A bowl of cereal with milk and fruit, or yogurt with fruit and granola are the quick and easy standby’s for me in the morning. They are fast and filling, not too heavy, and smart shopping keeps the added sugars low and nutrients high. I have recently started throwing in a handful of walnuts or pecans for a satisfying texture change (if you get bored with your food, think about texture as much as flavor).
Over the winter, I rediscovered hot cereals and think I’ll keep them on the menu at least for a little while longer this spring. They take a few more minutes to prepare, but many can be prepared in advance and reheated each morning for a quicker AM starter. For example, bulgur is a grain not many people are familiar with. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we “make half our grains whole,” and bulgur is a great way to get there. It is found in the grains section of the grocery store, usually near rice and cous cous. It takes about 15 minutes to cook with water, so I prepare about 4 servings at once and only cook it one morning a week.
My favorite breakfast bulgur dish is spiced up with chopped apples and currants coated in cinnamon, a little steamed milk (not too much so you don’t make soup!), a handful of pecans or walnuts, and a drizzling of pure maple syrup. The chewy, dense bulgur, the sweetness of the fruit, and crunch of the apples and nuts… this is not the same ol’ breakfast! On your reheat days, just add cold milk to the bulgur and reheat in the microwave.
Here are a few more tasty ways to “break” the night’s “fast”!
- Ready-to-eat dry cereal with 5 g sugar or less (those with fruit will have more sugar, but still aim for 10g or less on these) with skim milk, chopped bananas, pecans
- Oatmeal (cook the unflavored stuff) with just a drizzling of molasses and chopped pears or apples
- Scrambled egg with bell peppers and onions rolled up into a tortilla (who says veggies aren’t for breakfast?)
- Plain nonfat yogurt with nuts, granola, and berries
One final note- some people ask me if breakfast is really necessary. Some people feel they are not hungry in the morning or just don’t like breakfast foods. First, there are no breakfast foods. Eat what you like, whether for snacks, dinner, lunch, or breakfast. Second, getting some fuel into your body and brain within a couple of hours of waking will help you to think better, feel better, and do better. It doesn’t have to be a lot of food- as with any other meal, eat slowly and notice how hungry you are. If you are not convinced breakfast is important, worried about whether you’ll just be adding calories to your day, or not convinced you’ll find breakfast solutions that you’ll like and that you can fit into your day, check back for new posts on the science of breakfast and easy breakfast solutions.