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Healthy Living: Breakfast Outside the Box

We all know – and hear regularly – that breakfast is an important meal never to skip, especially for our growing kids. Study after study has shown that kids who eat breakfast are much more likely to perform better in school and stay focused throughout the day. One study I read even suggested that children who eat a good breakfast are much less likely to develop childhood obesity. Breakfast is a powerful tool!

But if you’re like me, I have a hard time getting enough protein first thing in the morning. and my kids would much rather eat a biscuit with butter and jelly than to concentrate on the protein needed to help them concentrate throughout the day. One son doesn’t eat eggs; the other one doesn’t drink milk. It’s a constant struggle to find good, low fat protein sources we all will enjoy for breakfast.

I’ve had to think outside the cereal box for new ideas, and often this means opening the breakfast menu to items they might eat at lunch or dinner. This might sound unusual, but mine love a leftover taco or plate of chicken and pasta for breakfast! I’ve even reheated Chinese fried rice on occasion.

If you’re looking for some creative protein ideas for breakfast, you might try refried beans spread on whole-grain tortillas or as odd as it may sound, I know some kids who love hummus on whole grain tortilla chips for their early morning energy.

I’ve made these healthy black bean quesadillas for my children for breakfast – and no one even noticed or complained about the spinach. You can add eggs or salsa if your family likes those ingredients, and don’t be shy about using any leftover chicken or potatoes from dinner the night before. Breakfast doesn’t have to only be from a box!

Black Bean Quesadillas
Serves 4

3 cups baby spinach leaves
4 (8-inch) whole-grain tortillas
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add spinach leaves and cook for two minutes or until wilted. Remove from pan and set aside.  

Spray skillet lightly again with cooking spray and allow to reheat to medium-high heat. Place one tortilla in bottom of skillet and cook for 1 minute.

Add spinach; sauté 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe pan with a paper towel. 

Coat pan with cooking spray; place over medium heat until hot. Place one tortilla in pan. Cook 1 minute or until bottom of tortilla is golden. Sprinkle ¼ of spinach, beans and cheese over one side of tortilla. Gently fold tortilla in half and flip over to cook for 1 more minute. Repeat with remaining tortillas and spinach, beans and cheese. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 292, Total Fat: 10.6 g, Saturated Fat: 6.2 g, Sodium 196 mg, Carbohydrates 32.2 g, Protein: 18.6 g

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