by Selva Wohlgemuth, Co-op News contributor
Selva Wohlgemuth, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist
Dear Nutritionist: In the past, I always had good intentions of providing a healthy breakfast before the kids left for school. However, more than not I easily succumb to the quick and easy, not so healthy options like cereal and milk. Now that school has started, and the busy mornings are upon us, do you have any suggestions for quick AND healthy breakfast ideas that are not cereal?
Understandably, mornings can often get hectic. However, a little advance preparation can result in a good breakfast routine. The key to a superstar breakfast for anyone young or old, is making sure to have adequate protein, whether it’s plant or animal based. Although cereal and milk can be quick and easy, it just doesn’t provide the protein punch to keep you going until lunch. Also, most cereals come with a ton of added sugar. A low protein breakfast can easily make you hungry and ravenous just a couple hours later. For sustained energy and concentration, a combination of both protein and fat along with a whole grain or a piece of fruit can help slow the blood sugar rise and mellow the blood sugar drop after your meal.
Research studies have found that a high protein breakfast better curbs hunger than a high carbohydrate breakfast by reducing hunger hormones after the meal and slowing stomach emptying. Furthermore, a recent study on overweight teens, found that a high protein breakfast which contained 35g of protein, prevented body fat gain and stabilized blood sugar levels among teens who would normally skip breakfast.
Say NO to These Common Breakfast Meals
- Instant Oatmeal Packets or Quick Oats: Usually instant oatmeal packets are sweetened with added sugar. Plus, the quick oats have been refined to have less fiber, which allows them to cook quickly. Without the added fiber they will quickly spike your blood sugar, especially if they are made with water and topped with added brown sugar and raisins. Instead, opt for old fashioned rolled oats or steel cut oats topped with a handful of nuts and Greek yogurt.
- Cereal or Granola with Less Than 1 to 2g of Fiber per 10g of Carbohydrates: Many breakfast cereals have been highly processed and sweetened. This makes the cereal very easy to digest and quickly spikes blood sugars. Choose one that is less processed and contains adequate fiber. I like Blue Heron Bakery Granola, which is sweetened only with dates.
- Toast with Butter and Jam: One simple swap can make this a better start to the day. In place of the butter and jam, top whole wheat bread with natural almond or peanut butter.
- Just Fruit: Fruit is a healthy whole food. However, when eaten without adequate protein it can quickly spike blood sugars. For a better alternative pair fruit with a handful of nuts or a scoop of nut butter.
- Flavored Low Fat Yogurts: Dairy products such as regular yogurt and milk contain natural milk sugars. If choosing a low fat, sweetened dairy product, blood sugars will spike and crash. Plus, if you pair these with fruit, then it is a double whammy. Instead choose whole fat plain yogurts to increase satiety and stabilize blood sugars. An even better option would be plain Greek yogurt, which is naturally higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurt.
- Sweetened Coffee Drink: Skipping breakfast and instead drinking a flavored sweetened coffee beverage will do you more harm than good if wanting to maintain focus and energy. If unable to make time for a substantial breakfast, order a coffee with a little splash of half and half and buy a few hardboiled eggs.
- Granola Bar: Granola bars are often high in easy to digest carbohydrates and low in fiber, protein, and fat. Instead opt for a new “crunchy” Lara Bar or an RX Bar for more stable energy and satiety.
Say YES to These Balanced Breakfast Meals
Granola with Yogurt and Berries
INGREDIENTS: ½ cup Blue Heron Bakery Granola + 1 cup Nancy’s Full Fat Plain Yogurt + ½ cup blackberries
DIRECTIONS: Place the yogurt in a bowl and top with granola and berries.
INGREDIENTS: ½ cup old fashioned oats + 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds or chia seeds + 1 scoop protein powder + 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt + 1 cup of milk/nut milk + 1 tablespoon maple syrup + pinch of salt + ½ cup frozen berries or diced fruit
DIRECTIONS: Combine all the ingredients except the fruit in a 16-ounce mason jar, put on lid, and shake vigorously until all the ingredients are fully combined. Top with fruit, put on lid, and refrigerate overnight.
Avocado & Egg Toast
INGREDIENTS: 1 toasted hearty slice of whole grain Bread Farm Bread + ½ avocado + 1 olive oil fried egg + optional sliced tomato
DIRECTIONS: Spread the avocado on the toasted bread, layer with tomato slices and a pinch sea salt. Top with fried egg.
Grab & Go
INGREDIENTS: 1 hardboiled egg + ¼ cup of trail mix + 1 piece of fruit
Simple Fruit & Veggie Smoothie
INGREDIENTS: 1 scoop protein power + 1 medium banana + handful spinach/kale + 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 1 cup milk/nut milk + 1 tablespoon nut butter + ice cubes
DIRECTIONS: Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Add optional squeeze of lemon juice for added zest.
Quinoa Egg Breakfast Cup
INGREDIENTS: 2 eggs + handful spinach (or any leftover dinner veggie) + ½ cup cooked quinoa + sprinkle feta cheese + salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS: Oil a mug or bowl with olive oil or butter. Whisk the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining ingredients until combined. Transfer to the oiled mug/bowl and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until cooked through.
Hearty Mug Breakfast Burrito
INGREDIENTS: 9-inch whole wheat flour tortilla + 2 eggs + salsa + onion + canned beans + cheese
DIRECTIONS: Press the whole-wheat flour tortilla into a large mug. Crack in your eggs and whisk with a fork while being careful not to tear the tortilla. Stir in some salsa, a little chopped onion, a couple tablespoons canned beans and a sprinkle of cheese as desired. Cook on high in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Top with optional avocado and hot sauce.
Balanced Dinner Leftovers
Leftovers are not just for lunch or dinner. They are great especially when you are having a hectic morning. Just make sure there is a protein (seafood, meats, beans, legumes, tofu or tempeh, etc.), a whole grain starch (potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, etc.), and veggies.