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School starts back this week, be sure to start your day off right

ABC, as easy as 1-2-3! School will start soon for you and me kid!

This little ditty is dancing through my mind now as children prepare to start the new school year this week. Can you believe it? Where did the summer go?

Children, parents and teachers are all excited about it. Some children are so excited that they are not conscious of their surroundings – including ongoing traffic. Let’s remember to slow it down when we see children walking or running around their schools and along the streets – especially in the mornings and after school. Also, be mindful of school buses that have FLASHING LIGHTS, and have STOPPED in the middle of the street or roadway. This usually means they are picking up or letting children off the buses. Remember, ALL LANES of traffic (going both ways) should come to a full STOP. Wait until buses turn off their FLASHING LIGHTS AND put their extended STOP SIGN DOWN, BEFORE continuing your drive. This simple act can save a child’s precious life.

The Importance of Breakfast

With school being back in full swing, there’s nothing better than starting the school year with breakfast. Starting your day without breakfast is like trying to drive a car without gas. It’s next to impossible.

Why is Breakfast so important to children and adults? It’s elementary, my dear. Breakfast simply means…Breaking-the-Fast.

By the time you wake up in the morning, it has been 8-12 hours since your last meal. When you are told, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” take note. By morning, your energy levels are low. Breakfast provides your body and brain with the energy it needs to start the day.   

Eating breakfast improves your overall health and well being. You will be less tired and sleepy in the mid-morning hours. Teachers have documented that children who eat breakfast are more creative, do better in class, perform better on tests and have fewer behavior problems. Adults who eat breakfast tend to do better at work, snack less and get more nutrients each day than adults who do not eat breakfast.

Eating breakfast first thing in the morning, before school or leaving for the day for work can be a challenge. At my house, breakfast needs to be quick. The goal for breakfast is to include at least three food groups. One of the most popular breakfast meals at my house is pancakes. My daughter loves to make them. They are easy to prepare and can be topped with many different fruits/toppings to meet you/your family’s tastes. In addition, leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen and reheated in the microwave or toaster for a quick breakfast or snack. They can also be used as a part of a breakfast sandwich/wrap. Top a pancake with peanut butter and wrap it around a banana…or slice the banana in thin slices and add a second pancake for a top (making a sandwich)…I like to add cinnamon too. If pancakes are not your thing, other quick breakfast ideas that include three food groups are listed below. Adding a fruit or veggie to your breakfast is a great way to add extra nutrients to your diet and give you extra energy for the day. Here are a few healthy suggestions:

• Breakfast parfait. Layer low-fat yogurt, fruit and nuts and/or granola.

• Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a piece of fruit

• Egg, fresh tomato slice and cheese sandwich

• Oatmeal topped with fruit and nuts

• Crackers and cheese with a piece of fruit

• Granola bar, banana and milk

• Frozen waffles or pancakes topped with peanut butter and fruit

• Scrambled eggs wrapped in a tortilla and topped with cheese

• Egg sandwich with spinach and cheese

• Power Breakfast: Mix fresh, canned or dried fruit, low-fat yogurt and cereal

• Breakfast Pizza: Top an English muffin or bagel with tomato sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese and mushrooms (you can use any vegetable). Heat in a toaster or microwave.

• Shake It Up: Put a cup of ice, one cup of fresh fruit, ½ cup of orange juice, and ½ cup low-fat yogurt in a blender. Blend until smooth.

• Low-fat milk and cereal, toasted cheese sandwich and orange juice, even a leftover slice of pizza

• Take a breakfast to go: Take string cheese, low-fat yogurt, dry cereal in a bag or a banana will make a nutritious and delicious breakfast.

All these great breakfast ideas and more will help you use your imagination and make it through the morning. Just be sure to include some protein to help your breakfast last until your next meal.

Tips on making breakfast a priority:

Breakfast is also important because it provides about a quarter of our daily calories and nutrients. A nutritious breakfast is exactly what a growing child or teenager needs, without it they are unlikely to make up this nutritional loss through other meals/snacks during the day.

Children may be able to get breakfast at school – check with the school food service to find out if it is available in your area.