Tag Archives: healthy breakfast ideas

cereal

Starting Your Day Right: How to Choose a Healthy Breakfast Cereal

According to ABC News, 31 percents of adults who actually eat breakfast (you should be one of those adults, by the way), choose cereal as their morning meal. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one of them, of course, is convenience. Cold breakfast cereal is fast, it’s easy, and it can be portable. You can throw some dry cereal in a to-go container, bring it to work with you, and eat it right at your desk with some milk from your work cafeteria. No excuses, right?

The problem with cold breakfast cereal, though, is that they’re not all created equally when it comes to nutrition. Unfortunately, many of the cereals available, especially those marketed toward children, are full of sugar. It’s not just the obvious cereals that are way too sugary, though. Some of the cereals you might think are healthy, like raisin bran, can also start your morning off to a not-so-sweet start.

There’s literally a whole aisle in the supermarket devoted to breakfast cereal, so it can certainly be difficult to navigate the choices, especially when cereal marketers want you to think their cereal is the right choice by labeling them with things like “heart healthy” or “whole grain”. The answer to whether or not a cereal is a good choice always lies on the nutrition facts label, not on the claims made on the front of the box.

Start with Calories

At the top of every nutrition facts label, you’ll see a calorie count. When you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, you want to always choose a cereal that contains fewer than 250 calories per cup. It’s even better to find one that contains fewer than 120 calories per cup. When checking calories, pay close attention to the serving sizes listed on the label. Depending on the type of cereal (granola versus flakes, for instance) servings can vary from ½ cup to a full cup.

Move on To Fiber

Once you’ve figured out the calories per serving, next up is fiber. Fiber keeps you full, helps lower cholesterol and keeps you regular. Many people fall short of their daily fiber needs, so it’s always a good idea to start your day off with a healthy dose of fiber. Choose a cereal that contains at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. If you can find a cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, that’s even better.

Size Up the Sugar

Sugar is the area where many cereals fall short. Even if a cereal is high in fiber, it may still contain way too much sugar. Ideally, you want to choose a cold cereal that contains fewer than 5 grams of sugar per serving. It’s difficult to rely on the nutrition facts label alone though because it lists both sugar from natural sources, like raisins, and added sugar. Look at the ingredient list for words like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, rice syrup, sucrose, or dextrose. All of these words indicate that sugars have been added to the cereal – and they’re ingredients that you want to avoid.

Go Whole

Many cereals have claims on the front that boast that the cereal is “made with whole grains”. While this may be true, it doesn’t mean that the cereal contains enough whole grains to classify it as healthy. In order to figure out if a cereal is actually 100 percent whole grain, you’ll have to look to the ingredient list. One of the first two ingredients should be whole grain wheat or whole grains oats. If instead, the ingredient list contains enriched wheat or bleached wheat, it’s a good indication that the grains are refined and not the best choice.

What is your favorite cereal and how does it stack up against these recommendations?

breakfast

Your Mom Was Right: Breakfast IS the Most Important Meal of the Day.

Breakfast is often dubbed as the most important meal of the day, and rightfully so. Many people on weight loss diets skip breakfast thinking that it will save calories and boost weight loss, but actually, it does the opposite. Skipping breakfast increases your hunger, which can lead to cravings and overeating throughout the day. On the flip side, eating a healthy breakfast can jump-start your metabolism and set you up to be a lean, mean calorie-burning machine. But it’s not just about weight. People who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their needs for vitamins, minerals, fiber, calcium, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. Eating breakfast can also increase energy, improve concentration, boost athletic performance, and improve grades (for all you students out there!).

How Breakfast Increases Energy

When you sleep, you’re essentially going through a fasting period, and if your body is functioning as it should, your blood sugar levels drop. When you skip breakfast, your blood sugar levels drop even further. Low blood sugar levels can trigger hunger and cause a drop in energy. Low blood sugar levels can also lead to intense cravings, especially for unhealthy foods like pizza, bagels, sweets, and other refined carbohydrates. When you give in and eat these types of foods, your blood sugar levels spike, which gives you a quick boost of energy. While it’s nice at the time, this quick boost of energy is ultimately followed by a crash that leaves you feeling drained and even worse than before.

How Breakfast Improves Your Mood

In addition to making you feel hungry and fatigued, low blood sugar levels can also leave you feeling cranky and irritable. Your body uses healthy carbohydrates to produce serotonin – a neurotransmitter in your brain that improves mood and can have a calming effect on your body – so when you eat breakfast, and include some healthy carbohydrates, your mood becomes more stable throughout the day.

Meeting your Nutrient Needs

When you skip breakfast – or any meal for that matter – you miss out on an important opportunity to get in essential vitamins and minerals. Including a serving of fruit or vegetables at breakfast increases the likelihood of not only meeting your fruit and vegetable recommendations for the day, but also your needs for certain vitamins and minerals.

What Should I Eat?

Eating SOMETHING for breakfast is better than skipping it altogether, but of course, some choices are better than others. For example, eating a carbohydrate-dense breakfast, like a bagel, gives you energy for a couple hours, but can lead to that resulting energy crash. It’s best to have a complete breakfast that contains a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Combining all the food groups will not only optimize the nutrient content of your breakfast, but it will help keep your blood sugar levels stable, which can make you feel fuller longer.

Incorporate whole grains, such as mini whole-wheat bagels, oatmeal or whole-wheat toast, as well as lean proteins, like almond butter, eggs, or even chicken (think outside the box!). Include a low-fat dairy product, like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and don’t forget to complete the meal with some fruits and/or vegetables.

Examples of balanced breakfasts include oatmeal topped with blueberries and a handful of almonds, an egg omelet with mixed vegetables and low-fat cheese and a smoothie made with fruit, leafy greens, yogurt and flaxseed.

What about Cereal?

Because of its convenience, dry cereal is a go-to breakfast choice for many people. While some breakfast cereals can be a healthy choice, others are loaded with sugar and calories and can do real damage to your weight-loss journey. If you like eating dry cereal for breakfast, look at nutrition labels diligently and choose cereals with 120 or fewer calories per serving, at least 3 grams (but ideally 5 grams) of fiber per serving, and fewer than 5 grams of sugar per serving.

Need some more healthy breakfast ideas? Check out these 34 ideas from Greatist.

chia pudding

Chia Seed Porridge: A Hearty, Guilt-Free Breakfast

Okay, based on our last two posts it may seem like we’re a little bit chia-obsessed, but you know what? We are! Chia seeds have SO many health benefits (more on that here) and because they’re so rich in protein, just a couple of teaspoons can keep you full for hours. When you’re trying to lose weight, that’s exactly what you want, right?

The only problem with chia seeds is that sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what to do with them. You hear they’re healthy so you go out and buy a big bag, but now what? It’s easy to throw a couple handfuls in your morning smoothie, but that can get redundant. We wanted to make sure that we don’t leave you hanging by just recommending you include chia seeds in your diet; we want to also provide you with a couple recipes to get you started with this new super food. Last week, we told you how to make a delicious two ingredient chia jam and this week, we’re going to show you how to make a warm and comforting chia seed porridge.

It has the consistency of oatmeal, but it’s grain-free, richer in protein, and lower in carbohydrates, so it will help keep you full for longer. Plus, it’s easy to throw together in just a few minutes and we’re big fans of quick and easy when it comes to the kitchen. This recipe makes two servings.

 

Here’s what you need:

2 small, ripe bananas

¼ cup chia seeds

1 ¼ cups coconut milk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Optional:

2 teaspoons raw sunflower seeds

¼ cup blueberries

Shredded coconut

Here’s how to make it:

Mash bananas in a saucepan with a fork over medium-high heat. Add chia seeds and mix until combined. Stir in coconut milk, vanilla, and cinnamon and stir over heat until all ingredients are incorporated and porridge is nice and hot. Remove from heat and top with sunflower seeds, blueberries, and coconut (or whatever toppings you want!).

Allow to cool slightly and enjoy!