Best breakfasts

With diverse clhoces, there's no need to skimp on a good start to the day

With diverse clhoces, there's no need to skimp on a good start to the day

July 06, 2005|by KRISTIN WILSON

When it comes to eating breakfast, Hagers-town dietitian and nutritionist Cindy Held says it's time Americans start thinking outside of the cereal box.

Breakfast doesn't have to be about oatmeal, pancakes and muffins to be nutritious - it can be pizza, burritos and left-over casserole.

"You just want to get some energy into your body and you want it to be fairly nourishing," says Held, who is in private practice.


Medical research studies suggest eating a nutritious breakfast might provide more energy than an extra five or 10 minutes of sleep, Held says.

"Time invested in breakfast is much more valuable than the few extra minutes of sleep you might get," she says.

The body needs fuel in order to run properly. Breakfast might be the first time in 12 or 15 hours that the body receives nutrients.

Nutrition doesn't cost time

Preparing a nutritious, filling and tasty breakfast is easier than one might think, Held says. The trick is pairing breakfast items from different food groups.

Fruit-based smoothies are one of the quickest ways to blend multiple food groups into a portable breakfast food, Held says.

Recipes for smoothies are endless but often not needed. Fruit-based smoothies are made of fruit juice, fresh or frozen fruits, yogurt, milk and spices. Almost any combination of those ingredients, in various flavors, yields tasty results.

A fruit smoothie with milk or yogurt provides a serving of dairy and at least one serving of fruit, depending on how much is used. "If you can add some protein to it, that's wonderful," Held says. "And the berries have more fiber. That's going to satisfy you longer."

For people who prefer to have a meal with a spoon or fork, Held suggests taking the same ingredients and making fruit and yogurt parfaits. Low-fat yogurt, low-fat granola, and fruit can be layered in any order. The result is a tasty breakfast that provides servings from the grain, dairy and fruit categories.

With an option like fruit and yogurt "you're getting more of what your body needs for the day," Held explains. "Then you are off to a really good start."

Hold the pancakes, pass the pizza

If you're not into typical breakfast foods, pizza can be a decent choice, Held says.

Leftover pizza, ideally made from whole-wheat dough, topped with veggies or Canadian bacon and cheese would be a reasonable breakfast choice, Held says. It doesn't matter what the food looks like, just that breakfast components are nutritionally balanced.

Another nontraditional but nutritious breakfast food is a baked-bean tortilla, and it's easy to prepare. Held suggests warming up a whole-wheat tortilla and filling it with baked beans.

"Most baked beans are low-fat," she says. And they are a good source of protein.

If someone finds they are not hungry in the morning it could be because they are eating too late at night, Held says.

"A lot of people skip breakfast because they are not hungry because they ate so much the night before," she says. It is better to eat the majority of calories in the morning or mid-day hours when the body is generally more active.

Sometimes people just don't feel like eating first thing in the morning, Held explains. She recommends a "progressive breakfast" that can be taken to work. Pack a piece of fruit, whole-wheat crackers and some cheese to nibble on throughout the morning.

For something immediate, try granola bars or other energy bars. The trick is to look for meal bars or granola bars that carry 3 grams of fat or less, Held says. Three grams of fat is about 5 percent of what the average person should consume in a day. Bars also should contain at least 2 or 3 grams of fiber and not too much sugar. Kashi, Health Valley, Kellogg's and Healthy Choice are commonly found brands that carry low-fat granola varieties. Balance a granola bar choice with a piece of fresh fruit like a banana and some milk - that's three food groups.


A smoothie can be made of any combination of fruit juice, yogurt, milk, fresh or frozen fruits and spices. To make a basic yogurt shake, the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests:

1 carton nonfat yogurt

1 cup skim milk

1/2 to 1 cup fresh or frozen fruits of your choice

Place all three ingredients together in a blender and blend to desired consistency.

Strawberry Shake

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries

1 1/2 cups skim milk

2 tablespoons sugar (To sweeten without sugar, try honey, strawberry preserves or an artificial sweetener.)

Dash ground cinnamon

Combine the milk, sugar or sugar substitutes and cinnamon in a blender. Gradually add strawberries and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Serves 5.

-Recipe courtesy of North American Strawberry Growers Association

Berry Blue Smoothie

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1 (8-ounce) container of low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 cup milk

1 (6-ounce) can of unsweetened pineapple juice

3 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 cups ice cubes

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