Breakfast makes cents

It’s that time of year. As the summer months draw to a close, schools are busy preparing to welcome back students for another year of learning. One key to helping your child succeed in the classroom is to make breakfast a daily routine. Research shows kids who eat breakfast are more likely to have higher test scores, improved concentration and healthier body weights. The energy and nutrients in a healthy breakfast help the body wake up after a night’s sleep, starting the day off the right way.

For many families, busy mornings are the biggest barrier to breakfast. Finding foods that are both nutritious and easy to prepare is key. Ready in under five minutes and simple enough that kids can prepare it themselves, toast is an ideal breakfast choice. Involving your kids in meal preparation builds confidence, independence and a foundation of cooking skills they can rely on as they continue to grow. Assembling toast with toppings takes only a few ingredients. Bread is a basic staple that costs only a few cents per slice. Compare this cost to that of ready-to-eat breakfast pastries, which cost nearly twice as much, yet contain less protein, fiber and whole grains.

Another budget-friendly breakfast option is cereal. Cereal is one of the most traditional breakfast foods out there and you can prepare in it in less than one minute and for under one dollar. There are several health benefits to eating breakfast as part of a regular routine. Eating cereal can add nutrients such as whole grains, fiber, calcium, iron and B vitamins, which are difficult to make up for in a day if breakfast is skipped. Research even shows that cereal eaters consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber than non-cereal eaters.

Not only is cereal great for a better breakfast, but think outside the cereal box and try any of the following…

Bowl of cereal as a snack between meals

On-the-go snack option

Part of trail-mix recipes

Topping on your yogurt or cottage cheese

Substitute for croutons in your favorite lettuce salad

When I have time to bake, muffins are my go-to breakfast item because I often eat on the run. This recipe was featured in the most recent Seasons magazine and is perfect this time of year when zucchini is available in gardens.

Zucchini Muffins

Serves 24 (1 muffin each)

Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Back to School 2014

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 14 minutes

All you need:

Nonstick cooking spray

1 c. all-purpose flour

c. almond flour

1 c. packed brown sugar

2/4 c. oat or wheat bran

3 tbsp. chia or flax seeds

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

c. buttermilk

1/3 c. cinnamon applesauce

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 c. grated zucchini, drained (about 2 medium)

Chopped walnuts, optional

All you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat mini muffin pan with cooking spray; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, oat bran, chia seeds, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon; set aside.

3. In another large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in zucchini, mixing just until combined. Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Do not over-stir.

4. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. If desired, top with walnuts. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 5. 5. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins to a wire rack. Cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.

Nutrition information per serving: 110 Calories, 3g Protein, 3g Fat, 0g Saturated Fat, 150mg Sodium, 20g Carbohydrate, 2g Fiber, 10g Sugar

Daily Nutritional Values: 2% vitamin A, 4% calcium, 6% vitamin C, 6% iron

The information is not intended as medical advice. Consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Katie Wilhelmi is a registered dietitian at the New Ulm Hy-Vee.

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