Thursday, January 21, 2016

Let's start at the beginning (part 2)

Continued from yesterday's post...

Originally I thought about just one post with breakfast ideas, but I rambled WAY too long about smoothies, so here's part 2.

Starting off your day with a nutritious breakfast will set the tone for the rest of your eating day.  One good decision in the morning will lead to good decisions through the day.  Granola bars and cereals disguised as healthy are not the way to start your day.  They're full of sugar and will have you crashing shortly and wanting more sugary foods.  (Tip from the documentary "Fed Up": ingredients are listed in order by the largest content in the food, so if sugar--or another name for sugar--is one of the top three ingredients in your food, it's really a dessert.)

So, today, I have two more simple, fast, nutritious breakfast ideas for you.  Like I said before, if you eat the EXACT SAME THING everyday, you'll get bored.  Change it up, have fun, and develop a few go-to meal ideas.

2.  Oatmeal
Oatmeal has never been my favorite. It's always been too bland, or too much sugar, so I buy it and feed it to my children (because as mom's it's totally acceptable to feed our children healthy food we would personally never eat, right???)

I started looking for more breakfast ideas because I sometimes want a hot breakfast, and a hot smoothie sounds disgusting.  So, I started in on oatmeal.  Below is my most favorite creation, and it's got a lot of stuff, so don't be intimidated when you see the recipe.  Oatmeal is a blank canvas to make it how you want.

My oatmeal starts with multrigrain hot cereal, added with a combination of almond milk and applesauce, cinnamon and little vanilla. Pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes, add chia seeds, blueberries and real peanut butter.  YUM!  Just like that oatmeal become a dear friend, instead of the weird cousin you have to let come over sometimes.

1/3 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup milk (regular, almond, soy, coconut, pick you favorite)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (optional)
1/3 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon real peanut butter

Combine the first five ingredients, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and poke a hole in the wrap.  Microwave for two minutes.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, stir and enjoy!

Tip:  If this makes too much or too little for you, the oatmeal to liquid (milk and applesauce) should be 1:2.  Need more oatmeal? Make it 1/2 cup oatmeal and a total of 1 cup of milk and applesauce.  Need less?  Use 1/4 cup oatmeal and 1/2 cup of milk and applesauce.  I also use more or less of the milk and applesauce depending on what I have, just so it equals up to the right measurements of liquid/sauce.

3.  Eggs
Sometimes, I not only need a hot meal, but I need a "comfort food" breakfast.  The new dietary guidelines have eggs back on the (breakfast) table.  Eggs can be your friend, or they can be a way to disguise unhealthy eating.  Let's make eggs your friend.  I am not recommending eating a big breakfast with eggs every morning, but they can be a great addition to a balanced nutritious diet.  (This was advice from a dietitian I saw, not made up by me.)  If you want to learn about about the nutrients in eggs, read this article.

One of my favorite, fast egg meals starts with hash browns (just shred a potato with your cheese grater--if you don't have a cheese grater, stop reading and go get one now) cooked in olive oil with a little paprika, garlic, salt and pepper.  You can also find shredded hash browns frozen with the only ingredients being potatoes and dextrose, and maybe citric acid (essentially the acid in citrus fruit.)  Dextrose in the potatoes breaks one of my rules, it's not a whole food and you can't pick it up easily in the grocery store, but this is an area where I'll occasionally break the rules in favor of a fast meal.

While the potatoes are cooking, slice and dice some veggies.  I like cherry tomatoes, onions, maybe some garlic, bell peppers, mushrooms and spinach--use what you have and what you like.  If you have room on one side of the pan with the potatoes, toss in your veggies and let them cook together, or wait until the potatoes are finished and cook the veggies.

Plate the hash browns and veggies. Cook an egg or two however you like it.  I scramble mine with homemade taco seasoning and it tastes amazing.  Add the eggs on top of your hash browns and veggies.  Top with slices of avocado.  Sooo goooood!

Other ways to eat eggs:
  • Add beans to your eggs, or on the side for additional protein and tastiness.  As a bonus, beans are also considered part of the vegetable food group--yay! 
  • Wrap them in a tortilla for a one handed meal with your cooked veggies and a bit of cheese.  If you need more protein use a protein source you have already cooked (ground turkey, chicken, beans, or plant based protein) cook it in taco seasoning and hot sauce and add it to your wrap.
  • For a less than 5 minute meal, turn on the pan, scramble eggs with salt and pepper. While the eggs are cooking toast some wheat bread and add real peanut butter or mashed avocado.   It's super fast, you can do this!  
  • An omelet is perfect for adding lots of veggies, or even protein.  Admittedly, I usually add so much stuff it no longer looks like an omelet and definitely doesn't stay together well. 
  • Toasted wheat bread with pesto, cooked tomatoes and mushrooms with egg whites.  I pre-make my pesto and then freeze it in ice cubes to pull out small amounts when I need it.  
  • Another favorite combination is spinach, tomatoes, feta and egg whites all mixed together and scrambled.  
  • Delicious add ins:  beans, any veggies you like, mushrooms, salsa, guacamole, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cajun seasoning, chicken, soft cheese, or hard cheese.  
Okay, I said three ideas for breakfast, but here's a bonus:  Greek yogurt.  It's a blank canvas you can make your own.  The taste can be a little tangy, so I've added in fruit purees, nuts, frozen fruit, fresh fruit, chia seeds, and occasionally a teaspoon of honey.  This is one of my toddlers favorite breakfasts.  The Greek yogurt also provides good protein to start your day strong!
One of my toddlers favorites, yogurt with frozen blueberries (he insists on frozen, no idea why)
You'll notice I always say plain Greek yogurt but then I tell you to add fruit puree.  You're thinking, why not just buy the fruit yogurt?  It's loaded with sugar and not just from the fruit.  Companies make it sweeter to make it taste better.  Sugar is cheaper than more fruit.  So, buy the plain yogurt, and add as much fruit as you want knowing you're avoiding added sugar.  Tip:  freeze fruit purees into ice cube trays and the night before put a couple in a bowl in the fridge to be ready for breakfast the next morning.

Enjoy your breakfast!

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