It’s true, you never should skip breakfast. However, I know that some of you are in the habit of missing the most important meal of the day. The truth is, our bodies need energy to sustain us from sun up to sun down. So start yours out right, and feel better knowing that there are many healthy options to choose from. It’s easy to include a variety of different foods, which can help break up the monotony of a week day.
Just think about the components to creating your breakfast – 1 serving of a whole grain carbohydrate, 1 serving of a nutrient dense fruit, and 1 serving of a calcium/protein source. This is an easy guide to help complete your first meal of the day.
1. Oatmeal is a fantastic source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce LDL (the bad) cholesterol without reducing HDL (the good) cholesterol. It also slows the digestion of starch, which can help you avoid the sharp rise in blood sugar level after you eat. The best choice is steel-cut oats, which are whole oats that are cut into 2-3 pieces, they are less processed, take longer to digest, and leave you feeling full longer. Rolled oats are oats that have been flattened out with a roller and take less time to prepare. Rolled oatmeal is the next best thing if you’re in a hurry, but try to stay away from the prepackaged instant oatmeal since they are packed with salt, sugar, and extra chemicals and preservatives.
Try a few different ways to enjoy your oatmeal: Mix in a splash of low-fat, skim or soy milk, blueberries, walnuts, and/or cinnamon.
2. Eggs are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D, are great for the eyes, and may help prevent blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke. Make them how you like it – scrambled, over medium, or omelet style – they’re all good. One egg contains 6 grams of protein and has 9 essential amino acids. Keep in mind the amount of cholesterol you consume, including that which comes in the yolk of an egg. However, egg whites contain no cholesterol. Choose free-range or cage-free eggs over farm-raised or cage-fed eggs if you want to feel humane.
Add on 1 serving of cheese, a piece of bread (Ezekiel, pumpernickel, rye, or whole grain) and a small glass of fresh, self-squeezed OJ to help reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels.
3. Parfait is a quick and easy homemade delicacy. I recommend using Greek yogurt; it is thick, creamy, rich, and doesn’t give you the sugar overload found in more readily available processed yogurts. Yogurt promotes intestinal health, improves lactose intolerance, enhances immunity, builds stronger bones, lowers blood pressure, and may even have anticancer and weight-loss effects. Oh, and just FYI, the Grecians believe that yogurt is an aphrodisiac!
Try a layering effect with 1/3 cup yogurt, 1/3 cup organic granola, low in sugar (Bear Naked, Cascadian Farms, and Kashi are good sources) and 1/3 cup of any fresh seasonal berries such as blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, or strawberry.
5. Potatoes are a delicious breakfast item when prepared homemade style. Potatoes are high in potassium, which can help to reach optimal muscle performance and improve the nerves’ response to stimulation. Potatoes also contain iron, which helps the body convert food to energy and resist infection. Go ahead and keep the skins on, because that is where most of the fiber, vitamins and minerals are. Try using redskin potatoes; Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, toss in the cubed cut potatoes and caramelize some yellow onions. Throw in a serving of chopped green pepper and season it with a pinch of sea salt and pepper and you’ve got yourself a meal – save the rest for later!
Serve with a side of eggs and half a red-grapefruit for a punch of Vitamin C.
6. Pancakes can be healthy too, believe it or not. Opt for the certified organic, whole grain mix – since whole grains help reduce the risk for heart attacks. But instead of the typical fatty butters and sugary syrups, try slathering some smooth or crunchy peanut butter or almond butter. It will melt into a creamy syrup over the warm pancake or waffle, while adding protein to the plate.
Try mixing in fruit: smashed or cubed bananas, strawberries or blueberries for extra flavor, fiber, and vitamins.
7. Smoothies for breakfast are one of the easiest things to make and take when you’re on the go. Made from scratch, of course, throw in any combination of fruits or veggies, or both! Your body pulls water from foods in order to stay hydrated, so this will help to quench your thirst. Smoothies made with milk or yogurt are great for the calcium component and will help to build stronger bones. You can get a great amount of vitamins and minerals in your home made concoctions, so be creative! But if you’re watching your weight or counting calories, don’t forget, they can add up fast – especially when they’re sucked through a straw.
Try these combinations or mix and match: mango-banana-peach, strawberry-blueberry-apple, pineapple-raspberry-orange, carrot-spinach-celery, cucumber-tomato-avocado