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Rise and Shine

Resolve to eat a better breakfast in the New Year


December 31, 2020

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I know all too well how easy it is to either: 1) skip breakfast, or 2) grab something on the run that isn't exactly the most nutritious food in the world.

When I do make time for breakfast, I have a tendency to grab a couple of frozen breakfast burritos or one of those sandwiches made up of a croissant, sausage patty, egg and cheese.

I'm afraid to look at the nutrition label on either one.

That alone should be my first clue I need to do a better job of choosing my breakfast menu. And with the new year right around the corner, this is the perfect time to get started. Isn't that what New Year's resolutions are for?

But why is breakfast so important?

Basically, breakfast provides the body with the energy it needs to start the day.

Children who eat breakfast are more creative, do better in class, perform better on tests and have fewer behavior problems, according to Cami Wells with University of Nebraska Extension. Adults who eat breakfast tend to do better at work, snack less and get more nutrients each day than adults who do not eat breakfast.

A healthy breakfast should include foods from at least three of the five food groups, Wells said, for example: one cup low-fat yogurt (dairy group), a medium nectarine (fruit group) and a slice of whole-wheat toast (grain group).

Wells also suggested limiting breakfast foods that are high in sugar or fat, like sugar coated cereals, doughnuts, pastries and fried foods. Choose foods with less sugar and fat, like unsweetened whole-grain cereals, pancakes or waffles with fruit and fat-free or low-fat milk.

What exactly should you look for on the cereal box? Wells says your should start with checking to make sure it is whole grain. Select cereals that have whole-grain products listed first in the list of ingredients. In general, cereals that contain about 100 to 200 calories per serving, at least three grams of fiber and eight or fewer grams of sugar are good choices. Also, choose cereals that have less than 150 mg of sodium per serving.

If mornings are too rushed for breakfast, try these quick breakfast ideas for both kids and adults. They are easy to grab on the way out the door or can be prepared the night before:

-- Single servings of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal

-- Low-fat yogurt

-- Fresh fruit

-- Hard-boiled egg

-- Whole-grain muffin

-- String cheese

-- Bagel with peanut butter and raisins

-- Trail mix of nuts, dried fruits, pretzels, crackers and dry cereal

Here are a few other ideas for quick breakfasts:

Yogurt parfait: Easy and very portable. Select any type of fruit, yogurt or dry cereal that you have on hand. Fill a coffee mug about half-full with frozen fruit (blueberries, cherries, mango, etc.) Microwave about 20 seconds until slightly thawed. Add a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt and sprinkle with granola – you are on your way out the door.

Whole grain toast with peanut butter or your favorite nut butter: Easy quick and includes some protein to keep hunger away for a while. Try changing up the bread for a whole grain bagel, English muffin, waffle or tortilla.

Breakfast burrito: Roll up scrambled eggs, salsa and cheese into a tortilla for a yummy (and travel friendly) breakfast burrito. Use bread or an English muffin instead for a quick breakfast sandwich.

Homemade trail mix: Throw any combination of dry cereal, nuts or dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots, cherries, etc.) in a sandwich bag. Add a glass of milk in a to-go cup and you have a quick breakfast that includes foods from four different food groups!

Oatmeal to go: Add 1/3 cup of quick or old-fashioned oats to a large microwave safe coffee mug along with your favorite fresh, canned, dried or frozen fruit. Mix in 2/3 cup of milk or water. Microwave 2-3 minutes until hot, stirring after each minute. Top with walnuts, almonds or pecans and you have a delicious hot breakfast that's ready to head out the door.

Breakfast does not need to consist of only traditional breakfast foods. Any nutritious foods can be eaten for breakfast. (Can pizza be nutritious?)

Here are some ideas for quick and healthy breakfasts.

Rice Bowl Breakfast with Fruit and Nuts

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup nonfat or 1 percent milk

1 cup chopped fruit (apples, bananas, raisins, berries, peaches)

2 tablespoons chopped nuts (try unsalted walnuts or almonds)

Combine cooked rice, milk and cinnamon in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 45 seconds. Stir and heat for another 45 to 60 seconds, or until rice mixture is heated through. Divide rice mixture between two bowls. Top with fruit and nuts. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 280 calories, 6 g fat, 35 mg sodium, 55 g carbohydrate and 5 g fiber

Recipe from: Oregon State Extension

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup dried fruit, optional (raisins or other chopped dried fruit)

3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, optional

1 cup non-fat milk

1/2 cup applesauce

2 tablespoons oil

1 egg, beaten

Combine oats, sugar, baking powder, dried fruit and walnuts in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine milk, applesauce, oil and egg. Add to oat mixture and stir well. Pour mixture into greased 8-inch-square baking pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Serve warm with milk.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe from: Kansas State Extension

Whole Grain Cereal Bars

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 cups whole grain cereal

1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc.), optional

Combine brown sugar, honey and peanut butter in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Melt the peanut butter mixture microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each melting, for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cereal and dried fruit. Press cereal mixture into an 8 inch square pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Cool and cut into bars. Makes 16 servings.

Recipe from: UNL Extension

Skillet Granola

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup powdered milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups uncooked, old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup raisins

Warm oil and honey in a skillet for one minute over medium heat. Add powdered milk and vanilla. Stir in oats and sunflower seeds, and mix until coated with oil and honey mixture and keep over medium heat. Stir until oatmeal is slightly brown.

Take off heat. Stir in raisins. Cool mixture. Store in an airtight container (jar or plastic bag).

Makes 12 (1/2 cup) servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 260 calories, 11 grams fat, 10 mg sodium, 4 grams of fiber and 35 grams of carbohydrate.


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