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Breakfast for Better Health

For breakfast eaters and skippers alike…there are so many healthy options for breakfast, small to hearty. Why eat breakfast at all? According to a meta-analysis of research studies published in the journal ‘Obesity Research & Clinical Practice’ in 2020, skipping breakfast is associated with overweight/obesity and skipping breakfast increases the risk of becoming overweight/obese.

Results are consistent. Breakfast eaters have a decreased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease. Breakfast eaters typically enjoy higher energy levels throughout the day as well as cognitive performance.

In fact, research also shows that healthy adults that eat breakfast have an advantage over breakfast skippers in terms of memory (especially with delayed recall). Similar benefits were seen in breakfast eaters in the areas of attention span/attentiveness, motor function and decision making.

5 Creative breakfast suggestions

1. Hot bulgur: cook bulgur according to package directions (much like oatmeal and other whole grains). Serve with 1/4 chopped apple, 1 TB raisins or currants and chopped pecans as well as a small amount of maple syrup (try 1o-2 tsps first) and 1/3 cup hot milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

2. Whole wheat toast with 1 TB peanut butter and sliced banana

3. A smoothie, try blending frozen/fresh fruit with Greek yogurt and a splash of milk

4. Fried egg with Canadian bacon or turkey bacon on a whole-wheat English muffin. Top with fresh spinach or arugula.

5. Breakfast Fruit Wrap: Top a medium-sized whole-wheat or corn tortilla with 2 tsp all-fruit preserves, 2 TB reduced-fat ricotta cheese, 1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced strawberries and 2 TB toasted almonds. Roll up, tucking in the tortilla at the sides.

Amazing Waves of Grain…

You know all about whole grains, right? Brown rice, whole wheat bread AND oatmeal fit the bill. But…what else is out there that can pump up both the variety and the nutrition of the grains you, and your family, choose? Try out the hottest trends in the grain family: quinoa, amaranth and spelt.

Quinoa: a grain known to come in multiple colors and textures

Quinoa has been cultivated in the South American mountainous regions for over 5,000 years as a staple of the native Indian diet. Although considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables. It is birdseed-shaped and mild-flavored. Use it as a substitute for rice in casseroles, in soups and stews, or as a hot cereal. Unlike all other grains mentioned, quinoa is a high-quality protein source, containing all of the essential amino acids, like protein in animal products. A 1/4 cup of this grain, dry, provides 170 calories, 2.5 g fat, 30 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber and 7 g protein.

“Quinoa contains 700% more iron than the same serving size of enriched white rice! It’s a protein-rich grain, and a good source of calcium.”

Amaranth: a high-protein grain

Amaranth is technically both a vegetable and a grain (leaves of the plant are the vegetable and the seeds are the grain). It has been cultivated as a vegetable crop by early civilizations over 2,000 years ago, and continues to be used world-wide. However, it didn’t gain support in the U.S. until 1975.

Amaranth can be cooked as a cereal, popped like popcorn, sprouted, or toasted and is a good source of protein, calcium and iron. Seeds can be ground into flour for use in baked goods or pasta. Amaranth flour must be mixed with other flours when baking yeast breads (1 part amaranth flour to 3-4 parts other flours) but for non-yeast baked goods (flatbreads and pancakes), you can use 100% amaranth flour. A 1/4 cup, dry, provides 190 calories, 3.5 g fat, 34 grams (g)  carbohydrate, 7 g dietary fiber and 8 g protein

Spelt: a zinc-rich slow cooking grain

Spelt, a distant cousin to wheat, has a deep nutlike flavor.

“Interestingly, spelt does not seem to cause sensitivities in most people who are wheat intolerant.”

Spelt is available in flour form and is available in its hulled, whole grain form (referred to as spelt berries), which can be prepared and eaten like rice. Spelt is an excellent source of zinc, vitamin B2 and manganese. Use spelt bread for a hearty sandwich or combine spelt pasta with olives, tomatoes and feta cheese for a quick and easy Mediterranean dish. Be adventurous and add some tasty ‘old’ grains to your diet! A 1/4 cup, dry, offers 150 calories, 1.5 g fat, 32 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber and 6 g protein.