For many Canadian parents, mornings can be a source of enormous frustration.

Does this sound familiar?

Tuesday, 7:15 a.m. (if you’re lucky!)

Parent: What do you want for breakfast?

Child: (Sound of crickets)

Parent: Hurry up! You have to pick something. A bowl of cereal? A piece of toast? Oatmeal? Toaster waffles?

Child: Cereal.

Once the cereal is on the table, you dash out of the kitchen to get ready for work. As you run back in a few minutes later, you glance at the clock and realize you have to leave soon to drop your child off to school or daycare. But they’ve barely touched their breakfast. This is about the time when you start visualizing traffic jams building up on the highway and you break out into an endless monologue that makes no sense to your child.

As a family support professional, I often hear parents voice concerns about the way they criticize their children. This is a prime example of the type of scenario they bring up. Right off the bat, let me reassure you that this kind of nagging won’t cause irreparable damage to your child’s psyche, but it can be a source of discomfort and stress to them, knowing that they are falling short of your expectations. And the irritation it causes you is simply unnecessary.

Many children refuse to eat (or pick at their food) in the morning. This can be caused by a loss of appetite, which may or may not be linked to a medication they are taking. It can be related to a food sensitivity or other condition. Or it could be because of a lack of variety in the breakfast menu – or, conversely, an overabundance of choice. In other words, there are any number of reasons why countless families find themselves in this weekday predicament.

Have you considered the possibility of adapting and diversifying your breakfast options, with foods that pack a big nutritional punch in a smaller serving? I’ve come up with a list here of a few healthy variations that will appease their hunger and help you save on precious time.

Smoothies: 

These flavourful fruit combos let you whip up breakfasts that can be adjusted to any taste in a matter of minutes. And it’s easy to enhance their nutritional value with yogurt, tofu, wheat germ, oatmeal, seeds or your favourite superfood (maca powder is a great option with a mild taste in the right quantities). The drinkability factor makes this a less daunting choice for children who balk at bigger morning meals – without compromising on the nutrients they need to start the day.

Energy balls: 

As their name implies, these little nibbles are jam-packed with energy-boosting ingredients that you can personalize to suit even the pickiest palates. They’re ideal for tiding you over until your next meal or snack. Plus they’re no-cook, so there’s no reason not to give them a whirl!

Fruit spring rolls:

The concept is ridiculously simple: cut up some fruit, wrap it in rice paper, and voilà! For a dip: nothing beats a dollop of Greek yogurt. Yum!

Healthy muffins or breads:

Bake a batch in advance and store for a morning meal that can be served up in a flash. Recipes that use ingredients that are high in nutritional value (fruit, applesauce, seeds, etc.) are a great “power-up” for your whole family – and their dessert-like appearance is extra appealing to kids.

Oatmeal pancakes:

Here’s an awesome spin on the traditional pancake, which is long on sugar and prep time and short on nourishment. All you need is three ingredients for a single serving: 1 egg, ¼ cup of your choice of milk and ½ cup of oatmeal or steel-cut oats. Mix them together, fry them up and enjoy!

Sometimes it’s not so hard to find workarounds that change the family dynamic for the better. Try this approach on for size for calmer, happier mornings!

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Translated and adapted by Shonda Secord.