Recipe: Healthy and hearty breakfast choices for your family

by Julie Snyder

healthy family breakfastWhether you're trying to get the family off to work and school or planning to spend a lazy weekend together, fitting in a healthy and hearty breakfast can be a challenge.

Breakfast is like a gift that keeps giving. Studies show that starting the day off with a good meal gives everyone a boost. People who eat a healthy breakfast accomplish more, think better and make wiser choices.

Healthy breakfast choices for the whole family

You're convinced that breakfast's important, but what kind is best? The ideal breakfast has lots of fiber and whole grains, a helping of protein and good fat, with little added sugar.

Hot off the griddle

Your child might love French toast sticks. Maybe you'd rather whip up a batch of pancakes and make smiley face or Mickey Mouse pancakes.

Scrumptious Gluten-Free Oatmeal Pancakes -- so tasty everyone loves them
Easy pancakes -- so simple one of the kids can make them

Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. Add bacon, ham or sausage or a vegetarian substitute to add a bit more protein.

We love eggs!

Breakfast foods can be low in protein. Eggs give your meal a protein boost. You can scramble, fry or boil them or you can dress them up a bit:

✓ A Spinach and Herb Quiche or Smoked Ham, Leek and Gruyere Quiche could be perfect this weekend.
✓ Pop baked eggs in the oven to cook
✓ Tantalize their senses and lure them to the table with Savory Scrambled Egg Muffins.

While they bake, pop bread in the toaster and make a fruit salad, orange "flowers" with a strawberry center or a fruity kebab for a meal sure to please and satisfy.

Ready and waiting

If getting food ready early in the day poses an insurmountable obstacle, get it started the night before or reheat last night's leftovers.

Slow cooker steel-cut oatmeal with apples and cinnamon, ready to dish up
✓ Reheat slices of hearty pizza in the microwave

Meals in under five minutes

Even if your routine usually keeps chaos at bay, an unexpected event can upset plans, like getting breakfast on the table. Whether the culprit is a power outage or a misplaced shoe, a fast and easy breakfast can save the day. Turn bananas, peanut butter and chocolate into a two-minute smoothie or try one of these ideas:

Easy breakfast sandwich
Fruit and veggie smoothie
Homemade instant oatmeal

Grab and go meals

Some mornings, you may not even have five minutes. Make and freeze or store serving sized packages. Pull one out and head through the door with a "grab and go" meal.

Trail mix balls and an apple
Breakfast cookies with a string cheese and a banana

What's your family's favorite breakfast? Have you changed the recipe to up its nutritional value?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.