By Valerie Pulley, RDN
MARTIN’S Food Markets
Now that summer has unofficially ended, many of us are back to hectic mornings. Fitting in breakfast for the family can be challenging, however eating breakfast is important for performance at school and work. Kids and adults who fuel up in the morning tend to focus and concentrate better during the day. It’s much easier to concentrate if you’re not hungry! It’s also true that people who eat breakfast get more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, zinc and iron in their diets compared to breakfast skippers.
Serving breakfast at home is an important way to set a good example and model healthy eating for your children. Kids tend to mimic their parents’ actions, so make it a habit to sit down and eat a healthy breakfast every morning. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal. A healthy breakfast can be made in just minutes! But first, be sure to set aside some time to plan out your meals, make your grocery list and buy your staples for quick go to breakfasts loaded with nutrients.
Check out these quick and healthy ideas to start the school and work day off right:
- Wake up just a few minutes earlier to squeeze in a quick morning meal.
- Aim for as many food groups as possible at breakfast by incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and dairy into your meal.
- Fruit and yogurt is a tried and true quick breakfast. Choose Greek yogurt for extra protein boost. And beware of the sugar in the “kiddie” yogurts and yogurt tubes. Check the ingredient list for added sugars and stick with those naturally sweetened with fruit or make your own.
- Prepare breakfast the night before so you can grab and go in the morning. Try a whole grain tortilla with almond butter and banana rolled up, homemade trail mix with whole grain cereal, nut/seeds and dried fruit, whole grain crackers and fruit.
- Eggs are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals to keep you full and energized throughout the morning. They are also low calorie, at only 70 calories per egg. To keep eggs as a lean protein choice that is also low in cholesterol, use one egg and two egg whites as a serving.
- Egg mugs are a quick and easy way to prepare eggs in the morning. Spray a mug with non-stick spray and place in one egg and two egg whites and microwave for one minute or until set. Add your favorite cheese, vegetables and/or lean breakfast meat.
- Hard boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week. Cool, peel and place into an airtight container in the refrigerator. Grab an egg or two for a quick breakfast with fruit in the morning or make egg salad with toast.
- Set the breakfast table the night before to make the morning run a little smoother. Put out a couple boxes of whole-grain cereal so all kids have to do in the morning is pick one, pour into a bowl and add milk.
- Smoothies are a great option to start your day with a nutrient rich boost. Just be careful about what you add to the blender as the calories can add up quickly. Add skim milk, Greek yogurt or 100% fruit juice and one cup of your favorite fruit. Don’t forget about adding vegetables like baby leafy greens such as baby spinach and baby kale, which have a milder flavor. Make ahead the night before and freeze in a to-go thermos for breakfast on the go.
- Experiment with different nut or seed butters and add to smoothies, whole grain pancakes, whole grain waffles or oatmeal.
- Read the nutrition labels carefully before you toss breakfast bars and pastries into your shopping cart. Keep it to no more than 8 grams of sugar and look for “whole grains” as the first ingredient. A protein granola bar and fruit is an easy option.
- Get kids involved with some “make and take” portable quickies. Put fruits in zip-top bags, freeze a yogurt and add half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
- Breakfast doesn’t have to be traditional. Start the day with a low sodium turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, light cheese and whole grain crackers or peanut butter and jelly on a high fiber wrap. Dinner “do-overs” are also an option. Try mac and cheese with ham cubes, cold veggie pizza, or a piece of cold chicken and a small dinner roll. Add fruit and you have a well-rounded “breakfast.”
If your evenings are spent shuttling everyone to their activities, breakfast is a wonderful time for that important family meal time together! For more healthy tips visit MARTIN’S Healthy Ideas website.
Valerie Pulley, RDN has more than 23 years of experience as a registered dietitian and is currently the Richmond area in-store nutritionist for MARTIN’S Food Markets. As a working mom of two daughters, Valerie relates well to the challenges today’s moms face trying to establish and maintain healthy habits for a busy lifestyle. She is committed to offering practical advice based on up-to-date medical information to help families make sustainable healthy changes to their lifestyle. To get a plan tailored to you, call Valerie at 804-364-3644 to set up a one-on-one consultation.
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