I don’t talk about breakfast much because, you know, it isn’t the most wine friendly of meals. Well, it probably could be but it’s generally frowned upon to pour yourself a honking glass of vino at 7 am before driving the kids to school, so I try not to encourage it.
The truth of the matter is, I don’t really like breakfast. Pancakes and waffles taste great on the way down, but then make me feel awful for the rest of the day. I have an uneasy relationship with eggs. Do not start thinking about eggs too closely, because then you start thinking about how you could crack one and a baby chicken might fall out and…..GAH!!!!! I won’t eat one for a month now. My favorite breakfast is a thick slice of anadama bread, toasted, slathered with butter and then gobs of all-natural peanut butter, topped with thick slices of summer tomato with salt and pepper on top. Slip some bacon in there and you have breakfast heaven on earth. But honestly, that is seriously fattening and only worth the calories when the tomatoes are PERFECT.
Because I don’t like breakfast all that much I never really put much effort into it for the family. TJ pretty much only knows how to cook breakfast, so he is self-sufficient, and the kids were fine with a bowl of cereal or a (do not judge me) chocolate croissant, so why get up ten minutes earlier to do anything different?
But then two things happened. Jason got put on a gluten-free diet, and I learned that 4 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar. Given this, let’s look at Jason’s typical breakfast for the first five years of his life: YoKids yogurt and a chocolate croissant. 23 grams of sugar. 5.75 teaspoons of sugar. Before 7 am. With a lovely white flour glucose spike to boot. Only 4 grams of protein. At this point I’m basically shocked that he didn’t fail out of pre-school.
So I spent the summer thinking about breakfast, and protein, and I came to the conclusion that I was destroying our kids future. Maybe that’s drastic, but at the very least I was not sending them out the door with their engines stoked up and ready to burn all day long. It was time for a change. I had to remake breakfast.
Here’s what I did. I started making my own almond milk. It’s literally almonds and water – you soak them over night and then blend them up with fresh water the next morning, and strain it through a cheese cloth. I’ve been using the Against All Grain recipe, but there are hundreds on line that you can try. The point is, it’s EASY and there are no added sugars or preservatives. I put it into a mason jar and it makes me feel like a hippie and I love it.
I then make a giant protein smoothie with the almond milk, coconut water, Greek 2% yogurt (I switched from 0% to 2% because the 2% has more protein), fruit, and protein powder. Yes, there is sugar in this – but all naturally occurring sugars. I would prefer a green smoothie for myself, but I haven’t gotten the kids there yet, and this is all about one size fits all at the moment.
I also started making homemade sausage patties. It’s just organic ground pork and some seasonings – a touch of honey, sage, red pepper flakes…honestly, you can do no wrong here in terms of additions. I love that these have no casing, because I get a little grossed out by sausage casing (see egg comment above…if you start thinking too hard about that sausage casing…GAH!!!). Add in a gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free zucchini muffin, and you’ve got one hell of a pleasing, protein-packed breakfast.
It’s great to reform the first meal of the day, but what have the results been?
1) The kids have gone from snacking all morning to having one small snack before lunch. They used to nag us ENDLESSLY for snacks all day long. This has basically stopped completely. Noah rarely even needs a snack in the morning – I still make him have one, but he’s not desperate for it. Jason eats when he’s bored, but I’m going to leave that for his therapist to conquer when he turns 30.
2) They’ve put on muscle. Noah is really, really skinny. Like scary skinny to the point of seeing the cartilage between his ribs. Since he’s been eating this way he’s put on muscle, and his frame is growing and broadening. He seeks out protein throughout the day, as well. In general, they both seem so much healthier.
3) WAY fewer tantrums. I know a lot about food and the way it can affect a person’s (okay, my personal) behavior, but I turned a blind eye to their tantrums and behavior as it related to food because it was easier to pretend they were just being kids. No, they were on the sugar and processed carb roller coaster from hell. Tantrums still happen, but TJ and I think they are more even-keeled and happier.
Against All Grain has been a great resource for me in reshaping our breakfast routine. I encourage you to look at her blog or book if you are facing the same struggle in the morning!
Need more proof for a breakfast revolution of your own? Look at these boys, ready to take on the world!
If you have any great family breakfast ideas – kid-friendly and gluten-free – please send them my way. Next up – LUNCH REVOLUTION!