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Breakfast: Make it a priority

December 09, 2008|By LYNN F. LITTLE

Don't leave home without it. Eating breakfast is associated with a better attitude toward work or school, higher productivity and an improved ability to handle tasks that require memory.

Breakfast doesn't have to be an egg over easy with a side of bacon and toast. A breakfast of string cheese and an apple takes less than a minute to prepare and can be eaten on the go. Peanut butter on a toasted whole wheat English muffin with a glass of milk takes a few seconds longer to prepare, but still provides necessary nutrients to get a body off to a good start.

Both of these menus are good breakfast choices.

Protein and fiber

It is always important to start the day with a source of protein. Dairy products are excellent choices for protein and for getting the first of three daily servings of dairy. Try adding fiber to the morning menu, which can be anything that comes from plants -- fruits, vegetables or whole grain.

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To make breakfast a morning priority, think about the time you can give to breakfast. Is it zero to two minutes, five minutes, or 10 minutes? In 10 minutes you can fix and eat a bowl of whole grain cereal, with a cup of milk and some fruit. That would provide great fuel for your body from three food groups, which is an excellent way to start the day.

Stock your pantry with quick-to-fix foods, such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, instant oatmeal, bagels, English muffins, bread for toast, toaster waffles, fresh fruit, yogurt, juice or milk. Do as much preparation as possible the night before. Make a pitcher of juice and place dishes, utensils and nonperishable foods on the table.

Leftover pizza for breakfast? Sure.

Not hungry before you leave the house -- but starving as soon as you hit your office? No time to sit down for breakfast?

Have easy, no-mess options available so you can grab them as you walk out the door. Pack a breakfast bar and a banana, or trail mix and string cheese. Breakfast is so important that if eating it on the go is your only option, then do it that way.

Don't like traditional breakfast food? Breakfast doesn't have to consist of cereal, toast and juice. Breakfast can be any food that sounds good to you.

For example, try a slice of last night's cheese pizza, heated leftover rice with chopped apples, nuts and cinnamon, or a breakfast wrap with cut-up fresh fruit and low-fat cream cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla.

Most people know that it's important to "break" their overnight "fast" with a morning meal. Having some quick nutritious options on hand and taking time to eat them is very important to good health.

The important thing to remember -- eat something, anything, for breakfast.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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