Step Away From The Pop-tarts

By Teresa Iqbal

June 28, 2016 6 min read

It's a widely known belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Making a filling and nutritious breakfast a part of your family's daily routine will help you all enjoy long-lasting energy and improved concentration (among other benefits) and stave off junk-food cravings, leading to a more healthy and productive day. Prioritizing breakfast -- a healthy one at that -- sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, making a healthy breakfast is challenging for many families on rushed mornings. But have no fear: There are ways to enjoy a satisfying, nutritious breakfast amidst the morning hustle and bustle.

Some mornings time just slips away. The alarm clock doesn't go off; one child is sick; the other is scrambling to finish homework. It's a juggling act just to get everyone in the car and make sure none of the kids are wearing two left shoes. On these sorts of days, the quality of breakfast often suffers. Quick, pre-made breakfasts (Jimmy Dean Delights, anyone?) and other common go-to items, such as cereals, toaster pastries and even some granola bars, are almost always processed and filled with ingredients that you can't even pronounce. Not only are processed foods detrimental to health over time but these foods don't provide true nutritional boosts. Sure, your stomach will stop growling, and you'll get a momentary burst of energy. But you will crash later and have to find another pick-me-up.

Here are some healthy -- and quick! -- breakfast options for the whole family to enjoy. These will get your engines revving and ready to take on the day by charge.

*Not Your Mom's Oatmeal

Overnight oats are a somewhat recent phenomenon, a real delicious one at that. This breakfast option can be packed with healthy ingredients, and it requires minimal effort. You'll prep these oats the night before, leaving you with more time to sit back and enjoy your coffee or be with the kids before heading out for the day.

Simply mix oats (whole or rolled) together with your beverage of choice (water, milk, almond milk, yogurt, etc.) and a variety of toppings in a container, and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Your topping options are truly endless, so you won't get bored. Fruit, granola, shredded coconut, dark chocolate chips, chia seeds and nuts are all great options.

The best part about this dish is there's hardly and prep and no cooking or cleanup. It's a great grab-and-go option. For even less work, mix in frozen fruit instead of fresh fruit. It will defrost by morning, and you won't have to wash and chop like you'd have to with fresh fruit. Another tip: It's best to add crunchy toppings -- particularly nuts -- just before eating instead of letting them sit overnight.

*The McHealthy McMuffin

Who doesn't love a McDonald's Egg McMuffin or sausage and egg breakfast sandwich? Unfortunately, almost every pre-made breakfast sandwiches you can buy are filled with tons of sodium -- often half of the daily recommended intake -- and fat. You can make a homemade version pretty quick, and you'd be surprised to learn what an incredibly versatile meal it can be.

Pop a whole-grain English muffin in the toaster. While it toasts, fry up an egg and grab a few toppings, such as arugula, feta cheese, bell peppers or hummus. Once the muffin is done, layer all the ingredients on the muffin. You have a wholesome, filling meal complete with fiber, protein, greens and deliciousness!

*Mini Frittatas

To save even more time, try baking mini egg sandwiches in the oven, sans muffin. Scramble a few eggs, and mix in your favorite omelet toppings. Lean breakfast proteins are great to use here (turkey bacon, turkey sausage or tofu). Add a pinch of your choice of shredded cheese. Grease a muffin pan, and pour an even amount of the egg mixture into each tin. Bake in the oven until cooked through, but not dry. Once they cool, keep a few out for the next day or two, and then freeze the rest in a large zip-close bag. Pull one out as needed, and simply heat it up in the microwave. Be sure to cover it in a moist paper towel while heating to keep it from drying out.

Both of these eggcelent options will bring your morning prep time down significantly.

*Tons of Toast

Toast is perhaps one of the most underrated breakfast food choices. It truly is a wonderful base for a multitude of healthy toppings. Choose a whole-grain loaf of bread. (The first ingredient should be whole grain or whole wheat, not enriched flour.) Seek out a loaf that also contains a decent amount of fiber -- at least 4 grams. Just as with the other breakfast options mentioned above, your options are endless here, which makes prep less stressful. Some healthy and delicious combinations include tomato, a fried egg, mozzarella and spinach or basil. Avocado, tomato, a chopped hard-boiled egg and a dash of salt and pepper is another tasty combination. If your sweet tooth is particularly awake one morning, almond butter, and thinly sliced apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon should do the trick. This combo offers an impressive amount of protein, fiber, a touch of sweetness and blood sugar control (from the cinnamon), guaranteeing you'll remain full and satisfied for quite a while.

As you can see, beginning your day on a healthy note doesn't need to be stressful or timely. Perhaps most importantly, it can also be as delicious, if not more, as other quick, but processed and unhealthy options. To make these meals, all you need is your creativity and about as much time as it takes to toast a Pop-Tart. It's time to go convenient and get crafty in the kitchen.

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