What’s for breakfast?

By: Aug 03, 2011

Healthy tips to get your day off to a great start.

Whether you are an “on the go” breakfast eater or you prefer to sit down at the kitchen table and read the newspaper while you enjoy your food, it is important that it be well balanced and healthy. We have heard our entire lives that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and nothing has changed about this adage.

Given that breakfast continues to be the most important meal of the day, why wait until your late morning snack or lunch to start eating healthfully? Although it is better for your body if you slowed your eating pace and took time to enjoy your breakfast, given the “on the go” mentality that plagues most of the working world, the hope with this article is to focus on a nutritional breakfast.

Healthy Doesn’t Have to Mean Boring
Being mindful of the Food Pyramid, a healthy combination of grains, fruit, vegetables, protein and dairy is a great way to start your day. Here are some healthy ideas that will taste oh so yummy.

If you love having scrambled eggs for breakfast, that’s fine. Instead of four, have two and add some asparagus, spinach, broccoli and/or peppers. Rather than use white bread, which is really full of a whole lot of what you don’t need, substitute with whole wheat bread, a pita or a tortilla (whole wheat is, again, preferable). If you wanted to forgo the bread altogether, you could add slices of fruit to your plate. Indeed soft boiled or poached eggs are healthier, given that they weren’t fried in butter. Add some cilantro, herbs and/or some olives to turn otherwise bland eggs into something more exciting. If you are a fan of hot sauce, go ahead! Just make sure to read the ingredients to make sure that there’s more “hot” than filler.

Instead of buying fruit-filled yogurts, which are often filled with corn syrup, either make your own (not nearly as difficult as it sounds) or buy plain yogurt and add real fruit to a cup of yogurt to jazz it up. Although fruit does have sugar, it’s good sugar. It’s certainly better to eat “too many” blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, plums and bananas than too much bread, which turns into sugar. Add some granola, which gives you the grains and protein your body wants. This breakfast satisfies your dairy requirement plus you get fruit and protein to boot! If you are lactose intolerant soy yogurts offer the same amount of calcium, protein (more), vitamins, digestive promoting probiotics and fiber as do conventional yogurt.

Bagel, Cream Cheese and Lox
While cream cheese is fattening, the key here is moderation. Eating a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and lox gets you the protein, dairy and grains you need, and it’s a fun way to get your recommended daily allowance of each. Indeed salmon, with its bucket loads of Omega 3s, are a tasty way to get your 5 grams of protein in the morning. A caveat: just because you’re in the clear to eat cream cheese, doesn’t mean you can spread half the container on each bagel. It means a smear, which is less than a tablespoon, per bagel slice. For a little color and added yummy ness, add some capers, spinach or tomatoes.

Tofu, Yes Tofu and Fruit and Nuts Are Like Two Peas in a Pod
If you aren’t a person whose rigidity means that you can’t break from the traditional breakfast, here are some other ideas that might seem strange but are healthy, easy to prepare and delicious.

Baked tofu gets a very bad rap for being boring and slimy. Indeed all on its own it deserves that reputation. But if you cut it into several 1” cubes, then mix in a bowl the following:

  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • As much pepper to taste (black is fine, white is healthier)

Then take a brush and “paint” the mixture on the tofu and bake for 5-10 minutes (depends on your squeamish tolerance).

Tofu does your body so much good: it is jam packed with soy, which has protein, fiber and cholesterol lowering goodness. It is helpful for anyone but if you are a woman or someone who is concerned about cancer, you’ll love it even more. Clinical trials show that tofu reduces hot flashes, lowers the risk of breast cancer and other cancers, such as prostate, colon, ovarian, endometrial and myriad others. If eating tofu doesn’t excite you, substituting the whole milk in your coffee with vitamin-rich soy milk offers the same benefits. Adding fruit to your plate of baked tofu, while seemingly strange, gives you a well-balanced and delicious breakfast.

Surely you have had about the winning combination of apple slices and peanut butter. And before you assume that peanut butter is verboten if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight, it’s just not true! Peanuts and all nuts are what are known as good fat. Whether in butter form (many nuts can be made into a spread), or eaten whole, nuts offer you fiber and protein and suggested by nutritionists to eat in place of sugary or sodium-filled snacks. Cut apple slices into bite sized pieces and spread peanut butter. While it’s true that they are good fat, you still don’t want to go overboard on the peanut butter.

What to Drink for Breakfast?
Forget everything negative you’ve heard about coffee and tea. High in antioxidants, both are a healthy way to give you a boost in the morning. Just be careful what you are putting in your coffee and tea. Flavored creams are full of myriad ingredients that are difficult to pronounce and often have more fat, calories and no nutritional value whatsoever. Low fat or even skim milk is better and soy milk is fantastic. If you can, try to get used to the flavor of coffee sans sugar and rather than sugar, consider putting honey in your tea. But if you must use sugar, brown is much better than white.

Fruit juices are always recommended at breakfast. However, if you aren’t short on time, consider squeezing your own rather than getting store bought ones. Fresher means your oranges, apples, pears, mangos, etc. are retaining their vitamins more and you aren’t loading you up on high fructose corn syrup. Sugaring to taste or not at all means you are in control over how much sugar goes into your diet.

As you can see, breakfast can be healthy, fun to make and delicious. If you can take a few minutes extra in your day to make yourself a well-balanced breakfast, the benefits are innumerable.

  • Maintains your blood sugar levels
  • Gives you a boost without your body anticipating the sudden drop in insulin
  • Gets you 1/3 of the way toward satisfying your recommended daily allowances of what’s considered healthy for you to eat