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It’s not brain science, figuring out what to feed our kids for breakfast. Except that, well, it is. Science tells us that what kids eat affects their brain and, by extension, their learning capacity. American breakfasts are not terribly healthy. Today’s cereal aisle are like war zones — where the goodies kids want and the healthy fare parents want kids to eat battle it out — and the healthy food often loses.

So whether your child’s staging a morning hunger strike or simply begging for yummy junk, here are some high-protein, affordable alternatives that that will help nourish your child — even on the busiest of mornings.

Breakfast ideas for kids

  1. Eggheads: boiled eggs and salt

    The idea is simple — probably too simple to seem like a brilliant tip. But many kids like simple. The boiled egg is one of the most resilient and easy deliverers of nutrition — sealed in its own natural, fun-to-crack packing. It also delivers excellent nutrients: 6 grams of protein per egg and plenty of brain-boosting choline. Boil a dozen at the beginning of the week and your child can self-serve through the week.

    To serve: Wrap an egg or two in a paper towel so they won’t get crushed and add a pinch or two of salt in a twist of paper for dipping. They can even eat these on their school commute.

  2. Quesadillas

    Sure it’s not sugary flakes or rainbow colored loops, but quesadillas on corn or flour tortillas make for deliciously fast and nutritious breakfast food. Plus, your child can make them in less than a minute in a microwave. It’s also easy to create variety by adding a tomato slice, beans, guacamole, salsa, or chicken.

    To serve: Roll into a cone shape for the morning commute or cut into wedges to dip into their favorite salsa or last night’s beans.

  3. Blender brilliance: fruits & protein

    If the morning drink is healthy enough, there’s no need to eat breakfast. Get out the blender, buy some yogurt or milk, frozen fruits (berries are cheaper and last forever this way) and fresh spinach. Many kids don’t want to eat their greens, but a handful of spinach disappears into smoothies, leaving only a magical green tinge. Greek yogurt offers a lot of protein per spoonful and lends a little extra tang.

    To serve: For extra busy mornings, serve in a recycled jar that your child can throw away at school.

  4. It’s parfait! Layering makes everyday food seem fancy.

    Sometimes your child just wants something fun to brighten a school day morning. Make a yogurt parfait by layering yogurt, fruit, nuts, and granola into a glass can turn an ordinary morning into an impromptu celebration. Make sure you use plain, unsweetened yogurt to keep the sugar levels down and a granola that’s not too sweet. Ask your child for their favorite fruits and make it one morning as a surprise.

    To serve: Put it into a water glass so your child can see the layers.

  5. Sticks ‘n mud: celery sticks and nut butter

    Celery sticks are not regular breakfast food, but it is healthy kid food, so having some peanut butter and celery on hand (both last forever in the frig!) will offer your child something healthy to snack on at school on days when breakfast isn’t enough. For the child whose imagination best whets the appetite, add raisins to make “ants on a log” or pieces of banana for “sleeping slugs.”

    To serve: Place them face to face to prevent smearing messes and tuck away in small baggies or plastic containers.

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