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Starting early: Breakfast habits begin with parents

Dietitian Becky Varner advises parents to make breakfast a part of daily lives for their family's sake.
BY BECKY VARNER, For The Oklahoman Published: September 3, 2013

Eating a balanced breakfast is important for children to do their best in school.

Research shows children who eat breakfast are better able to pay attention and perform problem-solving tasks, tend to have better school attendance, less tardiness, fewer hunger-induced stomach aches midmorning than those who do not eat breakfast and they are also more likely to meet daily nutrient requirements.

Children who eat breakfast may have better ability to concentrate and better muscle coordination if the morning started with a nutritious breakfast. Breakfast provides many key nutrients needed for children to grow and develop and those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. And yet breakfast is the meal that is most often skipped by children. Many are not eating a nutritious breakfast every morning.

There are many reasons children do not eat breakfast because they don't like traditional breakfast foods, might not make time for it in the morning or simply forget.

So the impetus falls on the parents to ensure children get in the habit of making breakfast a part of daily life.

Leading by example is the best way to teach children to eat a healthful breakfast. Plan the morning routine to allow time for breakfast. A great way for family members to start the day is to enjoy breakfast together as a morning routine. Insist that children get off to a good start by eating breakfast every morning.

A balanced breakfast does not have to be a traditional one. It does need to provide essential nutrients like protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. The easiest way to do this is to include foods from different food groups. The food groups include fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy. A slice of leftover Canadian bacon, mushroom and cheese pizza with a side dish of pineapple tidbits is not a traditional breakfast but it does include a variety of nutrients and includes ingredients from various food groups. The Canadian bacon is from the protein group and the cheese is from the dairy group. The crust is a grain although it is not a whole grain unless made with whole grain flour. The pineapple is a serving from the fruit group.

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Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

in a Slow Cooker

This Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal can be prepared in a slow cooker the night before so it will be ready to eat first thing in the morning.

Makes 4 one cup servings


2 cups water

2 cups skim milk

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups diced gala or Fuji apples

1 cup steel-cut uncooked oats

¼ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup golden raisins


• Put water, milk, salt and cinnamon in a 5 to 6 cup slow cooker. (To prevent ingredients from sticking to slow cooker it can be sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray before adding ingredients). Stir ingredients.

• Add apples and oats. Stir to mix and cover with lid.

• Turn on low and cook overnight for approximately 9 to 10 hours.

• In the morning remove lid and stir.

• For each serving, place 1 cup oatmeal in each bowl and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon walnuts and 2 tablespoons raisins.

• Nutrition information: This recipe makes 4 servings and each serving contains approximately 352 calories and 8 grams of fat.

Becky Varner will teach Learn with Lunch cooking classes featuring Pulled Chicken on a Bun, Slaw with Sunflower Seeds and Oatmeal Apple Raisin Drops at noon Sept. 10 at Buy For Less, 3501 NW Expressway and noon Sept. 17 at Buy For Less, 10011 SE 15 St. in Midwest City. She will do Learn with Brunch featuring Breakfast Burritos and Oatmeal Apple Raisin Drops at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 18. at Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell in Edmond. Call 302-6273, ext. 332 for reservations.


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