Breakfast Couscous

Breakfast is arguably the most difficult meal to provide for young children.  Parents are still groggy from the sudden awakening that so often begins a day with toddlers and the kids are extremely hungry.  These factors combine to make breakfast the most boring meal of the day as well since we tend to fall back on the same old staples day after day.  It is hard to beat a bowl of cheerios for a quick, healthy, child pleasing breakfast, but if you want something different that the whole family will enjoy I have a new suggestion:  Breakfast Couscous.  My sister made a recipe for breakfast couscous from Cooking Light magazine for our kids one morning and my daughter gobbled it up!  This is a great alternative to oatmeal on a cold, wintry morning and even kids who don’t like the texture of oatmeal may like couscous.  I’m not a big fan of oatmeal myself, mostly because of the heavy, sometimes gloppy texture, but couscous has a lighter, drier texture that I really enjoy.  Couscous also cooks very quickly, almost as fast as instant oatmeal, making it a great choice for feeding extra-hungry kids in the morning.  Please, try out the recipe below and let me know if your kids enjoy it as much as ours do!

Berry Breakfast Couscous

I use whole-wheat couscous in this recipe because it provides extra fiber and nutrients but you can substitute regular couscous if you prefer.  Also, you can substitute any dried fruits for the dry berries.  Make sure to chop the nuts very finely for young children and, if you have children under the age of 2, you may want to leave out the walnuts entirely.  To make this recipe even faster, mix a double batch of the dry ingredients together beforehand and keep in an airtight container.  Then you just have to heat some milk in the morning and stir in some of the couscous mixture!

Makes 3 servings (2/3 cup each)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup uncooked whole-wheat couscous (not pearl couscous which has larger grains and takes longer to cook)

1/4 cup dried mixed berries, raisins, or other dried fruit

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Heat the milk in a small saucepan until boiling.  Meanwhile, stir together the dry ingredients (couscous through cinnamon) in a small mixing bowl.

2.  Once the milk is boiling, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the couscous mixture until well combined; stir in the vanilla extract.  Cover the pan and let sit for 10 minutes or until the couscous is tender and mixture has thickened.  Serve warm.

Other Ideas for Quick Healthy Kid Breakfasts:

– Frozen whole-grain waffle, toasted and topped with peanut butter and sliced bananas

– Piece of whole-wheat toast or whole-wheat bagel thin topped with scrambled eggs and melted cheese and served with sliced fruit

– Yogurt sprinkled with blueberries and granola

Homemade instant oatmeal

Bran muffin with warm cinnamon applesauce

Homemade Granola or, for  breakfasts in the car, homemade granola bar

– Whole-wheat tortilla spread with low-fat refried beans, salsa, and sprinkled with a scrambled egg and cheese then warmed in a toaster oven or microwave until cheese is melted

– Smoothie made with yogurt, milk and frozen berries and/or banana all whirled together in the blender