Kid friendly high protein low sugar breakfasts.... without eggs.
May 18, 2015 6:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to nudge the kids (4.5 and 18 months) towards lower sugar/processed carb breakfasts. Protein is good, fat is fine, we're not counting calories - one's majorly underweight and the other's a toddler. "Nutritionally dense" is what we're aiming for. But there are snowflakes. Always with the snowflakes.

My husband - the breakfast-server - has been in the habit of feeding the kids Special K with strawberries. It's their preferred breakfast cereal, but has approximately zero nutritional value for little kids who need to grow. I'm trying to think of some better options that can be prepped ahead (or very quickly). We do not have an excess of time in the mornings.

Problem is, Micropanda's a picky eater and Nanopanda's allergic to eggs. (Not in all forms - baked goods are fine - but scrambled eggs and the like are verboten.) Micropanda generally dislikes foods that are too mixed or have unidentifiable ingredients. For the moment, he's doing ok with toaster waffles and a scrambled egg or piece of bacon, but that doesn't help Nanopanda. Also I'd like to keep the sugar at a reasonable level (added sugar, that is; I'm fine with fruit), so pancake syrup EVERY day seems a bit much.

I'm kind of coming up short on the idea front. What kind of awesome, quick, healthy breakfasts do you feed your kids?
posted by telepanda to Food & Drink (72 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Do they like sausage? I buy gluten-free pre-cooked frozen sausage patties and bake them in the oven. There are no oven instructions on the bag, but here's what I do: put them on a cookie sheet (still frozen), stick them in a cold oven and set the oven for 350F. 15 minutes later flip them for 5 minutes to brown the other side. I start them before I get in the shower, then throw on my robe and flip them. Totally hands off protein for breakfast.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:54 AM on May 18, 2015

Peanut butter or almond butter? Spread some on a toaster waffle and top with banana.
posted by shornco at 6:57 AM on May 18, 2015 [8 favorites]

Do they like cheese? My dad always served us breakfast cereal with slices of cheese on the side for protein. Doesn't remove the carbs, but it is a quick fix.
posted by snorkmaiden at 6:58 AM on May 18, 2015

Maybe scrambled tofu would work instead of scrambled eggs?
posted by fifthrider at 7:00 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a VERY picky, underweight kid...

Baked oatmeal soaked with full fat yogurt? If baked eggs aren't a problem I'd add lots of extra eggs. When I make lemon bread I add LOTS of eggs and it doesn't seem to affect the outcome. It's easy to make 2 pans when making a batch so you can modify it for each kid. Who ever will eat berries can have one with lots of frozen berries baked in.

I make french toast with 100% whole wheat bread and soak the bread for a long time. I some times get 2 eggs in one piece of french toast. Sprinkle some powdered sugar and skip the syrup (although it seems real male syrup has some real benefits and we often use that).

I also make my own nut butter cookies. I add barely any sugar and use almond flour. I think they are dry but the kid east them. (I mean cookies for breakfast are great).

I've always wanted to find some killer caloric healthful muffin recipe but haven't located it. My kid won't do smoothies but there are so many options there....
posted by ReluctantViking at 7:02 AM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

What about full fat geek yogurt with muesli or granola and berries? If plain yogurt is too tart, you could mix some vanilla extract into the vat of yogurt to avoid buying the sweetened flavored stuff. Or what about oatmeal made with whole milk and nuts? It's surprisingly high in protein, and with nuts you can pack more calories in. Turkey and cheese roll-ups? Apple slices with peanut butter and raisins?
posted by Yellow Silver Maple at 7:04 AM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

My mom was always a fan of dinner leftovers as breakfast food. Cold pizza and spaghetti with meatballs were our favorites.
posted by corey flood at 7:06 AM on May 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

We go through boom-or-bust periods of breakfast smoothies around here. Yogurt makes a good protein to add to some frozen fruit and a bit of whole milk. You could use whey protein too.
posted by jquinby at 7:07 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nuts and nut spreads and dairy have protein. Or why not just have more bacon?

My kiddo eats light in the morning and is usually fine with some fruit and maybe a piece of cheese, or a cheese stick. If your kids like them, lunch meats can also be eaten, or nuts. A box of raisins. Unless your kids wake up insanely hungry, you can try keeping it that simple. You can also make low-sugar smoothies.

We don't keep pancakes/waffles and syrup in our house, because really there's not much nutrition there and lots of sugar. He has them as special treats if we go out, once in a while.
posted by emjaybee at 7:08 AM on May 18, 2015

Full fat plain greek yogurt with honey and (homemade, nut-heavy) granola
Cottage cheese
Cream cheese and lox on toast/bagel
Smoothies - add yogurt and kale
posted by melissasaurus at 7:11 AM on May 18, 2015


about 1/4 of a sweet potato that's been boiled until mushy
1/2 cup oatmeal
a teaspoon or so of brown sugar
dash pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
dash salt
tiny sprinkle vanilla extract
add dairy until it reaches desired viscosity
microwave for 2 minutes


1 TBS Pb2 OR 1-2 TBS nut butter
1/2 cup oatmeal
add dairy until it reaches desired viscosity
microwave for 2 minutes
add a top layer of a low-sugar jam (requires a lot of label reading, but they're out there, generally not labeled as such) and/or fresh/frozen berries

You can really load the Pb2 or nut butter in there for extra protein. Peanut butter and jelly yogurt is also great; the Pb2 rehydrates in the yogurt perfectly.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:12 AM on May 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

Whole grain toast topped with smashed avocado? This is one my fav breakfasts and I find it very filling. (Plus, your children will feel so trendy...)
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:14 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I've had really minimal luck getting Micropanda to eat peanut butter or oatmeal. I actually had the peanut butter and banana waffle idea, but it just made him cry.

We do dish out slices of cheese and sometimes they get eaten. But, I'm looking to expand the repertoire. Keep the good ideas coming!

I do want to tempt him to eat as much as possible in the morning - the doctor has him on pediasure and the label on that stuff makes me want to cry, so the closer we can get him to eating enough to gain a smidgen of weight on his own, the better... (the pediasure is not given with meals so as to minimize the degree to which it replaces food).
posted by telepanda at 7:14 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cream cheese on strawberries?

I sometimes make Lemon Ricotta Muffins (I use cottage cheese if I don't have ricotta). For more savory muffins, I make plain or corn muffins with some crumbled bacon and little chunks of cheese in them. My son loves all of those as breakfast options, and they can be made the evening before.

There are also cottage cheese and/or cream cheese pancakes, but I'm not clear whether the eggs in those would be problematic for your kiddo. I like them because they'll keep in the fridge and can be reheated or rolled up and eaten cold. Because they're not fluffy, they don't soak up syrup, so a bit of syrup goes a long, long way (seconding that real maple syrup is the way to go here).

Thanks for this thread. I've been wanting some lower-carb ideas to offer for my son's near-constant request for snacks.
posted by whoiam at 7:20 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

My toddler has oatmeal with butter (or safflower oil or coconut oil) in the mornings with cut up pears most days. He loves pear slices and is getting really good with his spoon. We go with the Organic Scottish Oatmeal which is delicious and I really prefer the texture to normal flake oatmeal, but that is just a preference. At 6g of protein, it is a decent source!

He also loves french toast with mostly just bread and egg and butter, then a little drizzle of syrup. And breakfast sausage. We cut the sausage link in half or quarters length-wise to reduce the choking hazard and he loves it.

Or pan-fried ham in the morning, too.
posted by jillithd at 7:21 AM on May 18, 2015

smoothies.... berries, yogurt, peanut butter, a scoop of chocolate protein powder...

I think if they can't see the peanut butter its always worth a try...
posted by catspajammies at 7:24 AM on May 18, 2015

Hey, I don't know your kids, but some kids will eat stuff that they helped to make because they've sort of already bought into the idea of it.

Could you try making breakfast bars with your kids? if they're old enough to stir the mixture, it might be worth a go. You can find a ton of recipes and change them for your requirements. This is my favourite one, it has eggs but I've made it without, sometimes using mashed banana to help them hold together. No added sugar, low carb, plenty of protein from the nuts, let the kids choose which nuts to put in too.
posted by greenish at 7:24 AM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Cheese melted on toast in the toaster-oven? Add ham/sausage? It's like pizzaaa....
posted by aimedwander at 7:25 AM on May 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

My kids have been eating whole grain toaster waffles with ricotta. It's great with peanut butter or sliced almonds and just a touch of honey (but, of course, their favorite is with a little nutella).
posted by rebeccabeagle at 7:36 AM on May 18, 2015

Grilled cheese with bacon and tomato.
posted by AugustWest at 7:39 AM on May 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

My 4 year old and 18 month old (who is also allergic to eggs) would eat bacon or sausage for breakfast every morning if I let them. The older one likes to help cook, by which I mean push things around in the pan and remove them with tongs. Both of them LOVE Greek yogurt with honey, especially if the older one gets to drizzle his own honey. He doesn't like fruit or stuff mixed up with it, but yours might.

Breakfast is our least contentious meal, but at lunch/dinner when my older one is being especially picky we'll just give him a peanut butter sandwich or hummus with pita (the hummus must be totally homogenous and not have any visible pine nuts, pesto, or red pepper in it). Those usually go over OK.

We also just go ahead and feed the older one eggs and give something else to the younger one, who is much less of a picky eater at the moment. He mostly seems OK with that although he'll sometimes reach for the plate. That probably won't fly for too much longer but is working all right for the time being.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 7:46 AM on May 18, 2015

For minimum-fuss maximum-nutrient breakfasts, I'm a huge fan of breakfast toast. Buzzfeed has a decent list that may run a little adult-friendly, but if you know what your kids will/won't eat, it's pretty easy to mix and match toppings. Just use the healthiest bread they'll eat, top with something spreadable or mashable (hummus, almond butter, ricotta, light cream cheese, guacamole, etc), and then add fruit or veg on top. A sprinkle of salt or cinnamon, or a drizzle of oil or honey, and it's done.
posted by specialagentwebb at 7:50 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

My kid has been eating leftover chicken and steak for breakfast this week. Leftover falafel balls also went over well.

She *loves* cheese rollups (cheddar melted on a tortilla).

We also make "waffle eggs" because they're faster than scrambled/fried. Just heat up the waffle iron, break an egg or two into it, then cook 45 seconds or so. (Obviously this would just work for Micropanda.)
posted by belladonna at 7:56 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I get the Kashi trail mix bars for my 4-year-old's breakfast. Yeah, they have sugar. But it was really the best compromise between high-protein/nutrient-rich and something that was deemed acceptable breakfast food by him. Kind bars are also a thing he eats sometimes (some kinds are lower sugar than others) though those are not as high-protein. Bonus with both is that they are 100% grab and go.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:08 AM on May 18, 2015

Would they eat breakfast burritos? The upside is that you can make a bunch and freeze them (you can also make big ones and cut sushi-roll/pinwheel style so you can freeze slices and take out what you need as you need them). You can make one set with egg and one set without.

Same principle: sandwiches (not even "breakfast" sandwiches, just turkey and cheese or whatever), cream cheese sandwich pinwheel roll-ups in tortillas.

My mother went on a breakfast-carb-reduction campaign when I was a kid, and one of her switches was to mini-muffins, homemade in big batches once a month and frozen. You can make something sweet for that, so they get their fix, and then focus on protein sides. You could also make/freeze (or buy frozen) silver dollar pancakes so that they can have one or two but not make the whole meal of them.

I was a fiend for cottage cheese as a kid, but that's apparently hit or miss for most kids? I was also a fiend for Li'l Smokies, which are easy to heat, and so are frozen meatballs, or ham-cheese roll-ups.

(I don't like breakfast food very much, honestly. If you've ever had the breakfast buffet at a decent German hotel, you have seen my platonic ideal of breakfast.)
posted by Lyn Never at 8:11 AM on May 18, 2015

Trail mix!
posted by aniola at 8:11 AM on May 18, 2015

- Toast with dips (hummus, bean spreads made on the weekend, guacamole, ricotta with honey, full fat yogurt with a bit of honey or syrup or jam)
- Nachos! Really - they can be decently healthy with good cheese and some guacamole
- Tortilla rollups with meats, cheese, hashbrowns with egg, or whatever else the kid likes
- Foods typically made for dinner - macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, chicken with dip, broccoli with cheese, etc.
- baked egg muffins - have the eldest help you make up little egg muffins in a muffin tin. You just scramble the eggs and add anything you like - bits of meat or just cheese. You can even put a piece of sausage patty or hashbrown at the bottom for a little crust. Bake at 350F until they're set and the reheat perfectly. The silicone muffin tins work perfectly with no liners needed.
- scrambled tofu - it can be really good with cheese and some picky kids actually prefer it to eggs!

All of these can be prepped over the weekend and reheated for breakfast.

Do you have the picky eater help to make the food? Sometimes that really helps. You can watch a kid's cooking show and then make the recipe together, or look through a kid's cookbook for inspiration.
posted by barnone at 8:12 AM on May 18, 2015

I used to LOVE cottage cheese and pineapple. I'm pretty sure I would have also loved cottage cheese and local, seasonal fruits.
posted by aniola at 8:12 AM on May 18, 2015

Quinoa pancakes are higher in protein and can be made ahead.
posted by blue suede stockings at 8:27 AM on May 18, 2015

My 22-month-old has been rocking full-fat, plain yogurt with frozen blueberries lately. Both my kids (22 mo and 4.25y) love smoothies, which may be hard for the picky one, but often what ends up happening for us is that one kid has smoothie and the other has smoothie components -- see, "yogurt with frozen blueberries." What about yogurt, fruit, and meat? it could be breakfast sausage/bacon, or it could just be lunch meat. Or you could go full-on not-breakfast-foods -- my kids love what we call "monkey plates," which are just a random assortment of finger foods on a plate or in an ice cube try or something.
posted by linettasky at 8:35 AM on May 18, 2015

So many mentions of smoothies but I am still going to add:
I put a good serving of oats, Greek plain yogurt, fruit along with enough of some kind of milk and orange juice to make it blend. I do have a high-powered blender so that oatmeal disappears and just leaves a slightly grain-y background taste. Various vanilla protein powders add flavor, texture, and protein of course. More frozen fruit? Can be eaten with a spoon all summer like healthy ice cream.
I have to watch - sometimes I get the mixture off and the taste is not acceptable so you may need to experiment. Some frozen fruit it better than others. Blueberries seem to add no flavor; strawberries good unless they are super cheap then they seem to have too much water (boo, Costco). Ripe bananas are a big hit. Bananas and added cocoa powder are a favorite though I prefer to add more fruit.
This is still a sweet meal but it sounds like you are in a place where you need to offer calories more than trying to get someone to like beans or whatever.
I think of these smoothies as a better version of the pediasure of whatever meal replacement drink. You can even add calorie-dense fat with some coconut oil if they don't like the taste of coconut (use a deodorized version or whatever they are calling it so the oil doesn't taste like coconut anymore) or - yum - full fat coconut cream from the can (not the kind with added sugar - only coconut on the ingredient list) if they do like the yummy, yummy creamy taste of coconut.
Experiment with vanilla, a few drops of stevia. Save the kale until you have them hooked on the gateway smoothies - plus while kale is a healthy food it is not a high calorie food and that is what it seems you are looking for right now.
Good luck!
posted by RoadScholar at 8:51 AM on May 18, 2015

I was very underweight as a kid, and I didn't like breakfast cereal (still don't), so my parents would just make me foods they knew I liked for breakfast. Standards were canned vegetable or cream of tomato soup (sometimes made with half and half) or either a muenster cheese, or cream cheese and olive sandwich on rye. I have always had a hard time eating in the morning, so having my personal preferences indulged at breakfast gave me a little extra motivation to eat.

Probably not those things exactly, but something your own kids like. Veggie burgers, chili, beans on toast, canned ravioli, hot dogs would be quick and easy if they're not at choking risk. Just something they will consistently eat without protest, regardless of its 'breakfast' status.

In fact, fistbump to barnone, one of my standard breakfasts now is actually "bachos," which is an elision of "breakfast nachos," meaning nachos that you eat for breakfast.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:01 AM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by arimathea at 9:02 AM on May 18, 2015

There are high protein (and high cost) granola cereals out there, some of which I find pretty tasty. Cascadian Farms has a protein granola with pea and milk protein instead of the traditional nuts - a possible gateway to granola for the Special K set. Serve with full fat Greek yogurt for highest calories, add fruit for sweetness.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:06 AM on May 18, 2015

Sausage? Sausage and tofu? If Gluten is not a problem then the veggie burgers and such mixed with real pork or chicken sausage?
posted by kschang at 9:19 AM on May 18, 2015

We supplement cereal or a waffle at breakfast with a veggie sausage link or patty (we like Morningstar). Decent amount of protein in those and super easy to heat up in 30 sec or so in the microwave.
posted by msbubbaclees at 9:19 AM on May 18, 2015

Our high-protein go-to in the mornings is Chobani vanilla yogurt. It's got less sugar than most cereals, and it's very high in protein. My kids like it (but they've never really had sweeter yogurt).

They also like cream cheese and jam on toast; I buy high protein whole grain bread for this. Neither of my kids likes peanut butter, which seems to more common than I'd thought -- maybe because more of us only buy the unsweetened peanut butter, and it's just less palatable to kids?

I also make mini muffins with bananas, whole wheat flour, dark chocolate chips, and chopped nuts, and freeze them for school mornings.
posted by xeney at 9:30 AM on May 18, 2015

Oh yeah, I hear ya. Except it's chex instead of special K at our house! We don't have the egg allergy to contend with but toddler won't eat them, so, they don't work for us either. I haven't figured this out since the toddler is a moving target food wise, but:

We have had good luck with the Jones sausages OrangeDisk mentions in the first thread (though we usually get links), I just heat them up in a skillet and then put them in a tupperware in the fridge for the week. The work cold or nuke in just a few seconds. The toddler even wants them frozen sometimes, weird but teething maybe?

Full fat trader joe's baby yogurts (they have sugar of course).

Some almonds or peanuts in a cup. This doesn't help the baby.

Oh, and one thing that I just recently discovered is that eggs are really easy and quick to cook in the microwave either straight up scrambled or more of an egg sandwich disc. Again, this doesn't help Nanopanda, but if it's easy enough it might work for Micro.
posted by pennypiper at 9:31 AM on May 18, 2015

You know Special K makes a high protein cereal, right? 10 grams of protein per serving.

Try mixing some of that in with the strawberry stuff, then more and more until they like the taste. Then try adding fresh or frozen strawberries. You could also see if they would go for a little cinnamon sugar on the plain protein cereal.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:34 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Scrambled tofu is _super easy_. Rinse off a block of tofu, put it in the pan, mash it up with a fork. Add a little salt, a tiny bit of water, and a tiny bit of turmeric (for color). Let your kids be amazed by how such a little bit of yellow powder can turn the whole pound of tofu yellow! Heat & serve.

I like to heat with the lid on until bubbling, then uncover until a little liquid is gone.

If you want, you can add pepper, basil, paprika, parsley, etc.

You can also make two blocks (two pounds) at a time, then refrigerate breakfast-sized portions & re-heat in the microwave.
posted by amtho at 9:38 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Was just going to come in to suggest kids, 4.5 and 14 months, both love it. They actually love it just cut off the block - plain, no cooking or anything. For your kids you could also try offering it with various dipping sauces or options, based on what they really like already. Some of the obvious ones, like ketchup, ranch dressing or soy sauce, aren't very nutritionally helpful but might be enough to get the tofu in them. You could also go with PB, low-sugar jam, marinara sauce, guacamole, etc.

Buy a block of extra firm, and to get it even firmer you can slice and press it between paper towels and also freeze it for a little bit. It comes out with a dense, dry texture that makes it easy to eat.
posted by handful of rain at 9:41 AM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

You can get no sugar added no spice added apple butter. It's not a perfect solution, but you can use it as an alternate to syrup on waffles and such.

Also, I was a light eater at breakfast, and pretty picky. I remember gagging down the eggs and such my parents fed me at breakfast and settling on cheerios, milk and banana as a preferred breakfast eventually.

I was more inclined to eat more at lunch and dinner. When my mother despaired of getting me to eat at lunch, a friend suggested this to try and I liked it so I wound up eating quite a lot of bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches with mayo on wheat toast. (I would have happily eaten that for breakfast if it had been an option.)
posted by gudrun at 9:48 AM on May 18, 2015

I'd feed them things that they like from your lunch and dinner menus. Traditional American breakfast tends to be a carb/sugar bomb unless you really lean toward the breakfast meats and eggs side (which won't work well for you because eggs). I never liked sweet breakfast and will pick dinner leftovers or savory things over sweet every time. There's no reason to eat traditional breakfast foods in the morning unless you really love them. My grade school BFF regularly ate burgers for breakfast as a kid.
posted by quince at 9:49 AM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Well, my kid isn't so little but it's still easier to list the things he will eat than the things he won't.

A warning on tofu and yogurt: we did those things and he wound up with iron deficiency anemia. We're still working on this.

Things that kind of worked:
Egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, and bacon bits, pan fried. He made it on his own. It looks vile and tastes weird, bit he claimed to like it. Logistics of a small kitchen made that non viable long term.

Insta cake: two egg yolks plus two tablespoons cake mix. Mix and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or microwave for one minute. Kid made. The cleanup on that was bleh, so we got four inch baking cups. Even a kid gets tired of cake. Mostly because there was no frosting and I am a monster.

He was eating less and less with more and more tempers flaring, so I had to fall back and focus on what problem I was trying to solve: get sufficient iron and calories into that little stomach. Right now, it's two frozen chicken strips that go in the oven next to the bacon. He also starts eating earlier because he goes slowly (a whole other problem).

He also gets a kid's multivitamin but that's doctor's orders.
posted by lysdexic at 9:49 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

addendum to scrambled tofu recipe: _oil!_ You'll want to add some canola oil (or another kind) both for flavor, fullness, nutrition, and to aid in cooking.

Also: less-firm tofu can sometimes be better for scrambling.
posted by amtho at 9:53 AM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use string cheese as my go-to, easy breakfast calories & protein. I grab 2 string cheeses and a banana on really tight mornings.

I also use heavy cream in my coffee if I don't have an appetite or don't have time to eat much - that way I get some calories and satiating fat. Lots of my friends are freaked out by this, but it is DELICIOUS and I am healthy and slightly underweight, so I'm not afraid of fat.

Your kids obviously aren't drinking coffee, but I would put heavy whipping cream on anything they are eating/drinking - make oatmeal or grits with it, add it to the milk in their cereal, mix it up with some milk to make chocolate milk, add to smoothies, etc.
posted by raspberrE at 9:54 AM on May 18, 2015

If they like the special K, maybe try serving it with heavy cream or full fat yogurt to up the calorie content?
posted by permiechickie at 10:01 AM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

We've been finding that a little morning protein makes a big difference to the boy's mood. Yogurt with granola/fruit. Ham and/or cheese and/or hummus and/or avocado and/or egg rolled into a tortilla. A couple of slices of ham or sausages on the side of a more carby breakfast. He likes jelly sandwiches and we can sometimes add sun butter or similar; if you're lucky your kid likes those more. My kid does like completely plain tofu (I'm not disabusing him of the notion that it's cheese), maybe that, or in scramble form, would work.

If the kids like fruit and smoothies, you can jam a ton of protein into that with yogurt or protein powder.

If I was concerned about weight gain, I'd just knock everything up one level with the fat content, too. If the milk is 2%, switch to whole, or if it's whole add a splash of cream, or if it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich smear some butter on the bread.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:19 AM on May 18, 2015

Dosas! Basically, pancakes with lentil and rice batter. You can buy the batter at Indian grocery stores, and cook it as you would pancakes. If they take a liking to that, Indian breakfast foods in general tend to be relatively high protein and non-sweet, and you can experiment in that direction.
posted by redlines at 10:21 AM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

For an underweight kid, I don't know that it makes sense to limit sugar.

Have you been referred to a pediatric dietician? Or otherwise been given dietary advice from his doctor? I think that typically limiting added sugars is a noble goal, but in this case, perhaps it is misguided (and I'm not sure why the pediasure ingredients make you cry, but if it's because it's full of sugar, that's because kids really do need and use carbs--they use them for energy and to grow! They're not like obese grownups!)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:27 AM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

mine is a skinny 6 year old and yes, breakfast is a challenge here too.

What does work is salami (I am not sure what you call it in the US, but it is a rather salty hard dried sausage, I think most similar to peperoni in the US). While I am not thrilled about the salt content, I am glad he gets the fat and that it is not sweet. Before that it was cinnamon cereal with lots of sugar so it is an improvement.
He eats the salami with a salt-less crisp bread - his choice, it is what they get in kindergarten and he loves it.

his other breakfast (he only accepts those two choices right now) is fried egg whites, with crispy bacon. or boiled egg minus the yolk.

Previously he did also eat plain yoghurt and stir in our homemade strawberry jam. He hated the premixed stuff but controllinghow much jam was what did it. I make the jam myself using xylitol.
posted by 15L06 at 10:28 AM on May 18, 2015

Or to be more specific--if you've found a breakfast that's working for your underweight one, and it has syrup on it, that seems totally fine to me and not a battle I would pick with a picky kid, if that makes sense. It doesn't seem like too much for an underweight kid to get those extra calories from sugar, it seems totally appropriate. So I would stick to that, and maybe try to sub tofu for the egg for the older one.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:30 AM on May 18, 2015

I have been making a batch of whole grain pancakes, with chopped pecans and unsweetened shredded coconut as add-ins. Then I have them in the fridge and can pop one in the microwave for about ten seconds, and spread butter or peanut butter on top. We have a coconut peanut butter that he really likes. Sometimes I just put it on banana or apple slices.
posted by JenMarie at 10:35 AM on May 18, 2015

Response by poster: @internet fraud: I'm not going to take his toaster waffles (or other sugary items, except the special K, because that's low calorie on top of everything else) away from him, I'm just looking for ideas for other things we could try every now and then. 95% of the stuff that's been suggested here he's going to hate, but it would be fantastic to hit on another breakfast that appeals to him.

My biggest concern is with feeding him a breakfast that will keep him feeling good through the morning. I have a terrible mid-morning crash if I just have cereal or toast for breakfast.

The pediasure is depressing because I prefer feeding my family things that are made of food.
posted by telepanda at 10:46 AM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Not sure this is actually a breakfast food but my grandmother used to grate an apple, skin and all, sprinkled with sugar (you could use sweetener) and poured a bit of whipping cream over the top. Both my brother and I inhaled this when we would have turned up our noses at an apple. I would assume this would work with any fruit you would consider adding to yogurt. It doesn't get much more calorie dense than fats.

Also consider that the goal of keeping them fed all morning may not work at that age. It may be easier to make sure they have another good snack with protein mid morning.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:05 AM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Breakfast quesadillas, lunch meat, add vanilla or strawberry protein powder to the milk you use for cereal, smoked salmon,...
posted by pairofshades at 11:08 AM on May 18, 2015

Also marmite.... I personally hate it, but it's super good for you and lots of people and kids love it.
posted by pairofshades at 11:12 AM on May 18, 2015

Ah, okay, I apologize for misreading. I have a ridiculously picky child too, so I feel your pain. Good luck.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:24 AM on May 18, 2015

I'm the breakfast cook and while I'd love to serve more complex stuff, our schedule is such that breakfast for 3 has to be made start to finish in 20 minutes. We don't use any added sweeteners except occasionally maple syrup, and there is a little sugar in the fruit preserves. Given those constraints, these are the things that work well for my toddler, who hates eggs:

-MOOIE, which is what my son calls his favorite smoothie. Here is the recipe, as specific as I can get: whole-milk cream-top Jersey cow yogurt, frozen raspberries, a whole banana, a whole avocado, almond milk to make it the right texture, and then sometimes extra fruit: mango or blueberry or whatever. The raspberries taste great and totally hide the fact that anything green is inside, and it's very rich and filling.
-Toast with almond butter* and low-sugar cherry preserves
-Bananas with almond butter*
-Babybel or string cheese
-Hilary's "World's Best Veggie Burger" (but maybe this is too unidentifiable for Micropanda?)
-Seitan bacon ("Fakin' Bacon")
-Oatmeal with cream and cinnamon and sometimes maple syrup
-Rice pudding with raisins (BIG HIT, can be made with coconut milk, can be sweetened with spices)
-Whole-grain "Chex-type" cereal
-Dried apricots, diced, or raisins
-Mango, pear, berries
-Cottage cheese with diced pineapple or mandarin oranges mixed in (it's good, I swear)
-Spicy hummus on whole-grain crackers

*We find that unlike peanut butter, almond butter doesn't "glob" at all and is therefore not a choking hazard for toddlers.
posted by Cygnet at 11:35 AM on May 18, 2015

My youngest was underweight for ages. She is 16 and healthy and not at all picky today. But I went through some worried years.

Today, I am caregiver for children who have lost a parent, and they are both underweight and picky eaters. So I've been doing a lot of research.

One thing I've learnt now, which I didn't know back in the day because the pediatrician never told me, is that for most children, lots of time to eat is very important. Breakfast may take 30-45 minutes. They need to get up early, and thus get early to bed at night. This is not a bad thing. You might not be able to have a family dinner at night, because the children need to eat early and go to bed. But then maybe the morning meal is the main family event, and you get to have the evening for adults only.

Another thing I learnt is to take care to make the food served not be overwhelming. Obviously, children need to learn to eat like adults at some time in life. But that time is not in the morning and not if you are four and feel stressed about food for some reason. So I use very small plates and I make sure the food on them is easy to eat with fingers or small utensils. There are a lot of things which children's spoons and forks can't handle. Several servings is better than one huge plate.

BLT sandwiches are a huge hit - but they need to be in small formats, both in height and breadth. So I make a normal sandwich with toasted rye and then I flatten it and cut it into four triangles. I might even wrap a piece of paper round it. Same principle but including slices of avocado instead of tomato is also a succes.

Mozzarella cheese slices, served with cucumber for freshness. OJ for fruit.

Cubes or slivers of ham, also with cucumber cubes for variation. Milk is good with ham. Then maybe wedges of fruit for a "dessert".

Here, I can get rice flakes which I cook with whole milk for five minutes or less for a rich porridge - served with butter and a tiny bit of sugar. Served in a little fat bowl. Then some fruit in wedges afterwards.

During winter, a favorite - even with the 16yo - is warm milk, flavored with honey and a tiny bit of vanilla powder. Goes well with ham and cheese toast, cut in fingers.

Fried rice with chicken strips!! You can cook it the night before and just heat it. It's good with yoghurt on it. Nothing is more popular here, except perhaps another leftover: spaghetti bolognese.

Cottage cheese with either fruit or vegs - again small servings and small cubes of fruit or veg. Among the vegetables might be cold new potatoes, this time of year. Served with the skin on, they are full of goodness and very popular. Kids need some carbs, and new potato carbs are only good.

We only have cereals for holidays. They are not even in the cupboard the rest of the year. I throw all leftovers out after the holiday. I've discovered that pickiness is much reduced when I can truthfully say there are no other choices.
posted by mumimor at 12:02 PM on May 18, 2015 [7 favorites]

I've been known to feed the kids rice+black beans+guacamole for breakfast. It's one of the things we're sure both kids (19 months, 4.5 years) will eat whenever presented with it.

We also do large trays of bacon on the weekend or sausage and basically let them free range over it at breakfast time.

Full fat greek yogurt + homemade granola + honey and/or crushed strawberries works well too.

We don't do too much in the way of cereal in the morning, that gets pretty variable uptake.
posted by iamabot at 12:27 PM on May 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Tofu scramble (with substantial amounts of turmeric, for flavor and color) is a time-honored eggless savory breakfast! Throw in some pepper and onion strips, maybe sausage if you like. You can also make this in breakfast burrito format (e.g. add some potatoes and/or beans, roll in tortilla) -- those freeze and reheat very well so you can make a bunch for the week and just microwave them in the morning. And now I'm hungry.

Also, lately I eat whole-wheat pita bread with cured olives and hummus for breakfast; that has plenty of calories and "healthy fat" but no appreciable amounts of sugar.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:01 PM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

What are they willing to eat for their other meals? That's your best source for a list of ingredients.

I'd try the kids on nuts - maybe slivered almonds in their granola.

I'd try the kids on cold sliced roast. Ham may be too processed for your liking but you can get a whole one that is cured without nitrates and then boil it until it is not dreadfully salty. Like the roast you throw it on to cook during the weekend and then serve it sliced cold during the morning rush.

If they don't like mixed foods try serving the separate items not mixed together - so some kind of crunchy organic oat cereal, served dry, a glass of milk to wash it down and a handful of nuts on the side. This is a high protein breakfast as the grain and milk combine to make protein and the nuts are protein also. It's not more trouble to put four different items out on a plate than it is to throw them all into a bowl or a frying pan and stir them.

Applesauce is a good quick fruit that doesn't require any prep. You just slop it out of the jar. It comes unsweetened.

I like to put unsweetened canned fruit that comes in pear juice into a blender and puree it and then drink it.

If your kids are craving carbs in the morning it may be for the comfort as much as for the rapid blood sugar lift. In that case they might like milk, which can also be warmed to be comforting or served cold.

Home made peanut butter cookies make a nice breakfast. You can keep the sugar proportion down low if you make them yourself and with the egg and peanut butter and milk and grain in them they are quite high protein.

You can also bake a zucchini bread that uses a lot of eggs and give it to them as a breakfast bread.

They might accept raisins in lieu of processed sugar, but of course while raisins count as a serving of fruit they are also really high in sugar. My rule is that the first serving of fruit juice and the first serving of dried fruit each count as a serving of fruit but any repeat servings count only as sugar.

Apple pie and cheese cake both can be baked at home so as to have a minimal sugar content and then get served for breakfast. The apple pie is traditionally served with some cheese on the side.
posted by Jane the Brown at 2:51 PM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't put much stock on "this is breakfast food; this is not". I am not a huge fan of breakfast myself, so that may be why. That being said, I get that you still need quick kid-friendly options. Just saying that if you have quick lunch or dinner ideas, you can co-opt them for breakfast.

My kids love straight up deli meat. Can't get much faster than that! Have you tried cheese different ways (shredded, cubed, string cheese) or letting them pick the cheese at the store? What about melting cheese on things like mashed potatoes (can be frozen and reheated) or other foods they like? Do they like smoothies? You could add silken tofu to a smoothie, or yogurt, even some chia or flax seeds ...

Do they like dipping things? You could make a bunch of some dip (yogurt based, probably) and serve with fruits or veggies.

Is there any chance you can get help with a dietitian or nutritionist? Our state does have them as part of their early intervention services, so there's a chance ... they tend to have a fair number of ideas.
posted by freezer cake at 2:51 PM on May 18, 2015

You are doing an awesome job.

I was wondering...if he helped make a homemade granola would he mix it with the Special K? You might get a bit further adding to the familiar.

When my kid was underweight (weirdly he preferred the exclusion of other food) we did a lot of baked goods where I packed them with extra powdered milk, small amounts of chickpea flour, etc. So carrot muffins with nuts and added calories, banana bread, ditto. I never had to resort to breakfast cookies but a friend of mine swore by them. Pizza muffins sometimes have been a hit here.

Another option based on your tolerance for added sugar is making Special K bars (like rice krispy squares) with sunflower seeds and nuts and things like that in them.

I might also try, if he likes them, just having nuts on the table. Another horrible habit that also sometimes worked for us were snacks in the car...he was strapped in.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:13 PM on May 18, 2015

Sorry if you've already received these suggestions. My kid doesn't like certain textures so while I used to think she hated yogurt, she just hated thick yogurts. Here's some breakfasts over here:
* cheese quesadillas with corn tortillas and guacamole
* TJs 8-minute cut oats. I put frozen blueberries in the microwave for 30 seconds and mix that with the oatmeal. This oatmeal doesn't have the gooey, slimey texture of rolled oats
* TJs whole milk yogurt (a bit more runny and light/less thick and pastey than greek yogurt) with cut strawberries and honey
* Fried rice with bacon, fried onions, soy sauce
* A jumpin monkey smoothie (without coffee)
posted by biscuits at 6:21 PM on May 18, 2015

when I was a kid I loooooooooooved those thin little jennie-o sausages. I probably could have eaten the entire package if my parents had let me. Other attempts at sausages need not apply.

Sliced banana makes cereal go a long way in how filling (and lasting) cereal is. Especially if you switch over to a cereal that has more protein.

How would they feel about granola mixed into yogurt?

I also would have suggested peanut butter toast, but if micropanda is not a peanut butter fan, that probably wouldn't go over so well.
posted by tan_coul at 6:48 PM on May 18, 2015

Have you seen this new thread? I was a total sucker for novelty and would have eaten any number of things cooked like that!
posted by jrobin276 at 8:34 PM on May 18, 2015

I have never been a breakfast foods person so for as long as I can remember I always ate sandwiches for breakfast. Recently I've discovered the yummy goodness of making burritos in the morning, with ground turkey, some beans, cheese, avocado and a little salsa. My kid eats them with me minus the salsa.

As far as eggs go, have you tried serving only egg yolk? My kid is allergic to egg whites, but is happy with fried egg yolks.
posted by vignettist at 10:02 PM on May 18, 2015

Toast or grilled bread with ham and cheese melted on top. Sneak in avocado or tomato if they'll eat it.

Smoothie with full fat plain yogurt or milk, banana, berries, and a scoop of protein powder of your choice, plus flax or chia.

Breakfast hash with leftover or pre-cooked potatoes, meat, a veggie perhaps.

Breakfast burrito with tofu or not, plus beans, cheese, etc.

Another strategy: my husband makes most meals, and sometimes my kids are more likely to try something new if I make it and serve it.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:11 PM on May 18, 2015

If adding calories is your main objective here, why not give him the Special K but with half and half instead of milk? Or hell, even heavy cream? I've made my toddler's oatmeal with cream instead of milk when we run out, and he loves it. The high fat and protein content (especially if you use the high-protein Special K that someone mentioned upthread) should keep him full and satisfied for a really long time.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:22 AM on May 19, 2015

My breakfast for the teen who was always hungry otherwise:
1 cup non-quick oats
1 tbs sugar
generous sprinkle of cinnamon
1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder (25g protein, 2g fat)
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
I'd measure out a week of that in advance in separate containers, then the night before add milk to one container, stir it up and put that in the fridge so the oats will soften. Then in the morning, I just need to microwave it enough to make it warm, instead of cook it (88 seconds in our microwave).

Other ideas; 1/2 tbs sugar, 1/2 tbs molasses. Substitute sugar for jam. When I make it for myself, I usually do 1/2 cup of oats and 1/2 cup of wheat germ, no sugar and about a tbs of molasses.

Given the ages of your kids, you'll likely need to cut down the volume of that a fair amount. There's not much fat in it, but lots of protein and fiber. It's not super vitamin rich, but the wheat germ tosses in some zinc and b vitamins. If you use molasses, that will add some iron.
posted by nobeagle at 7:52 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

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