Tag Archives: healthy 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.

 

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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To Eat or Not to Eat Breakfast, of Course

Image by "with wind"
Image by “with wind”

When you live a very busy life, it is easy to over-look breakfast – a common practice in America today. Far too many people start their morning with a large cup of coffee, sometimes black and sometimes filled with cream and sugar – or a sweet, caffeinated soda and nothing else. Bad habit!

Breakfast means “break your fast.”  Your body has been resting and has received no nourishment for eight hours and needs fuel replenishment to start the day. When coffee or sugary drinks are all it is given, it cannot possible function effectively. I know you know this – most people do – and yet they do not eat breakfast. Why?

When asked, the answers usually fall into a couple of categories: 1) “I have too much to do in the morning, and not enough time.” Or – “I don’t really need breakfast. Coffee gives me the jump-start I need.” When you see those excuses in writing, they sound quite lame and yet people say such things (or think them) all the time.

Yes, it can be difficult to balance work and family responsibilities and the temptation to save time by not eating breakfast can be easily rationalized. In fact, people shudder at the thought of preparing a healthy breakfast even for themselves, let alone trying to prepare breakfast for an entire family.

My goal today is twofold:

  1. To re-emphasize that breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day. (Better to skip dinner than breakfast.)
  2. To assure you that it can also be one of the easiest meals of the day to prepare.

Let’s start with the first point.

Most Important Meal of the Day

Many studies show that people who eat breakfast regularly are healthier. Any breakfast at all – a piece of fruit, a bowl of cereal, a banana, a piece of toast, etc., is better than no breakfast.

On the other hand, people who skip breakfast, often to cut calories, tend to weigh more than people who eat breakfast every day. Their strategy backfires on them. Skipping breakfast starves your body. Then, in the late morning it starts screaming, “Feed me.” Since you are most likely at work or school, you will probably look for something (anything) to munch on to quell the hunger pangs. As a rule, those quick grab snacks are empty calories filled with fat, salt and sugar and loaded with calories (which you tried to avoid by not eating breakfast).

This sets up a vicious, unhealthy cycle of starving and eating unhealthy foods that is extremely harmful to your body, especially for those prone to blood sugar issues like diabetes. Eating breakfast not only helps maintain a healthy weight, it helps your body maintain a stable blood-sugar level. Eating breakfast also helps with memory, concentration and productivity.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health completed several studies on the relationship between children who eat breakfast and children who do well in school. The studies show amazing correlations between a nutritious breakfast and the ability to succeed in difficult cognitive tasks. They also show how easily hunger affects mood and concentration.

Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital completed another study that showed students who ate breakfast actually had higher grades and less disciplinary issues than children who did not eat breakfast.

Other studies show the same type of correlation between adults who do not eat breakfast and those who complain of mood swings, fatigue and irritability, especially during the late morning and early afternoon hours of a workday.

Your Body Needs Fuel

It is impossible to drive a car without fuel in the tank. Why do people expect their bodies to run without fuel? Trying to get through the day without refueling your body in the morning is harmful and foolish.

Breakfast replenishes the body with nutrients that provide fuel to support your activities throughout the day. When you skip breakfast you create a nutritional hole in the day, which means that you cannot regain the vitamins and minerals you lose when you choose to NOT eat breakfast. It affects you in multiple ways – diminished energy, weakened ability to concentrate, and lower productivity; plus it can affect your mood, behavior, and outlook for the entire day.

Breakfast sets up your entire day. It is a small meal that provides huge benefits!

Eat Fruit

Fresh FruitBreakfast is the perfect time to eat fruit, which can be eaten in many forms: whole fruit, fruit salad, fruit smoothie, freshly-squeezed fruit juice, or waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, or yogurt topped with fruit – all of those can be the perfect start to a busy day.

If you have trouble eating enough fruit during the day, breakfast is a good time to make it happen. The nutrients in a fresh orange, apple or banana will stay with you over the course of the day.

Strange as it may seem, eating breakfast can be a money-saver. When you eat breakfast, it is much easier to control eating throughout the day. You don’t struggle with those terrible bouts of hunger that hit mid-morning and you satisfy with snacks from the company vending machine or the corner fast-food establishment. As a result, if you eat breakfast, you spend much less money on unhealthy snack foods during an average work day. Breakfast helps your body and your pocketbook.

Eating breakfast is important for every member of the family from the oldest to the youngest, but it is particularly important and beneficial for children. They will do better in school; they will be less likely to spend money on candy or soda during the school day; and they will be more active and more normal weight than children who do not eat breakfast.

Preparing Breakfast Is Easy

There are so many simple, yummy options for breakfast it is difficult to understand why people avoid it.  Breakfast is my favorite meal because there are so many delicious and nutritious foods and combinations of foods to eat.

Many breakfast foods fall into the category of “comfort foods” and/or favorite foods – everything from waffles to pancakes to omelets, so why not start your day with a favorite food?

Pancakes filled with blueberries, topped with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar or real maple syrup can be a wholesome start to the work week. French toast with raspberries or strawberries, or an omelet filled with onions and peppers topped with fresh salsa can be excellent options for the busy lifestyle. Add a piece or two of bacon or sausage for extra flavor. However, both are high in fat and should be eaten in moderation.

It is easy to pack breakfast with nutrients and ensure that you are getting enough of the important food groups. An omelet with vegetables, 2 slices of bacon, half a cantaloupe, and a piece of whole wheat toast covers all the basics. Such a meal is easy to prepare, fuels your body, and tastes great.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of why breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and how it can make a huge difference in your life.

To sum up – eating breakfast can lighten your mood, increase your concentration, and help you lose weight (and save you money). Breakfast is an enjoyable way to start each morning if you plan ahead, have the proper ingredients on hand, and set aside a little extra time to prepare this amazing meal.

Please join us on Monday; I will be sharing some ideas for healthy breakfasts to get you started. 

Photo Credit (Breakfast): IMG_1655 via photopin (license)

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal – Easy Healthy Breakfast

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slow cooker  steel cut oatmeal
Image by “Well Preserved”

Slow cooker steel cut oatmeal simplifies your morning and starts your family off right with healthy warm food in their tummies. You need three ingredients, 5 minutes to prepare, a turn of the switch and let it cook through the night. Breakfast is ready when you are. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

  • Place all ingredients in a 3½  or 4-quart slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 3½ hours.
  • Serve with your favorite toppers (Mine happen to be brown sugar and cream).
  • Try combinations of any of the following:
    • Half-and-half, milk, vanilla yogurt, Greek yogurt, any milk substitute
    • Brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, Stevia
    • Seasonings (cinnamon, nutmeg – use a light hand)
    • Dried fruit (raisins, currents, cherries, chopped figs or dates, etc.)
    • Fresh fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries)
    • Chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts)
    • Shredded coconut
    • Fruit butters (apple, pumpkin)
    • Use your imagination and create your own masterpiece.



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