A lot of people ask me what I eat for breakfast so I thought I would give everyone another glimpse into what our mornings look like with all the kids. If you ever thought that you didn’t have enough time to make breakfast- this article should set you straight! Enjoy and Happy Fathers Day to all the dads who wake up to make breakfast!
Breakfast On The Run- Healthy Eating With Kids
At 5:45 am Lucien, my 2 year old starts singing the theme song from Superman at the top of his lungs. I try to ignore him and pretend that I am still asleep in the hope that the universe will take pity on me and make him go back to sleep for another half hour- but no such luck. With no reaction, he starts belting out the theme from the Good The Bad And The Ugly- one of his favorites. Realizing that his Royal Highness had no intention of going back to bed, I get up and pluck him out of the crib. The kids are still asleep- thank goodness and my better (by far) half is still in dream world. After a night of ninjutsu classes- (I am the head instructor and Steph is one of my senior teachers) that go on until a little after midnight, we are both pretty beat. But today is my day to wake up and do the breakfast run, so I let her sleep a little longer.
Right now, my first order of business is dealing with Lucien’s diaper as a nighttime of use makes him feel about five pounds heavier when I lift him out of his crib. Thankfully, there are no unwanted surprises this morning and he is all too happy to have his pamper changed while humming the tune from the Spiderman cartoons (see a pattern here?). Pampers changed, Lucien runs off into the kids bedrooms screaming at the top of his lungs. For a second, I think of running after him so the other kids won’t be startled into consciousness by their little brother jumping on their chests and screaming their names in delight- but I think of the times that each one of them woke me up in just that fashion and leave him be. Payback! I am alone in the kitchen for a second before the cats get me. I’m their best friend first thing in the morning when they haven’t eaten in about 7 or 8 hours and are about to expire from lack of nourishment. It’s hard to walk with two cats rubbing against your shins competing for your attention but somehow I am able to feed them both without stepping on anyone.
Cats fed, the morning routine begins and I start getting breakfast ready. I have a total of five hungry kids to feed none of whom possess simple tastes. That being said, it isn’t uncommon for me to cook 5 different meals for each of them, in addition to what Steph and I will eat as well. Many have wondered if my family eats the way I do and the answer is yes and no. Yes, we as whole, only eat healthy foods- but I don’t really think it would make sense for my five year old to eat the same things his 225lb father with 6% body fat would eat. The cats would love to – but that’s another story. Stephanie, my (very) significant other eats extremely healthy as well and in a way the system of diet and exercise that I branded as Naturally Intense isn’t simply a platform created for my personal training business. It is instead very much our way of life and I am certainly fortunate to have a life partner who eats as healthy and who is as supportive as Stephanie is. Sustaining the body that I have worked the better part of 23 years building isn’t easy and having someone by your side who understands and respects your need to eat clean at all times is truly a Godsend. Very often when one person eats a certain way and their partner doesn’t, it can create major tension. The key is to always respect the other person’s choices and to be very much aware that just because you decide to change your life and eat better it doesn’t mean that anyone else around you is obligated to change theirs.
Breakfast On The Run- The Kids Wake Up
I punch in my for my shift as a short order cook at 6:30 am and I can hear the tribe waking up one by one as Lucien welcomes them into the new day at the top of his not so small lungs. The younger ones file into the kitchen one by one hugging my leg until I can’t walk very much anymore and again I am trying to not step on anyone. My 16 year old peeks into the kitchen bleary eyed and with the look of a man who hasn’t seen food since the 90’s and asks what’s for breakfast. The kids join in and I answer with my usual answer- which is ‘You’ll see’ and get the usual groans and complaints that I never say what I am cooking ahead of time. They file into the living room to watch Nick Jr. much to the chagrin of the older kids, but Lucien rules pretty much most of the time when it comes to what they watch on TV and so they sit to watch Elmo cavorting on the screen while my 16 year old pops out his tablet and starts surfing the web.
Everyone is having oatmeal today but along with it each of them have their individual orders to go with their main course. My 6 year old daughter, Indi, walks in to say good morning and hugs me so hard that I have to tap out! She always finds it strange that Daddy can’t breathe when she hugs my neck so hard that my eyes pop out! For breakfast, Indi will be having anywhere from 2 to 3 egg whites (often as much as 6 when she is in the mood!) so I put some eggs in some water to boil with Lucien helping me count them out. I put in 3 or 4 for Stephanie as well as she eats them but you won’t find me eating eggs anytime soon. Seventeen years of eating anywhere from 6 to a dozen eggs every morning has permanently blunted my taste for anything egg related. One day, I decided I couldn’t take it any more and haven’t had any for years. They are still a great source of protein but the memory of all those eggs- some of them eaten raw when I was back home in Trinidad and salmonella was not an issue keeps them off my plate.
My step-son, Paolo is 7 and quite the performer and the intellectual. He has a standing order of a special omelet that I make so I fire up the pan with some olive oil while he stands in the vestibule while I quiz him on his multiplication tables and we discuss the hardness of diamonds. Reid is the muscle of the group. Six years old but about as big as his two older siblings, he has a penchant for running into you at full speed and bringing home all sorts of animals that don’t really belong indoors. Reid isn’t into eggs- perhaps something he inherited genetically from the millions I ate before he was born, but has a taste for tuna fish, not unlike some cats that are still lingering in the kitchen waiting for the much anticipated sound of the can opener. Reid is an eater- he asks what’s for lunch right after breakfast and will hug you hard and not let go if you cook him curry chicken, but not a big breakfast eater. He’ll have some tuna with his oatmeal and of course some fruit.
Lucien is for all intents and purposes the man of the house and doesn’t wait for such trivialities as breakfast time to eat so he saunters into the kitchen and demands to be fed. He
spots the watermelon I’ve already cut and put into plates and grabs as much as his hand can hold while scurrying off into the living room to see Elmo- whom he affectionately refers to as ‘La-La’. Kuvonn, my 16 year old come in to see what’s ready to go to the table. He’s on the track team which is code for the fact that he will eat just about anything that isn’t bolted down. I’m making him 4 scrambled eggs (with one yolk tossed in) just the way he likes it with black pepper some Ms. Dash, Angostura bitters (don’t ask) and some green seasoning that I make myself. Paolo doesn’t like anything spicy in his eggs so I have to cook them separately sometimes. Sigh. Along with the fruit and oatmeal Kuvonn is all set for his day.
Most of the food is ready so Kuvonn starts bringing out the plates while looking on in dismay at the piling dishes in the sink. He has permanent dish washing duties until the others are tall enough to reach the sink and he dreads the aftermath that comes with cooking for seven of New York’s hungriest. While he carts stuff out, I have more countertop space to start preparing lunch for the little kids. Kuvonn goes to a private school where the meals are outstanding but I don’t put much faith in the public school lunches so we try to make something for the little ones every day. They really appreciate a home cooked meal at school- unless it’s Friday which is pizza day and then all bets are off. Sigh.
Breakfast On The Run-Getting Lunch Ready For The Day
Today the horde will be feasting on rice, peas and beef- a universal favorite. The rice is on and I am sautéing some steak strips in olive oil and by now I must have lost at least five pounds from the beads of sweat that are pouring down my brow. It’s a lot of work but it’s a small investment given the fact that all of our kids have learned to eat well and actually prefer home cooked meals to fast foods. You can’t really put a price on that! With the beef added to the rice and peas and the pot simmering nicely it’s time to make my breakfast. I make a huge batch of oatmeal which is prepared several different ways- I eat mine plain while Steph, Kuvonn and Lucien eat theirs with a hint of vanilla essence some strawberries, blueberries or whatever is in season and some raisins. Indi likes hers with the berries but no raisins. Paolo likes the raisins sometimes while Reid isn’t crazy about anything in his oatmeal except for the vanilla. All orders fixed, Kuvonn carries them in to the dining area (and he’ll make a great waiter one day I tell him) while I get the tuna fish.
I eat tongol tuna with no salt if I am not eating fresh fish of some sort as my protein for the morning. The cats get the tuna water and hopefully they will ignore me for the better part of the day. I will also have a grapefruit- although it is more like half a grapefruit these days as Lucien has taken a liking to them and insists on eating what is in my plate. Sigh. I always have some fruit for breakfast, (I try to eat them as they come into season as opposed to eating the same thing day in day out and today watermelon is in season so the kids will have a little treat. I’ll have 16 oz of water with all of my meals and I have a truly ugly cup that I use to get my water all in. It isn’t aesthetic as Steph has pointed out on occasion but it does do the job and is easier for me that having to drink two glasses of water. Besides there isn’t that much room on the table for another glass anyway!
The kids all drink water as well- thankfully- and we all sit down to eat. Lucien complains a bit when the TV goes off but we think it important for breakfast together to be an activity in
itself. Not something we do while watching TV. With breakfast eaten and the table and dining area looking very much like an active warzone it’s time for teeth to be brushed, clothes to be put on, and lunches to be packed. It’s 8:10 and we have to be at school to drop them off at 8:40 am. Kuvonn catches a school bus, but it is quite a challenge getting the others all to school on time as Indi and Reid go to one school and Paolo attends another about 10 minutes drive away. We strap them into the car seats and we are off to school with the sounds of the Good The Bad & The Ugly blaring in the car- one of Lucien’s special requests and we start the next phase of just another day with the kids. Thankfully Stephanie has cooking duties tomorrow!
Kevin Richardson is an award winning health and fitness writer and one of the most sought after personal trainers in New York City and the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training™. Get a copy of his free weight loss ebook here.