The most important meal of the day
We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day but do you really know why? A balanced breakfast is so important for so many different reasons:
1. It helps to jump start your metabolism by providing the fuel to start your day.
When you wakeup in the morning your body has been fasting all night long and needs to be refueled in order to jump start your metabolism and give you the energy to start your day. Your breakfast should supply you with about 25% of your energy and nutrient requirements for the day.
2. It can help to reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Breakfast helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day which can help prevent Type 2 diabetes and eating breakfast also helps prevent snacking on high fat/high calorie snacks later on in the day.
3. Breakfast can help to boost your brain power so that you can stay alert while at work at avoid falling asleep at your desk.
It will help you to feel more energetic and can help improve your ability to concentrate, making you feel like a superhero in the morning at work (along with your coffee of course).
4. Breakfast will help you to feel more full and satisfied later on in the day.
People who skip breakfast often will compensate by eating much more later on in the day and will often snack on less nutritious foods that are high in fat, calories and sugar.
5. It can help to enhance the quality of your diet.
Breakfast foods can enhance the quality of your diet by helping you get enough important nutrients like calcium, iron, fibre and B vitamins and gives you an important opportunity to sneak in extra fruits and/or vegetables.
6. Breakfast is key for in weight loss and weight maintenance.
Although it may seem tempting to skip meals in order to loose weight, this is the worst thing you can do- especially skipping breakfast. Studies have shown time and time again that breakfast eaters have a lower body mass index (BMI) and decreased risk of obesity (this likely has to do with #1, #2 and #4).
Have I convinced you yet? If not keep reading and the delicious recipes and ideas below are sure to convince you.
BUILDING A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
You might be seeing a trend here but building a healthy breakfast is very similar to building a healthy lunch and dinner. Aim to include foods from at least ¾ Food Groups from Canada’s Food Guide at breakfast time to create a satisfying breakfast to last you until lunch time (or at least until snack time). Include a variety of choices from this list with at least one of your choices being a fruit (and/or vegetable) and always be sure to include some sort of protein.
- Fruit- fresh, frozen, canned (unsweetened) or dried
- Vegetable- think veggies in an omelet or spinach in a smoothie
- Whole grains- oatmeal, whole grain cereal, bread, bagel, muffin, whole grain tortilla
- Protein- low-fat cow’s milk, soy milk, yogurt (low-fat Greek or regular), cottage cheese, eggs, almonds, walnuts (or other nuts), peanut butter, almond butter (or other nut/seed butter), hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds etc.
MAKING YOUR CEREAL BOWL MORE EXCITING
Cereal is a popular breakfast choice because it is fast and easy and can be a very healthy choice if you choose a low sugar whole grain cereal and low-fat milk. If you are looking for ways to make your cereal bowl more exciting here are some ideas:
- Sprinkle your cereal bowl with fresh or dried fruit and nuts.
- Use leftover brown rice or quinoa as a hot cereal in the morning by warming with low fat milk or soy milk and top with cinnamom, walnuts and a sliced banana.
- Mix and match your cereals. If your favourite cereal is higher in sugar and lower in fibre, mix this cereal with a high fibre/low sugar cereal for a better breakfast. Stir in some fresh or frozen berries for a pop of colour and boost of antioxidants.
- Make a breakfast parfait by layering low fat yogurt with your favorite granola and fruit.
- Make your cereal tropical by adding drained canned pineapple and unsweetened coconut.
MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE BREAKFAST IDEAS
By making extra breakfast on the weekend and freezing them in smaller portions for breakfast you can beat the morning rush. On a busy morning just reheat and eat!
- Whole grain pancakes or waffles- thaw and reheat in the toaster and serve with peanut or almond butter and sliced banana on top.
- Whole grain muffins- serve with a piece of fruit and glass of milk.
- Steel cut oatmeal, quinoa or brown rice- Serve in single postions and reheat in the microwave and serve with fruit and nuts on top.
- French toast- make French toast with whole grain bread and freeze to reheat when you need it. Top with yogurt, apple sauce or nutter butter and fruit.
- Breakfast burritos- wrap scrambled eggs in a whole grain tortilla with chopped bell pepper, baby spinach, green onions and shredded cheese. Wrap in foil and freeze. Remove the foil prior to microwaving and just heat it up when you are ready!
GRAB AND GO BREAKFAST IDEAS
If you are too busy to eat at home, try out these portable breakfast ideas that are perfect to eat on the bus or at work.
- Make your own egg mcmuffin by quickly cooking up an egg in a cup in the microwave and putting it on a toasted whole grain English muffin with a slice of low-fat cheese. Eat it with a portable fruit like a banana, apple or orange.
- Make a breakfast wrap using a whole grain tortilla spread with nut butter and topped with a banana, apple or pear.
- Make a smoothie and pour it into a to-go thermos to keep it cold. Serve it with a homemade whole grain muffin. Check out my post “Building the Perfect Smoothie” for some great smoothie ideas.
- Make a big batch of hard-boiled eggs on the weekend and grab an egg, some yogurt and a piece of fruit and breakfast is done.
- Make a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread and serve with a glass of milk once you get to work.
- Make your own trail mix with whole grain, high fibre cereal, dried fruit, nuts and seeds and portion into a small container. Add a piece of fruit and some yogurt.
Oatmeal is my very favourite breakfast because it is filling, nutritious and delicious. Plus there are so many different ways that you can make your oatmeal that you are sure to never get bored! Here is my favourite basic oatmeal recipe that only takes 90 seconds in the microwave and that you can jazz up any way you want.
Basic Whipped Banana Oatmeal
⅓ cup old fashioned oats
⅓ cup milk of choice (cow’s milk or soy milk would be highest in protein)
⅓ cup water
½ banana sliced thinly (the banana helps to make a really creamy bowl of oats, the banana will pretty much melt into the oats leaving a thick, creamy consistency with a natural sweetness but if you don’t like banana you can just leave this out)
½ tbsp chia seeds
Dash of cinnamon
Splash of vanilla
Combine ingredients, except vanilla, above in a microwave safe bowl and cook in microwave on high for 90 seconds stirring once half-way. Stir in the vanilla at the end and top with desired toppings.
The possible toppings for the above basic oatmeal recipe are truly endless. Here are some of my favorites:
- Blueberries and flax seed stirred in and almond butter on top
- Cocoa powder stirred in and peanut butter on top
- ¼ cup of pumpkin with pumpkin pie spice and pecans stirred in
- Peaches stirred in and coconut flakes on top
- Raspberries stirred in and peanut butter on top
- Peanut butter and jam on top
- Cooked apple slices with extra cinnamon and walnuts
- Strawberries with sliced almonds
- This Zucchini Bread Oatmeal by Oh She Gows
- This Carrot Cake Oatmeal by Oh She Glows
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