While breakfast is known in the United States as the most important meal of the day, that’s not true worldwide. In plenty of European countries, coffee with a splash of milk counts as a perfectly fine start.
So when your kids dart out the door with empty stomachs, you can take comfort in knowing only some parts of the world would consider this a parenting fail. Still, convincing kids to eat something in the morning is shown to have lots of benefits, including increased energy and a boost in academic performance. Getting something in their bellies really is worth a try.
Few of us have the luxury of time on weekday mornings, so tempting your family with eggs, bacon and pancakes is not always feasible. The trick is finding the sweet spot where taste, convenience and nutrition intersect. Try these kid-friendly breakfast ideas from around the world. Most of them are portable because we all know that if breakfast is to be eaten, it will probably happen in the car or at the bus stop.
Guatemalan beans and tortillas
Beans slathered on tortillas make for a filling breakfast, especially if you include a fried egg in the mix. Blending these tasty black beans makes them sticky enough to stay inside the tortilla, cutting down on the mess. Guatemalans make their own tortillas daily or pick them up fresh from tortillerias, but you can use store-bought ones to save time.
Fried plantains from the Americas and Africa
This sweet and crispy dish shows up on breakfast, lunch and dinner plates throughout the Americas and in many African countries. Fried plantains are quick to make, and you can spike them on wooden skewers to be nibbled in transit.
Ecuadorean breakfast drinks
Come y bebe, which translates to “eat and drink” in Spanish, is a drinkable fruit salad that makes for an extremely healthy start to the day. And you don’t even need a blender!
You can find lots of African variations on the Scotch egg, which was introduced on the continent during colonialization and lives on as a popular street food in many African countries. Uganda’s version is probably the tastiest, with its fluffy layer of mashed potatoes surrounding a boiled egg, with crispy fried breading on the outside.
Cooked fava beans are mashed and served with toppings like cheese, olive oil and peppers. And you can skip the utensils: ful is traditionally served with a hunk of bread that’s used as an edible spoon.
Flavored store-bought yogurt often has loads of added sugar. Take a cue from those heart-healthy Greeks, who doctor up plain yogurt with honey, fruit and nuts for a sweet but not-too-sugary morning meal.
In Japan, a steamy bowl of miso soup is a common morning meal. The fermentation process that transforms beans and grains into miso paste creates live, active cultures good for digestion. Chunks of tofu provide protein.
What makes Icelandic oatmeal different? Honestly, nothing. But calling your morning bucket of glue “hagragrautur” gives it an exotic flair. Sprinkle on nuts, raisins and brown sugar, and maybe a splash of milk.
British beans on toast
It’s hard to imagine this ever catching on with American eaters, but kids like to eat strange things, so it might be worth a try.
If you’ve tried all the other options and your children are still refusing to eat breakfast, it’s time for hagelslag. This word for sprinkles means “hailstorm” in Dutch. To prepare your breakfast, simply butter a slice of bread and cover it in chocolate sprinkles.