This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Van's International Foods. All opinions are my own.
School is back in session, and with it comes the struggle of getting back into the swing of the school year. Between early bus stop times, sleepy kids (and sleepy Mom), forgotten homework meltdowns and picky eaters, mornings can be the most stressful time of day. I know I'm not the only mom out there who struggles with getting a healthy breakfast on the table during busy school day mornings! That's why I asked nutritionist and mom of three Joy Bauer for her tips for busy moms everywhere.
I could rattle off impressive facts about Joy's wildly successful career, but you might recognize her as the nutrition and health expert for the TODAY Show and the author of 12 New York Time best-selling books, her latest being "From Junk Food to Joy Food." If anyone knows how to make busy mornings less stressful, it's Joy. See what she has to say below!
Q: My kids are a little picky but I don't always have time to make them each a different breakfast - what are some of your go-to options that are easily customizable?
Joy Bauer (JB): Yogurt is a quick and healthy breakfast option--and one that you can easily tailor to different tastes. For instance, start with plain yogurt and then stir in some chopped fresh fruit (berries are a favorite in my house), mix in some whole-grain cereal and/or chopped, toasted nuts. So simple!
Whole grain waffles are another great base for healthy breakfasts. Toast up a brand like Van's and then have fun--cut up into squares, put on a skewer and alternate with chunks of peaches or sautéed apple slices and drizzle on a teaspoon of maple syrup. You can also top a toasted whole grain waffle with peanut butter and fresh berries--or use a toasted waffle instead of bread to make an egg sandwich.
Eggs are so easy. There are so many ways to cook them (you can even microwave them for fluffy scrambled eggs!) and there are a ton of delicious ways to serve them. You can make an egg sandwich, frittata, egg white omelet. Top with your favorite ingredients, like veggies, beans, cheese and salsa, and enjoy!
Smoothies are also a nutritious option that can be whipped together in minutes and customized to different tastes. Start with yogurt or milk as your base, add any frozen fruit you can think of, and then consider other flavor enhancers, like peanut butter, cocoa powder or chia seeds--the sky's the limit! P.S. You can easily sneak in a handful of baby spinach without your kids noticing.
>> Read more: Green Tea Smoothie
Q: My kid has the last lunch period of the day. What are some breakfasts that will really keep him/her full until then?
JB: The power pair of protein and fiber is what you need to keep appetite in check. Any of the above breakfasts would work.
Q: What are your favorite foods to fuel up before an early morning workout?
JB: If I'm planning to work out super early in the a.m., I usually have a cup of black coffee, stretch and jump right in. Then, after my workout, I dig into a hearty breakfast. That's always been my early morning workout routine.
>> Read more: 18 Bodyweight Exercises for a great at-home workout
Q: How can I get my kids more involved in cooking or preparing their own meals or snacks?
JB: Engage your children in the kitchen as often as you can. Don't be afraid to start this habit early on--kids of all ages can choose a cuisine or theme night or healthy recipe. They can also pick a new produce item to incorporate into meals and snacks. Then, divvy up the chores by age--younger kids can help wash produce items, set the table, prepare a salad, etc. Older kids can help with chopping veggies and actual cooking.
There are so many benefits to this team approach to cooking: You get an extra set of hands, you score some quality bonding time with your kids (no electronics!), and you get to teach your kids about nutritious foods, which sets them out on the right path to a lifetime of healthy eating habits. The biggest perk: Kids are invested in their food and this often makes them more interested and more likely to try new things.
Q: What's your typical morning routine?
JB: Mornings are hectic! Typically, I'm out the door by 6 a.m. and off to the TODAY Show or my office. I need something quick, portable, and packed with protein and fiber to keep me feeling energized during my chaotic a.m. routine. My go-to breakfast is a container of nonfat Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit or baggie of nuts. I'm also crazy for eggs, so when there's time, I'll whip up an over-stuffed egg white omelet. And of course, I never leave the house without having my cup of black coffee!
Q: What are some tricks to get everyone out the door in the morning quickly and happy?
JB: Create an inventory of healthy breakfasts. Have a recipe repertoire of five healthy and quick morning meals and keep the ingredients on hand at all times. For example, keeping a box of whole grain waffles like Van's handy in the freezer lets you be creative with toppings, but still offers a breakfast that's wholesome and easy that can be enjoyed on the go.
Plan ahead. Know what you're going to make the night before so there's less stress during the morning rush.
Breathe. Believe me, I know how stressful it is trying to get everyone up and out on time. Remember to take a deep breath in the midst of the madness and enjoy these moments. Some of my favorite memories happened over the breakfast table.
Q: How do you deal with the pressures of being a busy mom while working to stay fit and healthy?
JB: I make it a point to do something active every day--whether it's working out on my treadmill while catching up on the latest headlines or walking around the neighborhood with my family (who all live nearby). This definitely helps keep stress in check.
I also make sure to spend quality time with my husband and kids whenever I can. We all enjoy each other's company and spend most of our time laughing together (or "at" each other!)--a great way to unwind and relax!