By Andrea Paul, Registered Dietitian
We’ve all heard many times before; breakfast is the “most important meal of the day”. The reason this phrase has stuck is because it’s very true. In this article, I will explain why breakfast is so important, as well as share a favorite recipe for quick and healthy breakfasts.
One of the first questions I ask people who want advice on making their diets healthier is: “Do you eat breakfast?”. The answers/excuses I often get are “I don’t have time”, “I don’t have an appetite in the morning” or “just coffee”. You wouldn’t try to drive to work without gas in the tank, right? So why do we zip off for the day without fueling our bodies? A healthy diet and eating pattern should always include eating something before you head off for the day. Eating breakfast leads to all kinds of positive effects; improved energy levels and focus, stable blood sugar, easier to resist less healthy foods, and improving metabolism.
Furthermore, because of these positive effects, eating breakfast is also linked to maintaining a healthyb ody weight. Granted, the mornings are a hectic time for most people. Besides getting themselves up and dressed, many people are responsible for getting children ready and out the door, not to mention walking the dog, feeding the cat, and just generally getting organized for the day. But, getting that last 10 minutes of sleep instead of eating something probably isn’t going to give you extra energy you need. Consuming something in the morning helps get glucose (aka energy) into our blood stream, raising our blood sugar and giving us a boost of energy after a night of fasting (because we don’t eat when we’re asleep). Alternatively, not eating breakfast means that our bodies will burn other fuel sources, like muscle protein to keep us going, as well as slow down our metabolism to conserve energy.
If you’re someone without an appetite in the AM, I encourage you to try to eat something within an hour of waking up. It doesn’t have to be big – a granola bar, piece of fruit or toast is fine. Obviously, that’s not enough to fuel you until lunch time, so I suggest eating something a bit more substantial with a couple hours when you’re feeling a bit hungrier. You might find that with time, you do have an appetite in the morning.
Below you’ll find a favorite recipe of mine that works really well for mornings because you make it ahead of time, reheat, and you’re off! Bonus: It’s nutritious AND delicious (one of my favorite sayings!). It incorporates multiple foods groups in one dish, including dairy, whole grains, and fruit, and it delicious served warmed up with milk, or cold with yogurt or plain. I hope you like it!
Banana Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
Prep Time: 40 minutes (15 mins prep, 25 mins cooking)
1 extra-ripe banana
1 cup blueberries
1 large egg
1 cup skim milk
2 tablespoon maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar
1 ½ cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 350° Spray 8×8 inch baking pan with non-stick spray.
- Mash bananas in a bowl, add egg milk, sugar, and walnuts. Mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl, mix oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir until combined. Fold in blueberries.
- Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges start to brown.
Nutrition information (per serving): 283 calories, 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 45g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 10g protein, 314mg sodium
Refrigerate until ready to eat. Microwave in bowl with milk or serve with yogurt like Cabot® Greek-Style Low-Fat yogurt. Or just eat it on its own.
Additional ingredients for nutritional boost include: 2 tbsp ground flax seed, 2 tbsp oat bran, or 2 tbsphemp seeds.
Baking times will be different for different ovens and depending on size of pan used. If you use a bigger
pan, the oatmeal will take less time to bake.
Recipe adapted from epicurious.com