There is a sizable gap between the amount of recommended whole grains and the amount children are actually consuming. In fact, a recent large-scale study found that only 3% of boys and 2.4% of girls were meeting the daily goal of three 1 oz. servings of whole grains*.The newly released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half of our grains should be whole grains so for most children, this amounts to three daily servings.
Breakfast is an ideal time to introduce your child to healthy whole grains and get started on those three daily servings. Especially since March is National Nutrition Month! Simple solutions include whole grain breads, muffins, waffles and pancakes.
There are a number of delicious whole grain pancake/waffle mixes on the market and these can save time on those mad dash mornings. There is so much you can do with these mixes, including adding other fun ingredients. Incorporating applesauce for some of the liquid, stirring in blueberries or adding grated carrots or zucchini all add to the nutrition and the fun. To add more protein, you can add an extra egg or incorporate yogurt or milk as part of the liquid.
Children love to get in on the action when it comes to making homemade waffles or pancakes. Ask them to help with simple measuring, stirring and grating. They can even come up with clever names for their creations. Carrot pancakes become “bunny rabbit cakes” and blueberry waffles turn into “smurf waffles.” When children are part of the process, they are much more likely to sit down and enjoy their creations.
Other fantastic options include “make ahead” muffins, Hearty Energy Bars, and Butternut Softies that incorporate whole grains such as oatmeal, whole wheat flour, or whole corn meal.
The Home Baking Association is a great resource for recipes, tips, videos and more!
*Source: Ning, DR; Labarthe, CM et al. Status of Cardiovascular Health in US Children Up to 11 Years of Age. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 2015: 8 164-171
This article was contributed by Connie Evers, a child nutrition expert, mom of three, and the author of How to Teach Nutrition to Kids- a book used in thousands of schools throughout the world as a framework for nutrition education.