The 2017-2018 school year is in full swing and youngsters everywhere are enjoying enriching, educational opportunities and learning experiences. I hope that mothers and fathers everywhere are reminding their children that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast jump starts a person's metabolism and provides protein and other nutrients to get our brains in gear.

Despite its reported benefits, breakfast is still one of the most neglected meals of the day, mainly because people don’t get up early enough to allow time for proper nutrition in the mornings. According to a recent Gallup survey of 407 children in grades 4 through 8, nearly 60 percent of the children interviewed said they skipped breakfast. Moreover, two-thirds of the children said that they are allowed to decide for themselves what to eat. Some children have parents who, because of their work schedules, have little or no time to prepare and serve breakfast. Because these children do not eat a nutritious breakfast at home, they remain hungry until lunchtime. Hunger in the morning leaves children cranky and lethargic. Most significantly, I stress again, hunger dulls a person’s capabilities of thinking, reasoning and creating.

In 1975, Congress permanently established the School Breakfast Program to provide essential nutrition to children who had parents who could not afford nourishing breakfasts foods and/or to children who had to get on the bus very early and ride an hour or so to school. As the years progressed, the success of the program was evidenced by improvements in achievement test scores. Eventually, many private schools, too, began breakfast programs to benefit children whose working parents have to drop them off at school early or for children who just plain want to fill their tummies before first period begins because they know it will be three hours or longer before lunch.

Now, I always made sure my sons had a good breakfast before school and taught them that eating breakfast is an excellent habit. If you have a child that simply doesn't like to eat right after he/she wakes up, please urge your child to drink a glass of juice or milk and eat a banana, a granola bar, a blended fruit and ice slushy or a banana and frozen yogurt shake. I would cut peanut butter toast into various shapes, made cheese toast, and even baked extra quiche so there would be enough left over for breakfast.

I know firsthand that children are drawn to the breakfast table for tacos, quesadillas and breakfast pizzas. You may want to try a fruity quesadilla or to whip up a peanut butter and banana quesadilla. Both recipes are filled with enough vitamins and minerals to keep your child’s mind and body going until lunch time.

Cinnamon-apple breakfast quesadilla

2 (6-inch) flour tortillas

1/2 cup chunky applesauce, divided

1 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar divided

1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 tablespoons vanilla yogurt (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place one tortilla on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread 1/4 cup chunky applesauce over the tortilla. Reserve 1/4 cup chunky applesauce for a tasty topping. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar over the applesauce. Top with cheese and the second tortilla. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the quesadilla to cool for two minutes. Cut the quesadilla into quarters and serve it with the reserved applesauce and vanilla yogurt.

Peanut butter and banana quesadilla

2 (6-inch) flour tortillas

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 small banana

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Put one tortilla on an ungreased cookie sheet. Spread one tablespoon of peanut butter on the tortilla. Slice the banana and place the slices on top of the peanut butter. Place the second tortilla on top. Bake at 400 degrees for five minutes. Allow the quesadilla to cool for two minutes and cut it into quarters.

Contact the writer at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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