½ cup of milk.

Really Easy Strawberry Breakfast Ice Cream 
(Rich in vitamins C and K, potassium, folate, calcium, fiber, and protein)

1½ cups frozen strawberries, without syrup or added sweeteners
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon honey or sugar


Extra Sneaky Strawberry Breakfast Ice Cream
(Rich in vitamins C and K, potassium, folate, calcium, fiber and protein)

¼ ripe avocado
½ cup frozen strawberries, without syrup or added sweeteners
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey or sugar


Banana Breakfast Ice Cream
(Rich in vitamins B6, C, potassium, fiber, calcium, and protein)

1 frozen banana, cut in pieces (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey or sugar


Chocolate Banana Breakfast Ice Cream
(Rich in vitamins B6, C, potassium, fiber, calcium, protein, and antioxidants)

1 frozen banana, cut in pieces (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder


Sneaky Chef Breakfast Cookies
Rich in vitamins B and E, iron, potassium, folic acid, calcium, tryptophan, protein, and fiber.

This high protein cookie has plenty of whole grain carbs to keep kids going for hours and contains less than half the sugar of standard breakfast cereals (approximately 6 grams per large cookie, compared to 12 in most cereals). They keep for months in the freezer.

Makes 16 to 18 large cookies

2 cups whole grain cereal flakes 
¼ cup wheat germ
½ cup combined whole wheat and white flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
Cinnamon sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with oil. Using a rolling pin, gently crush the cereal in a sealed plastic bag into coarsely crushed flakes, or pulse the cereal in a food processor.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wheat germ, crushed cereal, flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, oil, vanilla, and ricotta cheese. Add dry to wet and mix just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. Drop single tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, with an inch between cookies. Flatten with the back of a fork, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until nicely browned and crispy around the edges.


© Missy Chase Lapine, all rights reserved.

Missy Chase Lapine is the author of The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals (Running Press, March 2007). She is the former publisher of Eating Well magazine and the founder of a natural baby product line Baby Spa®. Missy is currently on the Culinary Arts faculty of The New School, in New York City, and operates The Sneaky Chef workshops, which is a program of cooking classes and demonstrations that teach families how to eat healthier. She is a contributor to Parenting Magazine, ediets.com, and education.com, and available to individuals, groups and businesses for private cooking instruction, workshops and personal coaching in The Sneaky Chef methods and recipes. Missy lives with her family in Westchester, New York. For more information visit www.TheSneakyChef.com.