The 12 days of breakfast! The delightful little reason that I’ve had a Christmas song in my head for weeks in the middle of Summer.
For 12 days in a row Ellen, owner and dietitian at Square One Wellness posted a photo of her daughter’s unprocessed, super simple breakfasts to Instagram along with an easy to absorb nutrition tip. Ellen and I are writing a cookbook together so I know first hand she is full of whole food recipe goodness. This 12 days of breakfast series was a simplified version of her recipe genius.
Breakfast is a toughy for me, and according to the families I work with I am not alone. My family ends up in breakfast ruts way too often (we make veggie infused waffles or pancakes like 3 days a week per special request from Ruthie, age 4). A lot of families skip breakfast altogether or opt for quick carbs as a simple solution to eating on the go.
I know on-the-go breakfast ideas are popular, but Ellen and I are big on really trying to make time to sit down to eat, especially for young toddlers. The benefits of family meals are endless and they don’t only apply to dinner. Plus it’s nice to drive a normal car and not a box of crumbs on wheels.
Photos and accompanying words written by Ellen Gipson and shared with permission (thanks Ellen!). For information on booking an in home nutrition consultation with Ellen or attending a baby-led weaning workshop register here.
Avocado toast, strawberries, hard boiled egg
On the first day of breakfast we build a balanced plate. Follow this easy 1, 2, 3 method when planning your family’s meals:
Pick a protein/iron source
flavor with fruit/veg
add extra energy
Quaker Oatmeal Squares with whole milk, partially thawed frozen blueberries, and chopped pecans
On the second day of breakfast we’re already eating cereal in a bowl! That’s ok, it’s often a toddler favorite (and great practice for fine motor skills), but more frequently choose those with less added sugar and artificial colorings. Think of cereal as a base layer - what can you add to it for more satisfaction, satiety, and flavor? More fruits, nuts, seeds, etc adds color = more nutrition. We love using semi-frozen fruit in cereal because it keeps the milk super cold, and can transform the milk into beautiful (natural) colors. At what age did you introduce nuts? (and remember to keep them finely chopped for little ones!”
Fried egg, half of a roasted sweet potato with butter and cinnamon, half of a frozen waffle
On the third day of breakfast it’s dad’s turn to cook. You may find that your toddler eats differently when someone else is preparing the meals, but learning to be flexible in food appearances and prep methods is an essential part of development. Try to be creative and serve staple foods slightly differently to keep things interesting.
Homemade sweet rolls, chopped pecans, raspberries
On the fourth day of breakfast you have a special treat. In today’s feeding/eating culture there is so much of an “all or nothing” approach regarding the nutritional quality of ones diet. Perfection is unsustainable and unnecessary. As parents teaching our children HOW to approach foods is equally important as teaching WHAT foods to eat. All foods provide us with energy, some foods we eat often for sustainability and growth, others we eat on occasion simply for pleasure.
Black beans, hard fried egg, sliced avocado
On the fifth day of breakfast we’re cleaning out the fridge. Who says breakfast foods have to only be sweet starches? Offering non-traditional foods in the mornings is a great way to expand your breakfast repertoire. Utilizing leftover veggies like beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squashed/zucchini pair great with most breakfast proteins. Breakfasts that include veggies are a great strategy when you have a busy day and know that lunch or dinner might come from a bag and not be the highest nutritional quality. There is no formal definition of “breakfast foods” so don’t limit yourself (or your children) to Pop-tarts and granola bars. Make your own rules, establish your own family norms and eat freely!
Diced kiwi, whole fat cottage cheese, buttered toast
On the sixth day of breakfast you keep it really simple. If you follow many other BLW pages/groups on social media you may begin to feel overwhelmed and out of your league when it comes to mealtimes and recipe ideas. Don’t. You do you! The ultimate goal in this feeding philosophy is teaching your children to eat (and enjoy) real, whole foods that exist in Nature.
Scrambled egg, best banana bread (recipe in cookbook coming soon!), sliced cherry tomatoes with basil and olive oil.
On the seventh day of breakfast, rest, and eat something you grew. Having a small home garden is a great way to get toddlers involved in the kitchen and keep them excited and engaged in mealtimes. No matter the size of your home or yard, there is something you can grow! Staple veggies like lettuce and tomatoes can grow easily in a small pot or planter, and fresh herbs are a beautiful indoor or outdoor accent, as well as a great asset in the kitchen! If possible, let your toddlers pot, plant, tend, water, and eventually harvest something with you.
Do you have a home garden? What’s your favorite thing to grow?
Thinly sliced apples, natural peanut butter, raisins, and crumbled granola bar
On the eighth day of breakfast somehow you’re already fifteen minutes late. Seriously, how is it August already? With the school year quickly approaching, for many of you, it’s back to reality, and your scratch-cookin summer dreams are over. It is a great strategy to keep some nutrition-packed “go-to” meals in the back if your mind for when you have ZERO time to prep, plan, or cook, like this quick apple snack plate. Keep in mind our 1-2-3 formula from the Day 1 post for building a balanced plate.
White cheddar asparagus quiche, pitted medjool dates, roasted acorn squash
On the ninth day of breakfast you’re trying something new. As adults, we often get in a rut of eating the same 30 foods week after week. Causes are completely valid - lack of time, cooking skills, money, and sometimes just zero motivation. However, as parents striving to raise adventurous eaters, our most impactful responsibility is to model adventurous eating ourselves.
Blueberry muffin (boxed mix with lots of extra fresh berries!), colby jack cheese slices, more blueberries
On the tenth day of breakfast you’re adding adding fresh to convenience. During busy working days it’s often unrealistic to make a scratch breakfast or supper seven days a week. Utilizing some pre-made mealtime ingredients is a practical way to get a meal on the table. Whether it’s a frozen burrito, a package of pasta, can of soup or a basic muffin mix get creative on ways to add nutrition (fresh ingredients) to it!
Whole wheat baguette, nutella, mandarin oranges and tart cherries
On the eleventh day of breakfast you’ll start to think about food differently. Years before becoming a parent I read the book, French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon and it was so refreshing. Everything. just. made. SO. MUCH. sense. It tells a personal story of a family adjusting from American culture to French, specifically focusing on how we feed our children. The main difference - French Kids Eat Everything! Children are born with the amazing ability to regulate their appetites and stop eating when they’re full - even if we (parents) think it’s enough. Follow their cues. Led them lead.
Egg sandwich - white cheddar and fried egg on brioche, chunky avocado dip, sliced mango
On the twelfth day of breakfast you’re eating as a family. I cannot overemphasize the importance of establishing family mealtime routines and the amazing bond that it will create between your little gang. Make mealtime a special time; the time to share the day’s adventures, funny stories, struggles, and goals for the future. And for parents, it’s our chance to model healthy eating behaviors . If you take can away one overarching point from this whole breakfast series it is: One meal for the whole family. Prepare one balanced and tasty meal for the family, and let them understand that everyone has the right to refuse or choose what they will eat, but alternatives are not an option.