Empty gas tank_PDUPDATE: Are you running on an empty tank? People who start their day without an a.m. meal often feel depleted, overeat later in the day, and make some not-so-smart decisions as they go along. Eating a good breakfast sets the stage for making healthy choices that will power up your body as well as your brain.

Why Eat Breakfast?

As you sleep, your body works hard to digest last night’s dinner. By the time you wake up, your body and brain demand fuel.

Three Breakfast Components

Morning menus are filled with options — from breakfast wraps to smoothies in every color — and need not be complicated. Breakfast can be simple, quick and satisfying. Be sure it includes a heart-healthy mix of whole grains, protein, and healthy fat to satisfy you as well as sustain you.

1. Whole Grains (Source of high fiber)

Examples: Whole-wheat low-carb tortilla, slice of whole-grain bread, steel-cut oats, bran cereals/flakes, barley, bulgur, and whole wheat couscous.
Oatmeal
A whole grain is the entire grain which includes the bran, germ and endosperm (the starchy part). Whole grains are complex carbohydrates or “good carbs”. Including them at breakfast will help you meet your 40 gm of fiber per day and help:

  • Fill you up
  • Lose weight
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Stabilize blood sugar
  • Avoid a mid-morning energy crash
  • Promote regularity

“Refined” flours like white and enriched wheat flour include only part of the grain — the starchy part — and are NOT whole grain. A healthy breakfast cereal should list a whole grain as the first ingredient. Also, check that it has the following per serving:

  1. 5 or more gm fiber
  2. Less than 5 gm sugar
  3. Less than 200 mg is healthiest

Whenever you are looking for a whole-grain food (whether it’s cereal, bread or a snack), look for the key word “whole” to identify whether it’s truly whole grain as a general rule.  Here’s How to Shop for Whole Grains.

2. Protein

Greek nonfat plain yogurtSome examples:

  • Greek yogurt, plain nonfat (has nearly twice as much protein as regular yogurt)
  • Regular yogurt, plain nonfat (has nearly twice the calcium as regular yogurt)
  • Beans (such as a bean-veggie-whole grain wrap)
  • Salmon (leftovers from the previous night’s dinner)
  • Omega-enriched eggs (limit to five whole eggs per week). Choose eggs rich in omega-3 fats from hens fed a vegetarian, organic diet.

3. Healthy Fat

ExampSeeds_PDles:

  • Nuts
  • Nut butters, natural (i.e., no additives, sugar)
  • Seeds (such as sunflower seeds, ground flaxseed, chia seeds)
  • Wheat germ
  • Avocado
  • Salmon

Diabetic*/Heart-Healthy Breakfast Ideas

  • Veggie omelet and whole-grain toast
  • Breakfast wrap – An egg or tofu and veggie scramble wrapped in a whole-wheat low-carb tortilla
  • Black bean and quinoa burrito topped with kale guacamole
  • Whole-grain cereal with milk, nuts and fruit (fresh, frozen, dried, or freeze-dried)
  • Yogurt smoothie with fruit, veggies and flax seeds (See Power Smoothie: Spinach, Apple, Peach)
  • Peanut butter or almond butter on toast
  • Yogurt and chia seeds topped with fresh fruit salad
  • Cottage cheese topped with roasted walnuts and any kind of fruit, such as pineapple, apples, citrus, berries

*Diabetics need to watch portion sizes to keep carbohydrates to 45-60 grams per meal for women and 60-75 grams for men.

Karen’s Fit Tip: Here’s another way to get in your healthy fats… make your own almond milk in minutes! Add 2 1/2 c. filtered water, 1/2 c. almond meal/flour, 1/4 of a vanilla bean (OR 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract), and 1 pitted Medjool date in a blender. Blend at high speed for about 2 minutes. Add more water if you like a thinner consistency or more almond flour for a richer milk. Chill in a glass pitcher. Use the milk in smoothies, over cereal or just enjoy a glass on it’s own.

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