"I don't want green stuff in my eggs!" "Why does he get the red spoon?" "Don't put the berries on my waffle." With three kids under age 5, breakfast at Rosie Pope's home in New Jersey feels like a scene out of Die Hard. "I'm a human yo-yo," says Pope, a Parents contributing editor who founded Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep, classes for new and expectant parents. "The kids never let me sit down for a minute and what's going to happen is unpredictable." Even though the London native writes our Rosie to the Rescue! advice column, this time she needed guidance herself. To end the kids' breakfast shenanigans before her older son, James, begins kindergarten this fall, we sent our food editor, Jenna Helwig, to meet with her.
Rosie's biggest problem: She's a short-order cook every morning. "I've gotten into the habit of making three different breakfasts," she admits. "Because I'm rushing, they're not as nutritious as they could be." The family's food drama began two years ago. That's when James -- "the baby who happily ate kale, squash, and broccoli," she recalls -- became pickier. She began catering to his tastes at mealtimes but didn't want to impose his limited menu on Wellington, 2, and Vivienne, 1. "Rosie needs to stick with making one meal for the entire family," says Helwig.
The kids are early risers, getting up around 6 A.M. "They want breakfast as soon as they wake up. I'm already up to work out or getting ready for work, so making breakfast can't be complicated," she says. Helwig has an easy fix for that. "Incorporate several make-ahead options into your family's breakfast rotation. It could be baking a muffin or a bar that lasts for a few days or freezing a batch of pancakes or waffles on the weekend and reheating them as needed."
Helwig developed five healthy recipes for Rosie, which we share in the following slides. A few weeks ago, Rosie and her husband, Daron, did a trial run of all of them to see how the kids would react. "It was success on all fronts," says Rosie, author of Mommy IQ: The Complete Guide to Pregnancy. "The muffins were the kids' favorite, and I'm not surprised because they are really cute and fun to make together. Plus, I feel great knowing they are having more home-cooked foods that Daron and I can enjoy with them. Eating a meal as a family is important, whether you do it at breakfast or at dinner."
Even a frittata can be fast enough for weekdays, especially if you cook the bacon the night before.
Flax adds heart-healthy fiber and omega-3 fatty acids to this morning favorite.
Store the stuffed muffins in the fridge for up to three days. Spread them with jam just before serving.
Rosie's children enjoy eating oatmeal for breakfast, so to pump up the nutrients even more we swapped half the oats for quinoa, which is a better source of stay-full protein. You can start cooking this fiber-rich breakfast the night before and then quickly reheat it on the stove in the morning.
Rosie's son Wellington preferred dunking these make-ahead bars in milk before gobbling them up.
Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Parents magazine.