Do you have days where everyone in your family wants to eat something different? One of my favorite fun solutions for family mealtimes are “make-your-own” buffets: make your own taco bar, turkey burger bar, pizza topping bar and more. Don’t just stop at dinner with this creative solution for picky eaters of all ages — breakfast is also a perfect match.
With kids heading back to school, serving a healthy, fun breakfast that kids love is an important start to each day. A nutrition-packed breakfast can help with focus, concentration and behavior at school. Topping my list for a breakfast the entire family can enjoy is a yogurt bar! Yogurt contains calcium and protein and most contain vitamin D, which are important for strong bones and a developing brain. Many yogurts also contain live active cultures and some contain probiotics, which are important for a healthy immune system and good gut health. Even my pickiest patients (and my own boys) love choosing which toppings and mix-ins they want to add. There are many delicious and nutritious options for all ages. It’s also something easy to prepare the night before by putting each item in a small container (either on the counter or in the fridge). In the morning just remove the lids, line them up and let everyone enjoy! Setting the table the night before can also save precious morning minutes that can be spent getting more sleep, or helping kids get ready for the day ahead.
What ingredients do you need? Begin with your base of one or two yogurt flavors. I like plain Stonyfield Organic YoBaby® Whole Milk Yogurt, and a flavored Stonyfield Organic yogurt (vanilla or fruit). Then set up your mix-ins, perhaps in cute little bowls or storage containers.
Here are a few options and age specific suggestions for nutritious and delicious yogurt bar mix-ins and toppings:
- 1. Peanut butter, almond butter, chopped or whole nuts
- 2. Granola and/or dry whole grain cereal
- 3. Pureed, smashed or whole berries (you can use frozen organic berries when not in season)
- 4. Other fresh fruit such as sliced banana, diced mango or peaches (also great to buy frozen off-season)
- 5. Dried fruit such as raisins, diced mango, cranberries and plums (great for constipated kiddos)
6 to 12 month-olds: Choose plain or flavored organic yogurt made especially for babies, like Stonyfield Organic YoBaby whole milk organic yogurt. Try it by itself initially (babies love it) and then try mixing in a creamy organic nut butter, like peanut butter. Research shows that early introduction to peanut products can decrease the chance that your child will develop a peanut allergy later in life. Pureed fruit also makes a healthy and flavorful addition. Pureed prunes are a great option for babies who skip having a dirty diaper when starting solid food. I recommend getting infants and kids of all ages used to eating prunes, as they are helpful for constipation, potty-training and preventing tummy aches!
1 to 3 year-olds: Toddlers often like picking their own toppings and self-feeding yogurt, though of course they often still need help getting it to their mouth. Berries and other soft fruit such as sliced bananas are perfect for this age group. They may want to sprinkle their favorite whole grain cereal on top as well. Over age one, you can also drizzle a little honey on top if you desire, although it makes for sticky fingers!
4 to 8 year-olds: Older kids can branch out to whole nuts (another healthy source of fat and protein for the school day ahead), whole grain cereal and sliced fresh fruit. Getting servings of fruit (or veggies) in your kids in the morning is a slam dunk to helping them each the 5 servings of fruit and veggies they need each day.
With some creativity and often only 10 minutes of prep time, your children (and you) can have a healthy, delicious, nutrient-rich breakfast to start the day. What could be better than that?