How to Eat a Healthy Breakfast

3 May

Take a fresh look at what makes a nutritious breakfast and what foods are good to eat at the most important meal of your day.

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I must confess…breakfast is my very favorite meal.

Your breakfast choices lay the foundation for your entire day and your long-term health.  But you don’t have to stick with the traditional options.

imagesCA711VFRThe key to motivation in the morning  is to get out of a same-old-foods rut and kick-start the day with new, creative ideas.1101-healthy-habits-logo-x

For May’s Healthy Habits goal,  Cooking Light is challenging us to have a healthy meal every morning.  Eating breakfast resets the body’s metabolic motor after the night’s fast.  Plus, a good satisfying breakfast helps affirm your healthy-eating intentions for the whole day.

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Skipping breakfast sets you up for physical and mental lows and bad food choices when you pass the pastry counter at the local coffee shop.

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Most of us only have enough time to grab a cup of coffee on the way out the door to try to beat rush-hour traffic.

It is possible to eat a healthy breakfast and get out the door on time without having to wake up at the crack of dawn to make it possible.  These three options are my “go-to” items when I’m in a rush.

Stash go-to snacks at work.  A jar of peanut butter is a shelf-stable friend—perfect with graham crackers, whole-grain crackers, or apples, all of which you can keep in your desk drawer.  If there’s a fridge at work, start the week with a supply of yogurt, fresh fruit, or a few sticks of string cheese.

■Muffins are the ultimate make-ahead breakfast.  They’re freezer-friendly, quick to reheat, and satisfying.  Pair with yogurt for a more filling meal.

■Hard-boiled eggs.  If you don’t want to have to cook at all in the morning, you can still get your protein in the morning by hard-boiling some eggs at the beginning of the week. Just crack one open in the morning and eat it with some fruit or some whole-grain toast.

■Microwaved eggs.  You don’t have to stand over a hot stove to get a fresh and healthy breakfast.  Simply crack an egg or two into a small bowl, whisk them together, and pour them into a Ziplock bag that you have lined with spray oil.  Seal it and put it in the microwave for two minutes.  You’ll have a quick and easy omelet in no time. You can even add leftover veggies or cheese to make it more interesting and to get more nutrients.

■Oatmeal.  Oatmeal is a powerhouse breakfast that only takes a couple of minutes to make. Just add some water or milk to a bowl of rolled oats and put them in the microwave and you’ll get a breakfast that’s loaded with heart-healthy fiber and tons of nutrients. You can add toppings like fresh fruit or nut butter to give it an added boost.

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The modern time crunch is the worst enemy of breakfast.

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Here’s what you need to know:  Not just any breakfast will do.  Ideally, you should include whole grains, fruits and/or vegetables,  lean protein, and low-fat dairy.  Doing so incorporates two of the 12 Healthy Habits from previous months: whole grains and fruits/veggies.  This combination of nutrients can delay hunger symptoms and keep you feeling full throughout the day.”

 The goal is to eat something-it can even be as simple as an apple and a piece of cheese.

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10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas
  1. Build on a healthy cereal. Top a high-fiber cereal with a sprinkle of granola, bananas, and low-fat milk or plain yogurt. This combination provides good fiber and protein intake, plus calcium and potassium.
  2. Get off to a berry good start. Another possibility for breakfast is berries and low-fat Greek-style yogurt with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds. These foods are high in protein and volume, which can help you feel full longer.
  3. Take your nutrition to go. Smoothies are another smart choice when made with Greek-style low-fat yogurt, berries, and a touch of sugar. It’s a meal that’s high in protein, dairy, and volume, and it’s very portable if you’re in a hurry.
  4. Get a good “warm-up.” Susan B. Roberts, PhD, author of The Instinct Diet and professor of nutrition at the USDA Nutrition Center at Tufts University in Boston, recommends hot cereal: Microwave 1/4 cup each of instant oatmeal and coarse wheat bran with a cup of 1 percent milk. Served with berries and a little maple syrup, it’s the perfect start to the day with plenty of fiber and volume.
  5. Don’t skip the eggs. Hot breakfasts extend the range of possibilities. Scrambled eggs — one whole egg and one egg white — along with a piece of whole-wheat toast, lightly buttered, and some fruit on the side are high in protein and volume and make a great combination.
  6. Wrap up some burritos. Breakfast burritos can spice up your morning meal. Use the same scrambled egg recipe as in No. 5 as the filling for a low-carb, whole wheat (for extra fiber) wrap along with some salsa, low-fat sour cream, and a sprinkle of cheese.
  7. Call on cottage cheese. Cottage cheese along with fruit or nuts can be a good breakfast choice that’s high in protein plus some calcium. Look for cottage cheese brands that offer extra fiber.
  8. Ham it up. Even ham and eggs can be healthy when using one whole egg and one egg white in the scramble and two slices of lean Canadian bacon. Add half a grapefruit on the side and it’s a meal full of protein, fiber, and vitamin C.
  9. Don’t rule out a.m. vegetables. You can enjoy veggies with breakfast if you add them to some eggs. Dr. Roberts suggests cooking one and a half cups of sliced button mushrooms or one cup of lightly steamed vegetables (like broccoli or spinach), two beaten eggs, salt, and freshly ground pepper in a non-stick pan with one-half teaspoon of tub margarine. Add a dollop of ketchup, if desired.
  10. Think whole grain. Whole-grain English muffins with peanut butter or another nut butter and sliced fruit like apples or pears, along with a glass of milk, can be filling while providing protein and calcium.

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“If we skip breakfast, we’ll make unhealthier choices at lunch.  People who skip breakfast eat more during the day,” says Emily Banes, RD, clinical dietitian at the Houston Northwest Medical Center.  This is partly due to a thought process in which people believe — incorrectly — that if they don’t eat breakfast, they can eat more at lunch or dinner.

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What are your go-to recipes for breakfast when you’re in a rush?  Share your favorites in the comments!

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