Take a fresh look at what makes a nutritious breakfast and what foods are good to eat at the most important meal of your day.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. This is especially true for dieters who will find it easier to manage their weight and stay on track with a start to the morning that’s high in nutrition. The trick, however, is making smart choices.
“A healthy breakfast should be a variety of foods like whole grains, low-fat protein or dairy sources, and fruit,” says Andrea Gorman, MS, RD, manager of clinical nutrition at Rhode Island Hospital/Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. “All these food groups provide complex carbohydrates, protein, and a small amount of fat. This combination of nutrients can delay hunger symptoms and keep you feeling full throughout the day.”
Here are some ideas to get your day started right:
- Build on a healthy cereal. Top a high-fiber cereal with a sprinkle of granola, bananas, and low-fat milk or plain yogurt. This combination provides good fiber and protein intake, plus calcium and potassium.
- Get off to a berry good start. Another possibility for breakfast is berries and low-fat Greek-style yogurt with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds. These foods are high in protein and volume, which can help you feel full longer.
- Take your nutrition to go. Smoothies are another smart choice when made with Greek-style low-fat yogurt, berries, and a touch of sugar. It’s a meal that’s high in protein, dairy, and volume, and it’s very portable if you’re in a hurry.
- Get a good “warm-up.” Susan B. Roberts, PhD, author of The Instinct Diet and professor of nutrition at the USDA Nutrition Center at Tufts University in Boston, recommends hot cereal: Microwave 1/4 cup each of instant oatmeal and coarse wheat bran with a cup of 1 percent milk. Served with berries and a little maple syrup, it’s the perfect start to the day with plenty of fiber and volume.
- Don’t skip the eggs. Hot breakfasts extend the range of possibilities. Scrambled eggs — one whole egg and one egg white — along with a piece of whole-wheat toast, lightly buttered, and some fruit on the side are high in protein and volume and make a great combination.
- Wrap up some burritos. Breakfast burritos can spice up your morning meal. Use the same scrambled egg recipe as in No. 5 as the filling for a low-carb, whole- wheat (for extra fiber) wrap along with some salsa, low-fat sour cream, and a sprinkle of cheese.
- Call on cottage cheese. Cottage cheese along with fruit or nuts can be a good breakfast choice that’s high in protein plus some calcium. Look for cottage cheese brands that offer extra fiber.
- Ham it up. Even ham and eggs can be healthy when using one whole egg and one egg white in the scramble and two slices of lean Canadian bacon. Add half a grapefruit on the side and it’s a meal full of protein, fiber, and vitamin C.
- Don’t rule out a.m. vegetables. You can enjoy veggies with breakfast if you add them to some eggs. Dr. Roberts suggests cooking one and a half cups of sliced button mushrooms or one cup of lightly steamed vegetables (like broccoli or spinach), two beaten eggs, salt, and freshly ground pepper in a non-stick pan with one-half teaspoon of tub margarine. Add a dollop of ketchup, if desired.
- Think whole grain. Whole-grain English muffins with peanut butter or another nut butter and sliced fruit like apples or pears, along with a glass of milk, can be filling while providing protein and calcium.