A healthy morning meal doesn't just give kids the fuel they need to power through their busy day. It's also the perfect opportunity to sneak in foods they don't get enough of. While the typical American breakfast can be a great way for kids to eat more whole grains, fruit and low-fat dairy, breakfast foods inspired by cultures around the globe can help kids eat more vegetables and new flavors, too.
Looking to global cuisines is a smart alternative for kids who get bored eating the same thing over and over. That's especially important because the way foods taste is a major factor in what kids do — or don't — eat.
Your kids can enjoy whole-grain cereal or waffles on some days and on other days, try some of these top international picks:
- Mexico: South of the border, it's not uncommon for kids to eat tortillas with beans and shredded beef or chicken. Similar to a sandwich, this quick, invigorating breakfast provides protein and dietary fiber from the beans.
- Israel: One of the biggest benefits of an Israeli breakfast is that it includes both vegetables and fruit, as well as healthy fats. A typical breakfast consists of olives, cheese, vegetables, bread and fresh juices. A fun Israeli recipe to make with school-age kids is to thread chunks of cheese and vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and pitted olives on wooden skewers.
- Kenya: A traditional Kenyan breakfast includes porridge made from maize (corn), sorghum or millet. It may be served with peanuts or fish and boiled sweet potatoes or cassava.
- India: Indian breakfasts often are vegetarian. One South Indian favorite is vegetable upma, a hot breakfast made from a creamy porridge and vegetables including onions, carrots and green beans and spiced with ginger, curry leaves, mustard seeds and cumin. Simple and comforting, this warm morning meal provides plenty of iron from fortified grains and dietary fiber from vegetables.
- Peru: A typical Peruvian breakfast often is a corn or quinoa tamal with papaya and white cheese known as queso fresco. A weekend favorite is stir-fried steak with tomatoes and onions served with bread.
- Colombia: It's not unusual for people in Colombia to start their day with caldos or soup. Another Colombian favorite is arepas, bread made from corn meal and eaten with cheese or shredded beef. In the U.S., arepas can be found in some supermarkets in the cultural foods section. Try stuffing an arepa with lettuce, avocado, beans and tomatoes.
"If you're looking for something new for breakfast, look for ideas from different cultures. A global cuisine can be healthy and a fun new way for you and your children to try new foods."
Kimberly Snodgrass, RDN, LD
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson
Find a Nutrition Expert
Looking for credible nutrition information and recommendations? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' network of credentialed food and nutrition practitioners are ready to help!