Improve your morning routine with simple and delicious local ingredients
Photographer: Jessica Musslewhite
By Jacquie DuVal
Postmedia Content Works
Back-to-school often means back to busy and hectic mornings.
It can be hard to set up a healthy breakfast routine with your children when you are all scrambling out the door in the morning. Between brushing teeth, packing lunches and drinking that essential morning coffee, breakfast may become a low priority for some busy households.
Luckily, Emily Mardell, Registered Dietitian from Food First and GetJoyfull has provided some helpful tips on how to get you back into the swing of things, all while incorporating wholesome Alberta-grown ingredients into the mix.
1. Understand the value of breakfast
“For kids, studies suggest that eating breakfast helps to improve memory, enhance test scores, improve school attendance and regulate behaviour,” explains Mardell. “People who eat breakfast—both kids and adults—are often able to maintain healthier weights.”
Making a healthy and complete breakfast is part of the routine can help both parent and child feel great throughout the day. “When I think of a healthy breakfast, I think about what will give sustainable energy throughout the day,” explains Mardell.
While focusing on nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables is always important, try to incorporate fibre boosters such as whole grain wheat, oats, quinoa, nuts and seeds. Add protein, such as eggs, yogurt, cheese or pulses as the foundation for a great day. A complete breakfast can consist of yogurt, berries and a handful of sunflower seeds, or whole grain toast with ricotta, apples and honey.
2. Turn the routine into a family activity
Making breakfast a priority can also create quality family time. By setting aside time to make breakfast together, families can make eating in the morning a habit, and make sure each member has fuel to start their day.
“Set aside one hour a week for breakfast preparation,” suggests Mardell. “Create a sample menu with your kiddos. The more involved they are in the planning and preparing the meals, the more they will enjoy mealtime, and the less you may struggle.”
3. Teach your kids the value of buying local
“Eating local gives kids’ opportunity to connect with food before it’s on their plate,” says Mardell.
“Exploring local u-picks, high-fiving a farmer at the market, or sampling fresh fruit from a road-side stand: these are experiences that teach kids where food comes from, how it’s grown, and the pure joy of eating food at its freshest and very best.”
You don’t even have to go on a roadtrip to farm-country to buy local. There’s tons of fresh, Alberta-raised meat and produce to be found at your grocery store. Just keep an eye out for labels and signs that indicate local, Alberta or Canadian products.
4. Keep it simple
If your children aren’t big on breakfast, Mardell has some great recommendations: Make it portable, sensibly portioned and keep it simple. “Make it drinkable and portable,” offers Mardell. Alberta Pulse’s smoothie recipes incorporate pulses into the drink, adding both protein and fibre. Making a smoothie with pulses is an easy way to get protein, fibre, fruits and even vegetables all in one.
If your child is a picky eater, Mardell recommends letting go of all preconceived breakfast “rules”.
“If your child wants yesterday’s leftover spaghetti and meatballs, go with it!” says Mardell. She also suggests keeping it simple. Children aren’t always up for a big, complicated meal in the morning (and you may not be, either). Slice some local pears, dip them in almond butter or Peabutter and add a glass of milk.
Emily and her daughter Cela’s preferred make-ahead breakfast is a Homemade Fresh Ricotta. Making a large batch together over the weekend can lead to several delicious and easily-prepared breakfasts and snacks without much fuss.
The best strategy you can put in place is to be a role-model for your children, showing them that eating a healthy breakfast is important and energizing. So don’t skip breakfast even if you’re in a rush!
Homemade Fresh Ricotta
1. Prepare your “cheese station.” Line a colander with two layers of dampened cheesecloth, and nest inside a large bowl.
2. In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, and salt. Stir constantly with wooden spoon, and over medium heat bring to 190 degrees F. As the mixture begins to lightly froth, and steam.
3. Remove from heat, and stir in the vinegar. Let mixture curdle, and rest for 5 minutes. Pour into lined colander, and drain for 20 minutes. Now it’s ready to enjoy!
Photographer: Jessica Musslewhite
· 7 cups whole milk
· 1 cup heavy cream
· 5 tbsp white vinegar
· 1/2 tsp kosher salt
GetJoyfull Tip: For a thicker, more spreadable ricotta, remove excess liquid using Cela’s tried and true “cheese ball” squeezing technique.
GetJoyfull Tip: Keep the whey! Add your favourite herbs, seasonings, and canola oil to make a wonderful meat marinade.
Jacquie DuVal is a writer for Postmedia Content Works, a custom content studio that creates, deploys and measures programs for brands.