Building a Better Breakfast

Jessica Harlan by Jessica Harlan | July 1st, 2008 | 1 Comment
topic: Green Living

I’ve never understood people who skip breakfast. I can barely function without a cup (or three) of coffee, and I need to eat within an hour of waking up or I’m cranky the rest of the day.

Coffee is one of the few addictions I have, and I’m stubbornly clinging to the theories that coffee is good for you. But as for the rest of my morning repast, I’ve recently done a little overhaul on my typical choices, in an effort to start the day with a healthier, more satisfying meal. After all, mom was right, and breakfast is important. Experts say that eating breakfast can even help you lose weight.

Whether you only have time for a quick bowl of cereal, or you want a leisurely weekend brunch that’s still got some nutritively redeeming qualities, use these tips to make your breakfast better for you:

Cold Cereal: The good news is, there is a plethora of choices when it comes to good-for-you cereal out. The bad news is, they’re not so easy to find. Look for cereal that is labeled “whole grain,” and which has at least 4 or 5 grams of fiber per serving. Other healthy ingredients that are trending in cereal include almonds, flax seed and even green tea. When you’re fixing your bowl of cereal, it’s easy to overdo it. Check out the serving size (typically 1/2 to 3/4 cups) and use a measuring cup to make sure you’re not accidentally eating a double portion.

Also, think beyond just milk (skim, of course). If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, you can use soy or rice milk. I also like to make “breakfast parfaits” by layering granola-type cereal (my current favorites are Kashi GoLean Crunch and Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Granola), with nonfat vanilla yogurt and chopped fresh fruit. And my husband even takes a portable version of this to work by measuring cereal into a container and stirring it into a single-serving carton of yogurt at his desk.

Oatmeal: High in heart-healthy fiber already, oatmeal can be made even more nutritious by cooking it with skim milk instead of water. I like to mix in a couple of tablespoons of wheat germ and sprinkle my oatmeal with toasted flax seeds. Try adding canned pumpkin (the kind used to make pies) to the milk as it’s heating up; about 1/4 cup for every two servings.

Eggs: This classic breakfast item no longer has the bad rap it once had; it turns out eggs are very good for you, and the threat to your cholesterol levels is overhyped. Even when I’ve been dieting, I’ve never cared for egg-white-only omelets, but I’ve discovered that subbing a couple of egg whites for whole eggs when you’re scrambling eggs or making an omelet can cut down on fat without noticeable effect.

On weekends, my husband’s famous frittata ensures we get our quota of veggies. In an ovenproof nonstick skillet, he sautees broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and whatever else is in the refrigerator. Then he pours a half-dozen beaten eggs into the pan, sprinkles it with a little cheese, and cooks it in the oven (at 350?F) until the eggs are set.

Pancakes: Our other favorite weekend dish is pancakes. But we no longer have to feel guilty about this sweet treat: I substitute a combination of whole wheat flour and flax meal for the white flour, and fold blueberries into the batter. Fresh or frozen berries can also be cooked for about 5 to 10 minutes in a saucepan to make a compote that’s far healthier than Mrs. Butterworth syrup.

What are some of your healthy breakfast ideas?


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