KICK STARTS

Annabel Karmel suggests ways to steer your child away from sugary cereals; BREAKFASTS
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The oldest man in Scotland, David Henderson, celebrated his 107th birthday this year and he attributes his longevity and health to his daily bowl of porridge. Nutritionists say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and many youngsters, who have had their evening meal at around five o'clock, will have fasted for 14 hours. The brain needs a good kick start to prepare it for the day ahead.

For cereal manufacturers are concerned, there is a conflict between healthy diets and healthy profits. Supermarket shelves are filled with sugary cereals and what was a healthy breakfast option is looking increasingly like a bowl of sweets. But old-fashioned cereals such as Cornflakes, Shreddies and Weetabix contain minimal amounts of sugar and can be recommended.

Aim to balance your children's breakfast to ensure they get the nutrition and energy they need. Try to include bread or wholegrain cereal, eggs or dairy products and fresh fruit each morning.

HEALTHY BREAKFAST IDEAS

n Fruit with a yoghurt and honey dip

n Porridge with chopped dried fruits

n Make scrambled eggs more exciting by adding cheese and tomatoes, sweet pepper and onion, or chives

n Toasted sandwiches made with fillings like pineapple, cheese and ham

n French toast made with raisin bread

n Boiled egg with Marmite soldiers

n Milkshake made with fresh strawberries, banana and milk

MUFFIN IF NOT DELICIOUS

These apple and carrot muffins are just the right size for children and make good portable food for breakfast on the run.

Makes 12 muffins

120ml/4fl oz vegetable oil

3 eggs lightly beaten

60g/2oz soft brown sugar

60g/2oz castor sugar

115g/4oz grated carrots

2 apples, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

90g/312oz wholemeal flour

115g/4oz self-raising flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

12 teaspoon salt

12 teaspoon ground cinnamon

12 teaspoon ground ginger

40g/112oz pecans, finely chopped (optional)

75g/3oz raisins

In a large bowl mix together the first seven ingredients. In another bowl sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Gently fold in the nuts (if using) and the raisins. Spoon into a prepared muffin tray lined with paper cases and bake in an oven pre-heated to 350F/180C/Gas 4 for 25 to 30 minutes.

SUMMER FRUIT MUESLI

After soaking the oats, stir in extra fruits such as peaches or strawberries for a tasty nutritious muesli. This can also be blended to a puree for babies.

Makes 4 portions

115g/4oz porridge oats

2 tablespoons sultanas or raisins

300ml/10fl oz freshly squeezed orange juice

2 eating apples, peeled and grated

4-6 tablespoons milk

a little honey (optional)

Mix the oats, sultanas and orange juice in a bowl, cover and leave overnight in the fridge. In the morning stir in the remaining ingredients and any extra chopped fruit and drizzle over a little honey if you wish.

BREAKFAST IN BREAD

Serve these puffy cheese toasties on their own or topped with some thinly sliced tomato.

Makes 4 portions

4 slices wholemeal bread

30g/1oz butter

1 tablespoon plain flour

150ml/14 pint milk

100g/312oz Edam or Cheddar cheese, grated

14 teaspoon dried mustard

12 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 eggs, separated

Melt 15g (12oz) of the butter in a small pan, stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Gradually stir in the milk, bring to the boil and then simmer until thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and egg yolks. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold into the cheese mixture. Toast the bread, spread with the remaining butter and top with the cheese mixture. Arrange some sliced tomatoes on top if you wish and cook under a pre-heated grill for about three minutes.

ANNABEL KARMEL'S QUICK CHILDREN'S MEALS

Independent on Sunday readers can order Annabel Karmel's new book, Quick Children's Meals, published in hardback by Ebury Press, by post or phone. Containing over 170 recipes, of which at least 100 are suitable for vegetarians, the book enables even the busiest parent to cook a variety of nutritionally balanced meals in less than 30 minutes. Quick Children's Meals costs pounds 10.99.

To order: complete the form below and send with a cheque made payable to `Cooking for Children' to: Cooking for Children, 49 Berkeley Square, London W1X 5DB. Or call the credit card hotline on 0171 355 4555. Orders normally processed within 48 hours.

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