Raise your hand if you eat breakfast. When I speak to a group and make this request, about half the room raises their hands, which means the other half does NOT eat breakfast. Breakfast "breaks the fast" from overnight and kicks your metabolism into gear. You are more likely to stick to your calorie requirements throughout the day and keep your energy level up if you have something to eat when you get up. I'm not insisting that you wake 30 minutes earlier and cook each morning, but simply eat something to start your day off well and wake up your brain.
A good breakfast consists of whole grains, fruit and/or veggies, and some protein for balance. Protein can come from eggs or lean meats, milk, nuts or nut butters, yogurt (Greek has even more protein), cereals, etc., and will make your breakfast more satiating, or satisfying. Fiber does the same by slowing down the digestive process so you aren't hungry again in an hour. Oatmeal, cold whole grain cereals, nuts, fruits and veggies are all great sources of fiber.
I am not a morning person, I will use every last second that I possibly can to sleep, so breakfast for me has to be quick and easy. I would never consider sending my kids to school without breakfast, however, which is good incentive for me to eat along with them. Here are some of my favorites for quick and easy breakfast.
Top your own oatmeal: Make up a big batch of stovetop oatmeal some morning when you have time, like plain steel cut oats or good old-fashioned Quaker Oats. I have even done this at night after dinner, cooled it, then stored it in the fridge. In the morning, just pop a bowl in the microwave, add a little milk to make it more liquid (it solidifies a bit in the fridge), and top it as you like. My kids haven't been big fans of oatmeal in the past, but setting the table with cinnamon, maple syrup, applesauce and pumpkin and telling them to load up their oatmeal however they wanted made it much more fun for them! And it's so good.
Don't even want to heat up your oatmeal in the morning? You don't have to. Try this refrigerator oatmeal
, which is ideal in the warmer months. Mix it up at night and set it in the fridge, stir in the morning, and you never even have to cook it. Just eat! It's so good with berries on top, you can even cut down on the honey if you add the fruit for sweetness. I don't use whole milk, I use 1% or skim, still yummy.
Preparing breakfast ahead of time is a great way to make sure you don't go without. Here are a couple make-ahead options that I used on my Seven Days of Real Food experiment.
Breakfast Casserole Bites
: fill with breakfast meats, veggies, whatever you like. Freeze them or keep them in the fridge to microwave for breakfast, or a snack anytime.
Banana Oatmeal Cups
: Bake your oatmeal into a muffin. Also a great freezer option. See also the link to this blog's Berry Oatmeal Cups
. Not only for breakfast, it's a perfect snack or addition to a lunchbox.
Another option I like is plain yogurt with pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and a little maple syrup. You can even throw in raw pumpkin seeds for a little crunch.
I got a Ninja (food processor) for Christmas, and I can whip up a smoothie in no time. I like plain Greek yogurt, banana, frozen berries, a little kale or spinach and a splash of liquid (OJ, milk or coconut water), but there are tons of options out there. You can even throw some peanut butter in there for a bit more protein, or avocado for creaminess and healthy fats. Experiment on days when you have time, and find your favorite.
There are the more obvious choices too, whole grain cold cereal is great ( love Kashi Autumn Harvest), but don't forget to top it with fruit or have some fruit on the side, and finish off the milk from the bowl for that extra protein and calcium. Whole grain toast or English muffins with nut butters and a banana on the side and a glass of milk is another go-to of mine.
Not a fan of breakfast food? Fine! Whole wheat tortillas with melted cheese and sliced apple, PB&J sandwich, leftover dinner from the night before, whatever! Just plan ahead a bit so you know you have something you can eat before you head to work, or grab when you run out the door. And have a good day!