On harried, hurried school mornings, it may seem sugary cereal with milk is the easiest breakfast option.

The truth: It doesn't take long to serve a healthy breakfast—and the benefits are well worth the effort.

Studies show that kids who eat a healthy breakfast tend to have better school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomachaches in the morning, according to Toby Smithson, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Their overall test scores are better, they concentrate better, solve problems more easily and have better muscle coordination," Smithson says. "Children who eat breakfast are also less likely to be overweight and more likely to get enough calcium."

But simply eating breakfast is not enough. It has to be a healthy breakfast.

This is even more important if you're battling any blood sugar problems, which my older daughter and I do. If we don't eat a protein-rich breakfast, we run the risk of literally passing out. Not fun. Even if you don't suffer from blood sugar issues, many nutritionists will tell you protein is the star of any breakfast recipe.

Delicious Protein-Rich Breakfasts Include:

  • Fried or soft-boiled egg, whole-grain toast and fruit or avocado slices
  • Scrambled egg with cheese, topped with salsa, sometimes wrapped in a tortilla
  • Instant plain grits with shredded low-fat cheddar cheese and soy bacon bits
  • Cheese toast or whole-grain muffin or bagel half with fruit on the side
  • Frozen whole-grain blueberry waffle topped with peanut butter
  • Peanut butter toast with banana
  • Fruit smoothies or green smoothies (the older daughter includes plenty of protein, with some combination of milk, yogurt, protein powder or peanut butter)
  • Low-fat yogurt, topped with granola
  • Lean turkey on toast or a whole-grain English muffin, with a slice of tomato or avocado
  • Oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit and chopped nuts or peanut butter
  • Almond butter on whole-grain toast, muffin or waffle

If your kids don't like breakfast foods—or get bored with them—let them eat a sandwich or leftovers. Anything is fine if it's healthy food. Encourage them to fix their own—and to avoid prepackaged, processed foods as much as possible.

The more you offer them healthy options, the more they will learn to love them.

My daughters, now in their 20s, thank me for teaching them to eat healthy, and yours will, too!

What's your go-to healthy breakfast? Share it in the comments.

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