Bored with breakfast? A healthy breakfast needs to supply us with “good carbs” for energy, fiber for gut health, and protein to hold us over until lunchtime. Good carbs are found in fruits and minimally processed whole grains; fruit and whole grains contain fiber, and protein is found in dairy, eggs, milk, beans, and nut butters.
In order to expand the list of possibilities, we may need to expose our taste buds to new foods but if we take it slowly and make changes gradually, we may be surprised to discover that some of the new stuff tastes great!
JUICE. We usually think of OJ as the “go-to” juice for breakfast, but there are many other kinds to try: apple, grapefruit, pineapple, grape, V8, tomato, prune, cranberry, pomegranate, POG, coconut water, or water with a squeeze of lemon. If we prefer orange juice, it would be best to squeeze our own since pulp contains fiber, but store-bought juice with pulp is a reasonable alternative. Most fruit juice is very high in natural sugars so one small glass is probably enough for most kids and adults.
HOT DRINKS: Black tea, green tea, and coffee contain antioxidants that are good for us, and depending upon their level of caffeine, they temporarily boost metabolism and provide us with a shot of energy. Yes, hot chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine, but much less than coffee or tea. Some people get jittery when they consume caffeinated drinks, there are lots of herbal teas and decaf options they can enjoy.
SMOOTHIES: Frozen fruit smoothie mixes are available in many grocery stores and there are also refrigerated versions to choose from but be certain to read nutrition labels because some of the premade alternatives contain more added sugar than the recommended daily allowance for an adult. The healthiest alternative would be to prep and freeze batches of fruit when we have time, and then pop them in a blender along with some liquid as we need them.
COLD CEREAL. There’s nothing wrong with a bowl of cereal for breakfast, but cereal can be a bit tricky because there are so many kinds. The healthiest brands contain at least 5 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams of sugar, which is to say … not very sweet! Whole-grain cereals like granola or muesli are one option, and so are Kashi 7, Grape Nuts, and Shredded Wheat. If we don’t like low- or lower-sugar varieties, you can mix low sugar cereal with the sweet kind until we become more accustomed to its taste.
HOT CEREAL Some cereals are usually served hot, we are giving them a category of their own. Old-fashioned oatmeal is low in calories and high in complex carbs, so it is a good way to start the day. Other possibilities include creamed rice or wheat, polenta, grits, quinoa, millet, and farina. It is best to avoid flavored cereals that are loaded with added sugar, and there are many lower- and low-sugar varieties we can try. If we crave a bit of sweetness, we can add a dab of honey, along with some berries, raisins, or sliced bananas. Why do we recommend honey even though it isn’t much different nutritionally than refined sugar? It’s because honey is so hard to squeeze of that little bear that we tend to use a lot less of it.
EGGS. Once maligned but now embraced as a healthy source of protein, let us count the ways we love them: scrambled, fried, sunny-side up, over easy, crispy, in a French or American omelet, hard-boiled, soft boiled, and poached. In a hurry? Microwaved recipes are easy to find, but in general, you whisk an egg with a bit of milk or water and a pinch of salt and nuke it for a minute or two. Eat it plain or add chopped mushrooms and thyme; ham, Swiss and a dab or mustard; mozzarella with spinach and halved cherry tomatoes; or with chopped leftover veggies.
TOAST. It’s a good idea to choose whole grain and/or seeded varieties of breads, bagels, scones, and English muffins because they provide more fiber and nutrients than their refined counterparts. Top the toast with an egg, cream cheese, and lox, avocado, nut butter and jelly, a banana, or a slice of ham and melted cheese.
DAIRY. Many brands of flavored yogurts contain more added sugars that a serving of Fruit Loops! Greek yogurt is the same as regular yogurt, but it is strained and thicker, hence higher per serving in protein. There are many lower-sugar varieties of yogurt in grocery stores, or we could adorn plain yogurt with some fruit for sweetness and granola or seeds for crunch. Kefir and cottage cheese are two other dairy foods that could be part of a healthy breakfast, so give them a try!
CINNAMON. A dash of cinnamon tastes sweet, so sprinkle some on yogurt or hot cereal.
There are many kinds of fruit that can be part of a healthy breakfast, and the best choices contain plenty of fiber and healthy carbs to keep us going until it’s time for lunch.
BERRIES. Love them! All those teeny-tiny seeds in strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, mulberries, and raspberries provide us with fiber that keeps us pooping! Fiber offsets the carbs that naturally occur in fruits and berries are yummy superfoods that pack a big antioxidant punch that is good for us. Fuzzy kiwis are berries too; cut one in half and scoop it with a spoon. Bananas, pineapple, avocados, and tomatoes are also botanically classified as members of the berry family.
STONE FRUITS. The usual list of stone fruit includes peaches, nectarines, plums, lychees, mangoes, almonds, apricots, dates, and cherries but stone fruits are just as complicated as berries. Raspberries, blackberries, and mulberries are technically small stone fruits that are assembled into what we think of as a “berry.” Coconuts are a stone fruit too; they are the “stones” of the fruit of a coconut tree. No worries; give them all a try.
MELONS. Refreshing melons are a good choice for breakfast because they are rich in vitamins and minerals. Small melons are fun for kids because when you cut one in half, it becomes a bowl that can be scooped out with a spoon. There are many kinds of melons to try: cantaloupe, honeydew, yellow watermelon, Canary melon, muskmelon, horned melon, Crenshaw… all different, and all delicious!
Now go take on the day!
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