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Get creative with breakfast for a healthy meal for your child

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Whether it's school, camp or a day adventure, getting up in the morning is a scene every parent dreads. The alarm goes off; the kids pull up their covers and refuse to get up. As the kids finally rise and decide what to wear, it's time to head to the breakfast table. Whether breakfast is eaten at home or in the car, it is important for your child's performance. Breakfast jump-starts the brain and keeps adults and children alert throughout the morning. After eight to ten hours without food, the body is essentially a cold furnace waiting to be fueled. A good breakfast should include.

-A serving of protein-rich food, such as low-fat milk or yogurt, cheese, or peanut butter.
-A food rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain cereal, bread, or muffins.
-A food rich in vitamin C such as an orange, grapefruit, or strawberries.
-A small amount of fat.

Special containers make mealtime a special treat for the young child. Use clean egg cartons and fill each section with a finger food. Or fill an ice cream cone with snacks other than ice cream. Try foods such as cubed cheese, peeled apple slices, or cereal. Your youngster may find this on-the-go breakfast fun while carpooling your older children. The almighty juice boxes and bags can help to wean your toddler from his bottle. Start by filling his bottle only with water and later, let him drink juice with a straw from the box or bag. This is a pleasant diversion for your child and a convenience for you because these containers can be carried easily in the stroller or car.

Instead of serving your child plain hot cereal, set out a few small bowls of toppings from which she can choose. For instance, try yogurt, applesauce, apple butter, fruit spreads, chopped nuts, dates, raisins, fresh fruit, or granola. Your child many want to add just one topping or she might choose to mix several of them on top of her cereal to experience some new and different tastes. Some of these toppings can also be used to add creative interest to cold cereals with nutrition along the way.

Keeping in mind that creativity often means doing something in a new way, you can give your child's breakfast toast a "new look" by using a cookie cutter to make them heart shaped. This also boosts self-esteem by sending her a "you are special" message. Another way to do some creative personalizing is to form your child's initials with batter when you are cooking pancakes. Or use ketchup to squeeze an "I love you", a heart shape or her initials onto cooked hash browns. Having fun in the kitchen now should bring a love of cooking later.

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