Mommy and Me Breakfast by Melissa Cates

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day."

"An apple a day keeps the doctor aways."

"Always wear clean underwear."

These are some important adages to live by, and I can say I adhere pretty closely to two out of the three… What? Sometimes, I find myself all out of apples.  ;)

My two-year-old son is a grazer, but he does his best eating at breakfast. He will eat more variety and quantity first thing in the morning before his little mind and body start buzzing. So, it falls to me to provide him with plenty of nourishing, nutrient-dense fare from the get-go. I would love to stand at the stove and prepare him a veggie and feta frittata with a side of freshly diced fruit and some homemade granola having already showered, dressed and “put my face on.” Adorable apron, optional, but present in my fancy daydreams.

Ah, June Cleaver, you pillar of a woman! I serve Austin’s breakfast with yesterday’s pony tail riding low and loose, draped in lovely mix and match PJ’s with dark circles under my eyes that are either from too little sleep or a poor job with the eye makeup remover…or both.

My go to breakfast when I need to get everything cooked and on the table with minimal pots, pans, and prep time? Oatmeal. I love oatmeal. Like, really love it. Needless to say Austin does, too. Here’s what I do.

My first hack: one-minute oats. They are the same as their longer-cooking counterparts, just ground into smaller bits. Next, because I hate scrubbing pots first thing in the morning (or anytime, at all), I use the microwave. Use water, almond milk, or cow’s milk, depending on your preference. My scrawny tot gets whole milk, and I’ll tell you, the taste can’t be beat.

Then, pick your add-ins. Austin and I share, so I do 1.5 portions of the oatmeal and usually stir in half a cup or so of greek yogurt for protein. It makes enough for us both.  This morning, we were out of yogurt (oh, Fridays…) so a little coconut oil and flax seeds did the trick.

Oh, and honey. It doesn’t matter how healthy it is if he won’t eat it! A little goes a long way.

I found a squeeze yogurt and tossed it on the plate to entice him to eat, eat, eat; fresh fruit rounds it all out. One would normally cut fruit up for a toddler, but Austin is adamantly into having the “whole fing,” and that’s a battle I’m not about to fight!

I would write out a recipe, but it is found right there on the carton of oats. So, here are some ideas for stir-ins:

·      Greek yogurt (Protein, protein, protein)
·      Peanut or Almond Butter
·      Mashed Banana
·      Flax seeds (Omega-3’s are important for developing brains!)
·      Fresh fruit
·      Coconut Oil (Healthy fats are essential for growing tots. And, momma, rub a little on those dry cuticles for an instant mani!

Now that I’ve saved so much time on breakfast, I can catch up on my reading or give myself a mani-pedi. Oh wait, that’s another daydream. But seriously, I may not have time for wet nails during the day (who does?), but cutting yourself some slack by having easy, nutritious meals up your sleeve is a definite way to pamper yourself and simplify your life.

Wishing you breakfast, apples, and clean underwear,



Veggie Smoothie for Toddlers by Melissa Cates

Back in the good ole days, I could spoon anything into my little one’s mouth, and he would predictably mush it around and swallow. Aaaahhh... the sweet satisfaction of knowing little round belly was full of nutritious fruits, veggies, proteins, and the occasional tasty herb or spice.  (You know, for palate expansion....) Jump ahead to present day, Austin is two, and his lips might as well have a deadbolt on them. A deadbolt to which only he holds the key, and who knows what motivates him to unlock it. One day pasta is permissible, the next nothing but fruit shall pass.

Oh, two year olds. I won’t say they are “terrible,” because they are really too much fun for that label. I will say they will teach you a whole heap of things. About yourself, about them, about love, about forgiveness, about patience, about how to get crayon marks off of hardwood floors...

Really, I wish I had taken out stock in Purell and Brawny. And, maybe invested in part of a vineyard?


Anyway, ever since those little lips starting locking out my attempts at rounded nutrition, I started sneaking past the gatekeeper by throwing everything and anything into the blender and serving it up with a straw and a smile. (A little theatrical enthusiasm goes a long way with toddlers.) You may have to gradually add in the stronger tasting greens and veggies, but a good starting place is sweet baby carrots. Get that past your little culinary tyrant, and you can move on cauliflower, spinach (raw is milder than the cooked, frozen stuff), kale, even green peas! I really just use what I have in the fridge, but this one is what Austin drinks most days.

As A says when he gets up from his nap:  “It’s ‘moovie time!”

Austin’s Sneaky Veggie Smoothie

Serves 2 (momma could use a nutrional boost, too!)

  • 1 ripe banana (preferably frozen)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored
  • 1 handful baby carrots
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 handful kale
  • 2 brussels sprouts (if you dare…)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, optional (Austin needs the extra fat and calories)
  • 1-2 tbsp honey, agave, sugar, or molasses
  • ½ cup greek yogurt, I use weetedplain for lower sugar content
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Blend your heart out!

Tip: When loading your blender with all this goodness, put the heaviest foods on the bottom nearest the blade.