This Monday, March 4th, kicks off the first day of National School Breakfast Week! The weeklong celebration brings light to the important relationship between the morning meal and positive results in the classroom. This year’s theme is “Be a Star with School Breakfast”, and emphasizes the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast every day at school. At Red Rabbit we couldn’t agree more! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; it kicks our bodies into high gear and prepares us for a productive day. For active school children, it is especially important to create a habit of eating breakfast.
National School Breakfast Week highlights the wonders that breakfast can have on the attention span and focus level of children in school. Studies show that students who eat a morning meal everyday have higher learning retention and better test scores than those that don’t eat breakfast daily. Whether it means sitting down for some whole wheat pancakes or grabbing yogurt and a piece of fruit on the way out the door, it’s important to always find a way to squeeze in time for breakfast.
With the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season we need to remember to keep our bodies healthy and well rested! One of the best ways to make sure you give your body the energy it needs to get through the seasonal rush is to make sure to eat breakfast every day! The “most important meal of the day” gives our bodies the energy kick start it needs to start the day. Fruit, granola, cereal, eggs… the list of delicious breakfast possibilities goes on and on, so give your body a treat and give it something delicious to eat!
Here are our helpful tips on how to have a healthy breakfast every day!
Make it a habit!
It all starts with breakfast! Children who eat breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination. The State of Minnesota Breakfast Study showed that "students who ate breakfast before starting school had a general increase in math grades and reading scores, increased student attention, reduced nurse visits, and improved student behaviors."
This would not be the case however, if they skipped breakfast or ate only sugary processed foods. These foods may cause your child to have erratic energy levels, so it’s best to eat a balanced breakfast (and lunch and dinner), with a whole-grain carbohydrate and quality protein source, and that will help get them going and sustain their energy levels through lunch time and other peak physical activities like sports.
On Friday, June 15, Red Rabbit had the pleasure of having students from New Height’s Academy Charter School cooking in our kitchen. Ms. Rosen’s 5th grade English class were amazing chefs, creating an Italian feast to enjoy with their classmates, teachers and Red Rabbit’s education team. After a tour of the kitchen and an overview of what we would be cooking for the day, the team of young chefs got to work making a summer vegetable pizza with a sweet spring salad and orange mint iced tea. Everything was created from scratch, as is the Red Rabbit way. Students not only made and kneaded whole-wheat pizza dough, they also made fresh tomato sauce and homemade iced tea by steeping mint leaves. They had a great time, even if a few were covered in flour!
The lab had already begun before the students even entered Red Rabbit’s office
doors,since I had sent Ms. Rosen an excerpt from one of my favorite books, Michael Pollan’sThe Omnivore’s Dilemma, Young Readers Edition. I followed this assigned reading with a few questions relating to the slow food movement, the culture of food and the joy of cooking. This was a great way for the students to connect food with their health, culture and world.
At Red Rabbit, we are advocates for whole foods rather than processed foods, especially for our kids. We feel strongly that food that comes directly from the farm, prepared with as few processes as possible and ends on the table are better for our bodies, but why?
In an effort to accommodate population growth as well as leverage modern manufacturing technology, much of the foods Americans used to grow and eat have been replaced by packaged and processed foods found in stores. Food manufacturing companies spend millions of dollars marketing to us to try and win our wallets and our taste buds. Though these processed foods last longer and taste sweeter, what are the unintended consequences to our health and wellness?
You may find it as unbelievable as I did that three common food additives that show up in many ‘kid friendly’ foods are actually very harmful:
In a 2007 study, artificial colors and/or sodium benzoate preservative increased hyperactivity in 3 and 8/9 year olds when consumed. These food additives are found in cakes, candies, pork sausage, gelatin desserts, soft drinks, juices, ice cream, cheese, butter, pasta and even Maraschino cherries. Check out the study here!
If we aren’t diligent about checking the ingredients in the foods we serve our children, we could be inadvertently giving them food known to cause cancer and hyperactive behaviors such as inattention, impulsivity and over activity. And these three chemicals are just examples of many manufactured additives now found in factory produced food.
Give your body the energy it needs to get through the day by making breakfast an every day habit...Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day, because it is meant to give us that daily jump-start. Research shows that a person who begins their day by eating breakfast is less likely to be obese than a person who typically skips this all-important meal. Eating breakfast is a great way to get your metabolism up and running to help people shed unwanted pounds. Plus, eating breakfast every day prevents you from snacking on high-calorie and high-fat foods throughout the day. According to the National Weight Control Registry, 78% of individuals who have maintained their weight loss of 30 pounds or more, for at least one year, eat breakfast every day. Eating a balanced breakfast can help keep your family alert, improve mood and reduce mid-morning food cravings.
Children who eat breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination. The State of Minnesota Breakfast Study showed that "students who ate breakfast before starting school had a general increase in math grades and reading scores, increased student attention, reduced nurse visits, and improved student behaviors." This would not be the case however, if they skipped breakfast or ate only sugary processed foods. These foods may cause your child to have erratic energy levels, so it’s best to eat a balanced breakfast, with a whole-grain carbohydrate and quality protein source, and that will help get them going and sustain their energy levels through lunch time.
Remember, many breakfast foods contain a lot of added sugar and preservatives and have had beneficial nutrients processed away. Best to steer clear of frosted and chocolate cereals, fat-laden donuts and fast-food breakfast sandwiches, white bread and high-sugar breakfast bars. Instead of sugary juices, serve yourself and your children 100% fruit juices or fat-free or low-fat milk.
Breakfast does not have to be a big formal meal or a time-consuming process. If you are not used to eat breakfast, start with a simple morning snack and add on from there. With a little planning, everyone can enjoy the health benefits from eating breakfast each day. Stick to the basics and serve simple foods that are both nutritious and convenient for anyone’s busy morning routine.
Here are our top tips to a successful and healthier breakfast:
Did you know that January is Oatmeal month? Oatmeal is a GREAT source of fiber (which we all know we need on a daily basis) and comes in all sorts of flavors and varieties – slow cook, multi grain, or single oat. Oatmeal makes for a great breakfast or snack food, for any age. By mixing up the way you jazz it up (nuts, berries, bananas, any toppings or add-ins you like!), you can practically eat this breakfast a different way each day!
For children, choosing natural oatmeal for breakfast, rather than highly processed cereals with added sugars, will set their day up for success. Rather than suffering from the energy rollercoaster of sugar “highs and lows” that processed cereals often create, their moods and behaviors will remain stable throughout the day. Statistics show that having a healthy breakfast helps with concentration, weight maintenance, and overall wellness.
Additionally, oatmeal is also a great gluten-free option, so allergy-prone children can now “enjoy what everyone else is eating.” Just look for the gluten-free certification label, as some oats are processed on the same machines/rollers as those used for wheat.
Oatmeal can be cooked according to any time or budget constraints you may have. For quick preparation, you can choose instant oatmeal in flavors like cinnamon, maple brown sugar or spice. If you have more time, try longer-cooking Irish Oatmeal, which takes approximately 10 minutes on the stove.
To customize your own creation, cook plain oatmeal and add your own sweeteners- fruit, brown sugar, or agave. By using your own sweeteners, you have control of how much sugar is in the oatmeal. If you buy the instant variety, buy the plain kind and add your own sweeteners, as processed flavors are often a bit too sweet for many tastes.