Category Archives: Breakfast

Hot or Cold Breakfast?

Every busy mother knows that sometimes there simply is not enough time to prepare a hot breakfast. We have all been there. When it happens, it is so easy to pour a bowl of sugary cereal and call it a day. On occasion such a breakfast is not going to ruin your children’s health (or yours); but, as a regular diet, it is an unhealthy choice.

If you must eat cereal, at least choose those that are not completely loaded with sugar such as Grape Nuts or Shredded Wheat. And . . . also be sure to add some fresh fruit and/or raw chopped nuts into the mix.

I have written numerous times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and you probably agree with me – at least on some level. Which brings up the question – which is better a hot or cold breakfast?

Bowl of hot oatmeal breakfast cereal with fresh berries
Image by elenaphoto

There is a recent study which supports the theory that children who eat cereal each day are actually less likely to develop obesity than those who eat a hot breakfast. But, can you trust one report when there are many others that indicate cold cereal is not be the best choice.

The most important point is to ensure that your child (and you) eat something (hot or cold) – preferably something healthy. There are many reliable studies that indicate children who skip breakfast are more likely to become overweight and obese than those who eat breakfast – plus breakfast is critical to the cognitive development and learning abilities of children, as well.

Let’s take a quick look at both:

Cold Breakfast

  • In the heat of summer, a good whole grain cereal with cold milk can taste great.
  • Some cereals contain a good source of vitamins and fiber. However, the big challenge is to find a cold cereal that is NOT loaded with sugar.
  • On the plus side, whole grain cereals have less fat than a ‘traditional’ hot breakfast of bacon and eggs.
  • Some nutritionists recommend alternating cold whole grain cereals with the more traditional breakfast of bacon and eggs. This can help control weight as well as possibly reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease when the sugar content is kept to a minimum.
  • There are many choices of cereal so be extremely careful about the ones you purchase for your family.

Hot Breakfast

  • Hot breakfasts are a great choice on cold days. They help warm the body as well as provide the energy needed to get through the morning.
  • Most hot  breakfast meals will have limited amounts of sugar or at least give you the option of controlling how much sugar is consumed because they are primarily prepared from scratch rather than poured from a box.
  • Hot cereals such as oatmeal also give you the option of adding other healthy ingredients you typically do not get in packaged cold cereals.

The bottom line in this debate is that everyone should eat breakfast – children, teens, and adults (and I am not talking about coffee and doughnuts).

The principles of good nutrition should be considered regardless of whether you are choosing hot or cold breakfast foods. Low or no sugar, controlled fat intake, and nutrient-filled foods – preferably dishes prepared from scratch will keep you in the healthy zone.

Make good decisions for your family when planning any meal and ensure longer, healthier lives.

 

Breakfast Smoothies for Busy Days

Image by MSPhotographic
Image by MSPhotographic

Consider breakfast smoothies for busy days when life takes over and there is simply no time to cook. Being rushed is not an excuse to let anyone go without a nutritious start to the day.

I have included some tips and a number of recipes for those incredibly busy days. The recipes can also be used for picky eaters or family members who insist they do not like breakfast.

When you need something easy and quick, breakfast smoothies are a great choice. If you have not tried this popular option, now is the time to do so. They are extremely tasty and loaded with nutrition when made from scratch.

One breakfast option is an “instant breakfast” mix, but I do not recommended them – too many additives and too much sugar!  On the other hand, when creating your own smoothies, you know exactly what is going into them. They are typically loaded with fresh or frozen fruits and other natural ingredients such as honey, and yogurt.

The bare essentials for a fruit smoothie are fruit (fresh or frozen), ice, a little sweetener (honey is best), and some type of liquid (milk, almond milk, coconut water, water). Of course, you can branch out from there.

Basic Guidelines

  • Start with a clean blender.
  • Cut up the fruit the night before.
  • Freeze some of the fruit to limit the amount of ice you need.
  • Include green, leafy or other vegetables and carrots for added nutrients.
  • Measure out the liquid you will use and place it in a specific container in the refrigerator.

The more you can prepare the night before, the quicker it will be to make your smoothie in the morning. As you know, when time is at a premium, every minute you save counts.

The liquid you use is entirely up to you – it is a personal preference. Some people like to use regular milk (my choice). Others prefer rice milk, coconut milk (or water), or almond milk. You can also use kefir whey, fruit juice, vegetable juice, or water. NOTE: Each one adds a specific flavor and consistency. 

Below are some recipes for you to try – plus you can be as inventive as you wish.  ENJOY!

Protein Shake

  • 1¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash of salt
  • Small handful of ice

Place all ingredients in the blender except for the ice cubes. Cover and then blend for one minute on medium. Add the ice cubes, cover and then blend for another minute on high.

FRUIT SMOOTHIES

Strawberry-Apricot Smoothie

  • 1 fresh apricot, medium ripe
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1/3 cup cold unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons local honey
  • Ice, enough for desired consistency

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Apricot-Pineapple-Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup apricots, washed, pitted and cut in quarters
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • ½ cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • ½ cup coconut water or unsweetened almond milk
  • Local honey to taste
  • Ice, enough for desired consistency

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves two).

Cherry-Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen red cherries, pitted
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • ½ fresh orange, pitted and cut into chunks
  • Local honey to taste
  • ½ tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • ½ cup coconut water, unsweetened almond milk, or water
  • Ice, enough for desired consistency

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves two).

COMBO SMOOTHIES

Banana-Honey Smoothie

  • 1 ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ almond milk or regular milk
  • 2 vanilla wafers
  • ¾ tablespoon local honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Large handful of ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 5 almonds
  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup milk or almond milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
  • Large handful of ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Chocolate-Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup milk or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 2-3 teaspoons local honey

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Creamy Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

  • ½ cup milk or almond milk, more as needed to reach desired consistency
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger (optional)
  • Local honey to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (serves one).

Orange Julius Smoothie

  • Juice of three ripe oranges
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons unrefined sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Large handful of ice.

Blend ingredients at high speed until the mixture is frothy. Serve immediately (serves one).

Creamsicle Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled, sliced, and frozen (overnight)
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 orange, peeled and cut into chunks
  • ¾ cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • Ice (optional, but nice if you like to thicker)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice and freeze the bananas overnight.
  2. Make the freshly-squeezed juice first.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  4. Blend until well combined and smooth (serves two).

NOTE: If you want a true Creamsicle flavor – omit the carrot.

Low-Calorie Energy Booster

  • 1 banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1 large tablespoon pure almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Local honey, to taste
  • 12 ounces of pure, unsweetened coconut water
  • Ice – to desired consistency

Blend all ingredients together until smooth (serves one).

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

I just found this recipe on Pinterest and couldn’t resist it – looks so good and goes with the season (Autumn) and would probably be good anytime of the day.  Hope you enjoy it. Found it on LemonTreeDwelling.com.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c. vanilla yogurt (not plain)
  • 2 oz. frozen pumpkin puree (or 2 pumpkin puree “ice cubes”)
  • 1/2 frozen banana, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I used homemade – recipe below)
  • 1 cinnamon stick for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-freeze pumpkin puree by dividing 1 (15 oz.) can into an ice cube tray and freezing. (You will have enough to fill more than one tray.)
  2. Combine all ingredients (except cinnamon stick) in blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into glass; garnish with a cinnamon stick.Makes 1 smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Spice (from Allrecipes.com)
4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
4 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 tsp. ground ginger
3 tsp. ground allspice

Closing Thoughts

These breakfast smoothies are nutritious alternatives for your family when there is so little time in the morning. They taste great and are good for you. Be aware that your family may enjoy them so much, they may become a habit. The good news is – they can make them for themselves. All you have to do is have the ingredients available.

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Breakfast for Picky Eaters

You have probably heard all your life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and I heartily agree.  This is true for everyone and especially for children.  Unfortunately, there are some people who simply do not like breakfast foods, which I personally do not understand, but nevertheless, it is true.  If you or someone in your family happens to be one of that group, you may have to be innovative and creative to find alternatives for those picky eaters.

You can start with the following and create your own from there . . .

Image by: Tomasz Stasiuk
Image by: Tomasz Stasiuk

Banana or Pumpkin Bread – Bake several loaves, slice and freeze in small plastic freezer bags. It is unusual for anyone to turn down a slice or two of homemade banana or pumpkin bread. For an extra nutritional bump, add nuts (walnuts or pecans are perfect).  Serve a couple of warm slices with a little butter and a glass of cold milk or freshly-squeezed orange juice and you have a nutritious, delicious breakfast.

Green Smoothies – Initially your picky eaters may hesitate because of the color, but they can be tasty and provide a healthy, nutritious breakfast. They can be made with frozen pineapple and banana slices, apples, oranges, dates, pitted cherries, strawberries, almonds plus plenty of baby spinach or kale for the green ingredients. Try various combinations until you find the ones you like best. You can also add ice to make them slushier – or plain Greek yogurt  or almond milk to make them creamier.  If you need sweetener, add a little local honey or Stevia, but go easy.  A dash of salt also enhances the flavor.

Almond Buter Trader JoesAlmond Butter Sandwiches – Most picky eaters will eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when all else fails.  I would recommend switching it up with almond butter, which is a little healthier choice – cashew butter can also be a nice change.  Whichever you choose be sure you purchase brands that are pure nut butters – nuts and salt ONLY, nothing more.  Make the sandwiches with hearty whole-grain bread and go very light on the jelly (and always use fruit-only jelly) or use local honey instead.

Omelets – Rather than plain old scrambled eggs, make them interesting by creating omelets. Add sautéed vegetables (onions, green pepper and mushrooms) along with plenty of your child’s favorite cheese.

Bagels – This is one that I learned to love when I lived in New York City. Now they are available everywhere, but some are better than others. The best ones I have found are Bruegger’s Bagels and Safeway Grocery Stores (which are actually pretty good).  If you have not tried them, you are in for a treat. They can be served plain or toasted; spread with butter and a little fruit-only jam, cream cheese, or nut butter.  They also make tasty sandwiches. Try them soon.

Image by: bodrumsurf
Image by: bodrumsurf

Fruit and Cheese – This is a great option for family member who shy away from breakfast.  Most people like at least one type of cheese, which is a good source of protein. Serve favorite cheese slices, whole grain crackers, and sliced fresh fruit – apples, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, or grapes. A dish of cottage cheese with sliced fruit is also good. This may not be a traditional breakfast, but it works well.

Fruit and YogurtI am NOT talking about prepared, sweetened yogurt with fruit at the bottom!  Use only plain Greek yogurt, with sliced strawberries, blueberries or cantaloupe – drizzled with a little local honey. YUM!  You can also top with a tablespoon or two of fresh homemade granola (the boxed version has too many additives and too much refined sugar).

Deviled Eggs – These can be made the night before and served with a slice of whole wheat toast – quick and easy.

Overnight Oatmeal This is a great choice because it is a healthy base to which you can add ingredients that fit your picky eater’s palate. Also, it is very convenient because you make it the night before, put it in the fridge, and serve with the additional preferred ingredients.

Muffin Fritatas – I just found this recipe and it is great – high-protein, low-carb and tasty. This site has other excellent egg recipes you may want to try for healthy, delicious breakfast alternatives.  There is another site for Egg Muffin Recipes that you should check out as well.

As a parent you want your family to be healthy and happy. If some of them fall into the picky eater category, you may be concerned that they are not getting the nutrients they need – and rightfully so; but insisting they eat foods they do not like is probably not a very successful or pleasant experience.

Offer healthy foods that they prefer, even though they may not be traditional breakfast foods, which could include nuts, avocado slices, apples, cheese, fruits of all kinds, whole-grain or protein pancakes, hard boiled eggs or hearty healthy muffins.

Eat and enjoy healthy foods!

Oatmeal to Go!

Bowl of hot oatmeal breakfast cereal with fresh berries
Image by elenaphoto

Today’s posting, Oatmeal to Go, is the last of three collections of healthy breakfast suggestions. I hope you enjoy them and find some new ways to feed your family the most important meal of the day.

This is one of my favorites. It can be prepared the night before, or quickly in the morning just before you rush off to work – and it is absolutely nutritious and delicious. After you try it, you will wonder how you lived so long without knowing about this simple healthy breakfast treat.

You need a few basic ingredients and you are set to create your own personal versions of “Oatmeal to Go.”

What you need:

  • Medium-small containers with lids (covered dishes, mason jars, etc.)
  • Insulated bag for travel.
  • Oats (I prefer Quick Oats for morning prep, but you can us Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, if you plan to do the overnight version)
  • Liquid of choice: regular milk, half-and-half, almond milk, soy milk, juice, or water.
  • Plain Greek yoghurt (optional)
  • Sweeteners – My recommendation is local honey (a couple of teaspoons) or pure maple syrup (1/2 teaspoon is usually adequate). Avoid artificial sweeteners and refined sugar of any kind if you want to keep the dish as healthy as possible.
  • Spices and flavoring – Experiment with these to discover your taste delights. I often use cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. You can also use cocoa powder, ¼ teaspoon lemon zest, ¼ tsp vanilla extract or ¼ teaspoon coconut extract.
  • Fruit of choice – I always use bananas (can be mashed or chopped) and sometimes add fresh blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries, but any fruit will work (peaches, nectarines, apples, grapes, etc.) You can also use raisins, dried cranberries, and dried cherries.
  • Nuts or toasted coconut (for crunchiness) – Whatever you choose, they should be chopped and a large tablespoon is a good portion. My preference is pecans, but almonds, walnuts and pine nuts are filled with nutrients and add different flavors.
  • Almond and/or Peanut Butter – the pure kind, nuts and salt only (no additives).

Preparation:

You have three choices.

1. Prepare the night before (best if using Old-Fashioned Rolled oats). Mix the oats, yoghurt, banana, honey or syrup, and liquid together. Stir well. Be sure it is a soupy consistency. Use plenty of liquid because it will soak up during the night. Cover well and store in the refrigerator.

– In the morning, stir well and add additional liquid if needed. Top with any fruit and nuts, coconut, granola, and/or a tablespoon of nut butter (almond butter is particularly tasty).

– Cover and pack in an insulated bag for travel.

– Refrigerate until ready to eat.

– Stir and ENJOY!

2. Prepare in the morning (use Quick Oats for this version). Mix everything together, adding enough liquid to bring it to a slightly thinner consistency than you want it to be when you eat it. The oats will soak up some of the liquid.

– Top with fruit, nuts, granola, etc. and a tablespoon of nut butter.

– Cover and pack in an insulated bag for travel.

– Refrigerate until ready to eat. (Should allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before eating.)

– Stir and ENJOY!

3. Prepare the night before, cook a few strips of bacon in the morning, add your toppings, and serve a healthy, yummy breakfast in just 10 minutes

I could provide recipes, but I think it is more fun for you to create your own versions of this delightfully, nutritious breakfast. Your kids will love it too.  And . . . it is SO easy! Have fun!
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Breakfast Smoothies

Various fruit smoothies isolated on white background
Image by elenaphoto

The breakfast smoothies listed below are all fruit-based and are excellent for breakfast when there is little time to prepare full meals. Some are made with Greek yoghurt, which can be done with most of them if you want to add a little protein.

If you avoid using refined sugar and juices with additives, these can be a healthy, nutritious way to start your day.

Use the recipes below as starting points – adding or substituting ingredients to fit your personal preferences. It is almost impossible to make a bad smoothie when you stick with the basics.

Place all ingredients for each smoothie in a blender and blend until smooth. Add additional ice for thicker consistency and additional liquid for thinner consistency.

Local honey and real maple syrup are the best natural sweeteners available. I do not recommend any other sweeteners.

Almond milk, coconut water, freshly squeezed juices, and water are the best liquids. When in a crunch, milk can be used, as well. A couple of the recipes call for pineapple juice, which is difficult to find in its natural state unless you make your own. Since I tend to be a purist (no additives), I often substitute pineapple juice with OJ that I make myself; but, it can be less sweet than pineapple juice, so adjust the amount of sweetener – to your personal taste.

I do not recommend that you drink a breakfast smoothie every morning (although it is better than not eating at all – or than gulping down a cup of strong coffee and a doughnut); but once or twice a week on extremely busy days, smoothies are a good option.

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

  • 1 medium banana (sliced and frozen)
  • 1 (5.3 oz. carton) Oikos Greek Yoghurt – Plain
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup almond milk (regular milk will also work)
  • 2 – 4 vanilla wafers
  • 1 T. local honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup ice (more if needed)

Apple Banana Crunch Smoothie

• 1 medium banana (frozen)
• 1 fresh apple (peeled and cored)
• Substitute apple with 1 cup frozen strawberries
• 5 raw almonds
• 1 (5.3 oz. carton) Oikos Greek Yoghurt – Plain
• ¼ teaspoon vanilla
• ¾ cup almond milk
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• ¼ tsp fresh grated ginger
• 2 teaspoons local honey
• ½ cup ice (adjust amount to reach desired consistency)

Banana Mango Apple Smoothie

• 1 cup fresh mango (sliced)
• 1 banana
• 1 apple (peeled and cored)
• ½ cup pineapple or fresh orange juice
• ½ cup cold water
• Enough ice to create desired consistency
• Add a little local honey if it is too tart

Berry Banana Apple Smoothie

• 1 medium banana (frozen)
• 1 crisp apple (peeled and cored)
• 4 ounces pineapple juice
• 1 cup raspberries, strawberries or blueberries (fresh or frozen)
• 2 tablespoons cranberry juice
• Dash of nutmeg
• 1 cup ice (If using frozen fruit, you can use less ice)
• Enough cold water to blend well

Strawberry Apricot Smoothie

• 1 cup fresh strawberries (washed and hulled)
• 1 large medium-ripe apricot
• 1 banana (frozen)
• 1/3 cup almond milk
• ½ cup ice
• 1 scant T. honey

Banana Peach Strawberry Avocado Smoothie

• 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
• 1 medium-ripe peach (peeled and pitted)
• 1 cup strawberries (washed and hulled)
• 1 medium ripe avocado
• ½ cup pineapple juice
• ½ cup cold water (add more if needed)
• Small amount of ice

Cherry Strawberry Smoothie

• 1½ cup pitted sweet red cherries (fresh or frozen, unsweetened)
• 1 banana (frozen)
• 1 – 1½ cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
• 2 teaspoons local honey
• 1 T. Chia seeds
• Juice of one orange, plus enough cold water to make 1 cup liquid.
• Add ice as needed for thickness

I ran across this wonderful tool you may want to check out: http://www.healthsomeness.com/smoothies/.  It will help you find more smoothie recipes that are just right for you. Have fun! 

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