Monday, March 22, 2010

Breakfast of Pure Champions

Switch out a few things to purify your breakfast habits and you will feel it around your waistline and around 10am when your energy reserves are still there for you.     

Lunch for Breakfast   
Many Americans consume over half of their daily sugar quotient by 9am.  Cereal, toaster cakes and tarts, energy bars and functional drinks provide a quick meal that promises to jump start the day but by mid-morning our bodies are wondering when the next sugar hit is coming.  The front of the box says its wholesome but you know you should be reading the label on the back to get the full picture.  Still, this is what we see in the grocery aisle marked breakfast so it’s got to be good for us, right?

Instead of sitting down to dessert every morning, try something really revolutionary: lunch.  Widen your idea of what a breakfast sandwiches can be.   A ham sandwich on rye, turkey on whole wheat,  peanut butter and bananas on multi-grain toast, grilled cheese with tomatoes, avocado or red peppers can all qualify as breakfast. They are fast, portable and will give you more staying power through morning meetings and classes.  If you like eggs but don’t have time to scramble some in the morning, scoop some pre-made egg salad or sliced hard boiled eggs and sliced tomatoes on a hard roll and head out the door.

With a few extra minutes you can assemble a mini whole wheat pita pocket filled with Canadian bacon, a fried egg or egg white and an ounce of cheddar cheese.  This is a first class treat and packed with long-lasting, valuable foods.  You can make a batch of these and freeze them individually in aluminum foil for a toaster-oven breakfast sandwich ready in minutes. My mother taught me to make open-faced Swiss cheese melts over grilled mushrooms and rye toast.  Sauté extra mushrooms tonight and have a fast elegant breakfast tomorrow.  What do all of these sandwiches have in common?   Some protein with a whole grain carbohydrate.  Some even pack in a little dairy.  That and the fact that you can pronounce every ingredient in your breakfast.

Blender Breakfasts
Energy drinks are easy to grab on the go from convenience stores and vending machines but did you know that low fat milk (also widely available) has the perfect balance of protein and carbs for replenishment?  Just make sure you get the real thing, not an enhanced version (which generally means added sugar).  You can also get serious benefits from downing a, 8-ounce shot of low-fat chocolate milk.  For those with bigger ambitions and a blender try these quick morning smoothies:

For chocoholics, a Chocolate Monkey smoothie….
Thank the banana for no added sugar and a nice dose of potassium.
6 oz low-fat or non-fat milk
1 small ripe banana, cut in chunks )try a frozen one)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add half the milk and the banana to the blender and mix on low until the banana is smooth.  Add remaining ingredients. 

For fruit lovers, a Freezer Fruit smoothie is available year round.  Because the fruit is frozen it thickens the shake naturally. 
6 oz low-fat or non-fat milk
4 oz fruit juice (orange juice, pineapple, pomegranate, cranberry)
1 cup frozen fruit: mangos, peaches, berries, any combo
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
Blend all ingredients together first on low, then for a few seconds on high to get a frothy mixture.

Think your toaster strudel is doing the trick? Sure, it’s fast and satisfies a sweet tooth’s craving for energy but you could do better.  Try a fruit and cream cheese burrito with a cinnamon spiked all-fruit spread.  You’ll get an immediate lift plus more long lasting back-up ingredients.   Assemble the night before and heat it in the toaster oven or eat it straight from the fridge. 

Toasted Fruit Burrito
1 whole wheat tortilla
1 ounce cream cheese or ricotta cheese (heaping tablespoon)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash vanilla extract
1/2 sliced fruit of your choice—peaches, pears, mango, baked apple, berries, etc
1 tablespoon jam or all-fruit spread- any flavor

Spread the jam on tortilla, leaving a two inch edge.  Next spread a layer of cream cheese or ricotta cheese over jam.  Pile fruit down center of tortilla, leaving edges clear.  Roll tortilla into a burrito by folding the bottom edge over the fruit. Fold the sides over perpendicular to that edge and close burrito by bringing top flap over the three folded edges.  Refrigerate overnight and take it on the road or heat in a toaster oven until the tortilla is crisped and the filling is warm.  Enjoy.

Have Your Bagel and Eat It Too
Have you noticed things getting larger?  The average size of a bagel has almost doubled.  Cut you bagel in half and slather on a full ounce of low fat cream cheese.  It’s the cream cheese that is holding the bagel and you together for the morning not the excess bread.  An ounce of low fat cream cheese has 2 grams of protein, 4% of your calcium requirements and about 55 calories.  If you choose a (normal-sized) bagel with some whole grains you can add in another 6-7 grams of protein.

Speaking of protein, take a road trip to England or South America where beans are on the breakfast menu.  Baked beans on toast and black beans on a corn tortilla both pack a wallop of protein and taste great plain or with a poached egg on top. 

94% say breakfast is most important meal but only 43% eat breakfast…

Many dieters make calorie cuts at breakfast.  Turn this idea on its head today.  Instead of trimming the life out of the early part of your day, feed your body and supply it with what it needs to get through the day. It’s much more fun to add up then cut back when it comes to calorie counting. By ensuring you have enough energy and nutrition reserves at the start of the day you will not be tempted to overeat at lunch and during the afternoon.  I aim for at least 300-350 calories in real foods by 10 am every day.

Dessert- The End
Enjoy cereal but put it in its proper place: dessert.  Serve it after dinner with milk and dried fruit (try warm milk).  Crunch it up on top of fresh fruit and bake it to make a cereal fruit crisp and add ice cream or frozen yogurt.  Layer it into a parfait-to-go with plain yogurt and berries as an after school snack.  And when the box is empty, take a fresh look at the cereal aisle and in the natural food section of your grocery store for something with less sugar to try in desserts next month.