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Hot tips for a fast breakfast

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Let’s face it. Families are busiest in the mornings. Getting dressed for school and work, ensuring the dogs are in and the cat’s been fed, hustling kids to school, and then getting your own self to work is a challenge. Add in cooking breakfast? Really?

Time and again, it’s been proven that people who skip breakfast overeat during the rest of the day. Kids who skip breakfast do more poorly in tests.  And, conversely, those of us who eat a Hungry Man breakfast (think large, high fat, high calorie) also overeat throughout the day. Finding just the right balance – and ease – is the goal to ‘breaking the fast’ of the overnight sleep. Here at DASH, we prepare our breakfast the night before.

Here are some ideas for you to mull over your a.m. coffee as you add these breakfast items to your grocery list:

  • Overnight oatmeal – In a slow cooker, combine 1 cup steel cut oats and 4 cups water and cook overnight 8 to 9 hours. Before cooking, you could add a couple of tablespoons dried fruit, like apricots, peaches, raisins, cranberries or figs to get in a fruit serving.  In the a.m., ladle into a bowl and drizzle maple syrup to taste. Fresh fruit, like sliced bananas and fresh peaches are also yummy with plain oatmeal. Use a bit of cinnamon to punch up the flavor.
  • Breakfast tacos – nothing is faster than scrambled eggs but they are oh, so boring. Toss a whole wheat or corn tortilla into the toaster oven while you scramble two eggs or egg substitute. When done, fold the egg and a spoonful of salsa and a couple of slices of avocado. If you really must eat on the run, fold the sides of the tortilla in first then roll – this keeps all your goodies intact and off your lap.
  • Camper’s cereal – Into a Ziploc baggy, scoop a portion of your favorite cereal and add dried fruit like raisins and a plastic spoon. Toss this into your bag along with a pint of low-fat milk or soymilk. Once you’re at work, just pour the milk into the baggy and eat your cereal straight out of it. When finished, zip it up and toss.
  • Yogurt, fruit and mueseli – Before bed, place a cup of your favorite yogurt (pick higher protein yogurts like Greek or Icelandic) into a large sealed container and top with ¼ cup mueseli or dry old-fashioned oats. Overnight, the grain will soften. Before eating, add your favorite fresh fruit – think peaches, strawberries or blueberries.
  • Energy bars and fruit – the last resort, pick up a couple of healthy energy bars, like Luna Protein (fewer additives), Lara bar (dried fruit and nuts), or make your own. Toss into your bag with a banana, apple and orange and kick start your fruit and grains first thing.

Healthy Breakfast Bars

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup 100% whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup pitted dried dates
1/2 cup powdered nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch glass baking pan with cooking spray or use a non-stick pan.

In a food processor or blender, pulse all ingredients except the honey and egg whites until the mixture is appears to be finely chopped. Add the honey and egg white and pulse until the mixture is well combined. Mixture will be very thick and pasty.

Spoon the mixture to the baking pan and spread evenly. Bake about 20 minutes. Let cool, then cut into 20 squares.


NOTE: As the dietitian for DASH for Health, an online nutrition education program, I sometimes get to write the weekly message (and I always have input into them all). This is one of them. If you consistently struggle with right nutrition, feel tired, no energy, or have some weight you’d like to lose, take a tour at DASH for Health and join today!



Yo’ Gotta Love Yogurt!

Thursday, July 30th, 2009
Yogurt Sample TastersSome are thick, some thin, and fat content was different in most of them. No, I’m not talking about my DASH for Health colleagues here but rather, yogurt that ranged from fat-free to full-fat versions, both bovine and goat. We tasted them all – multiple times. The DASH for Health team decided to see for ourselves if plain yogurt could really taste good - I mean really. In a blinded taste test (each team member brought in samples and plated them out of sight of the others and relied on a number on the bottom of the plate for identification of our creamy concoctions), we walked around the table and dug in (and yes, since we’ve worked closely together for 8 years, we double-dipped our spoons – wonder if that affected the taste?).

Fat didn’t seem related to taste – or texture. Which seemed curious to us. Some loved the tartness (while others puckered up), others dove into the thick textured versions, and one team member was ecstatic over the ‘cream on the top’ full-fat organic yogurt. For some plates, I can’t even begin to remember how many times we cried out, “Ack!” “Pthu!,” wondering, “Is that cottage cheese?,” or “Why is it so runny?” One of the all-time favs was a locally made yogurt – Sophia’s Greek Pastry (http://www.sophiasgreekpantry.com) made fresh daily with 2% Vermont milk. I’ve tried it in the past and find it simply too rich to eat but some of our tasters vowed to buy their own double-pints on the way home.

My favorite, pre-test, is Fage’s Total 0% fat-free Greek yogurt – with a drizzle of organic maple syrup, whole roasted almonds, blueberries and a spoonful of ground flaxseed. The protein content of a cup of Greek or Icelandic yogurt is like eating 2-2 1/2 cups of regular plain yogurt and the thick, creamy texture is dessert-like.

Yogurt Tasting SamplesBottom line: Plain yogurt tops the chart for our taste testers over those ‘fruit-on-the-bottom’ (or is that jam?), sugar-ladened, whipped and custardized faux yogurts. Once you identify the brand you resonate with, it can be individualized for taste preference with fresh or dried fruit, natural sugar, and nuts for a healthy, protein and calcium-rich breakfast or snack. Hmmmmm, maybe even that late night, after dinner treat!