The statement “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is hardly news. Maybe it gets repeated so often because for many of us it is such a low priority item that we need to be reminded. Some studies show that as few as 15% of adult Americans take time for a real breakfast. And what about kids and seniors who are finicky? We know why we don’t eat in the morning: When you’re trying to get out the door, stopping to prepare and eat a nutritious breakfast can be inconvenient and many, including myself, are not hungry or interested in eating breakfast anyway! After raising five children and living with seniors, I know it’s an issue for all ages.
The scientific truth is that consumption of an early morning meal increases the metabolic rate (how fast you burn calories) and kick starts your body into gear, telling it what to expect for the rest of the day. If breakfast isn’t had, your body doesn’t process your next meal as quickly and tries to hold onto those nutrients. In simple terms, if it didn’t get any morning fuel, it tries to hold onto the afternoon meal as long as possible – instead of burning it right away. Some say you need something in the first 30 minutes, others the first hour or two. My doctor says “within 12 hours of the last meal” is soon enough.
No breakfast triggers a long, hard day for your body and spirits. We may have saved some time and calories, but at what price? Being hungry, cranky and much more inclined to making poor food choices for the rest of the day is easy to address if you have something fast, easy and yummy!
How about a quick bowl of cereal? The “yes, buts” on this one are eye-opening.
Until the late 1800’s, simple cereal grains, with all their fiber and natural nutrition, were cooked in the home either as porridge or bread. They were the staples of breakfast around the world. In the early 1900s, John Harvey Kellogg established a health spa of sorts in Battle Creek, Michigan where they served their own simple-to-digest cooked cereal. An entrepreneur named Henry Perky invented a way of passing the Kellogg’s steamed wheat through rollers, one grooved and one smooth, to form strands that could be pressed into biscuits to make the first shredded wheat. Others joined in the manufacturing of turning cooked grains turned into flakes and puffs. By 1903 Battle Creek had turned into a cereal gold rush. At one point there were over 100 cereal factories operating in the town to satisfy the new craze, many making fabulously exaggerated claims about the health benefits of their products. Advertised health claims and the promotion of packaged breakfast cereals has continued in a frenzy ever since.
In the highly mechanized process the valuable natural nutrients are lost. Thus, from the very beginning of the cold cereal industry back in the early 1900’s, vitamins and sugar were replaced to make it somewhat nutritional and palatable. “Sugary junk with milk and vitamin pills added” has been an accusation for many years by health pros and government officials who have taken on the daunting task of how cold cereal is negligently marketed to children. (See my link below for more information on cold cereal.)
Cereal is usually topped off with milk, which is also a surprisingly controversial food item in terms of the body’s need and ability to use it. (If this doesn’t seem right to you, just google “is milk good for you?” and be prepared for all the information, or use my link at the bottom. Then go without it for a week or two, using other sources to get your calcium, and see which maladies start to dissipate. My favorite site for help with understanding how the often deficient American diet and making easy, significant improvements h is listed below. It just might change your life.
So what are healthy alternatives to a quick bowl of over-processed cereal?
Several years ago I was introduced to the concept of “food combining” in a wonderful book called “Fit for Life” by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. In it, they outline how the body best processes foods at different times of the day for optimal functioning. Their thought is that in the early hours of the day, the body quickly and easily processes simply fruit for energy and efficiently starts the body’s daily functioning.
Nutritionally speaking, fruit has no match! In fact, it’s the rare individual that doesn’t crave it because our bodies were designed to. Our early ancestors (think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden!) were not predominantly meat eaters at all, but subsisted mainly on fruit. Its high water content flushes the body with water. It has all the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, amino acids and fatty acids that our wonderful bodies need to function well. Fruit requires practically no energy to be digested and allows your body to create, not burn up, energy as the sugar from fruit (glucose) is in the form that your body can easily turn into energy. So, Instead of your body putting a lot of energy towards digestion and turning the food into a useable form of fuel, it is already in an easily digestible form. The energy goes straight to you.
After reading the book, we gave the “just fruit for breakfast” plan a go for two weeks, eating primarily just fruit in the morning as the book suggested. It was delicious and we really enjoyed it.
I truly suggest you do the same and see how you feel. By paying attention to my body, I found that when I ate carbs (be it toast, cereal, etc.) I was immediately sleepy! I have learned to avoid carbs until at least 10:00 or 10:30 a.m. to avoid that early morning drowsiness. The problem is that we were not always satisfied with just fruit. Sometimes we were hungry no matter how much we ate and to be honest, no matter what the book said, we just plain missed our grains!
On the other hand “just fruits” makes a very satisfying and substantial answer for children and seniors who really don’t want to eat in the morning. The “just fruits” theory is that you only eat until you’re full, so even a small amount of fruit is sufficient to get the body started each day. This is a happy answer for children and seniors who don’t want to eat.
Others find that they really do need some lean protein, be it eggs or other animal protein, to feel their best. However, I slowly evolved into making breakfast smoothies made with more than “just fruits” by adding spinach, seeds and soy milk. Believe it or not, the spinach has no taste, but adds bulk and volume. Having the ingredients in the fridge and freezer makes for a fast quick breakfast that can be taken in the car if necessary. On the weekends, we get our grains with cooked cereal, pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc.
Do our kids like our weekday smoothies? Our frozen banana smoothies had been a favorite breakfast staple for years, usually teamed with whole wheat cinnamon toast. As we have learned to added additional fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.
, they’re still on board. It may be wise not to let them watch you make the smoothies. Seeing all that spinach can be a jarring sight for some!
The first essential ingredient is ripe bananas, peeled and frozen in one-inch chunks. (Dian Thomas talks about this frequently.) We buy a bunch of bananas with the strict intent of letting them ripen for freezing. I peel, then break into small places, then keep in a container the freezer. Blend them with soy milk, a little vanilla and the sweetener of your choice, and they are more delicious than ice cream.
The other ingredients are spinach (I buy it in big bags at Costco) and frozen berries (I buy the big frozen bags, also at Costco.)
OK, breakfast lovers! Here are some gems:
Carolyn’s Breakfast Smoothie
I drink one nearly every morning, and love the natural energy it brings! Sometimes we’ll even have one for an easy supper.
cup frozen blueberries
1 large handful of fresh spinach
frozen banana, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup crushed ice
1 Tbsp. flax seeds
to cup soy milk
to cup water
healthy sweetener of choice to taste (I like Stevia)
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
Blend in a blender. Start it slow, you may have to stop it a time or two and stir with a wooden spoon before turning the blender on again.
I encourage you to google for other smoothie recipes. For me, the trick to having them be more substantial is some nuts, seeds and veggies.
Nuts– almonds, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, macadamia
Seeds– sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, flax, hemp, chia!
Oil– flax, coconut, hemp, avocado
On the weekends, when we have more time, we often make pancakes or cooked cereal for brunch, although we have usually had some fruit earlier in the morning.
Here’s a yummy alternative to whole wheat cereal or oatmeal:
Fruity Breakfast Barley
1 cup orange juice
14 cup dried apricots, chopped
dash of ground cloves
1 cup quick cooking barley
1 Tbsp. honey
1. In a saucepan combine the orange juice, apricots and cloves with 1 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
2. Stir in the barley. Cover and simmer 12-15 minutes or until the barley is tender.
3. Stir in the honey. Serve with soy milk, if desired.
Makes 4 servings at 165 calories each
These recipes are good for making on the weekends to freeze and use on busy weekdays.
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk (or soy milk)
1 large egg
cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
tsp. baking powder
tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. flax seeds.
1. Pour the milk over the oats and let stand for 5 minutes
2. Stir in the egg
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients
4. Add the oats and milk mixture and stir just until combined.
5. Cook on a griddle, using a cooking spray.
6. Serve with fruit topping or sugar-free syrup.
Makes 8 pancakes at 156 calories each
Whole Wheat Pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. applesauce
2 cups buttermilk (or soy milk soured with 1 Tbsp. of vinegar)
1. In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients
2. Add the eggs, applesauce and buttermilk, and stir just until blended. It will be lumpy.
3. Cook on a hot griddle, using a cooking spray
4. Serve with fruit topping or sugar-free syrup.
Makes 12 pancakes at 145 calories each
Zucchini (or Carrot) Muffins
cup whole wheat flour
cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/s tsp. salt
1 egg white
cup soy milk
1 Tbsp. butter
cup grated zucchini or carrot
1 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves and nutmeg
1. Combine the dry ingredients
2. In a small bowl, beat the egg white until just foamy
3. Add beaten egg white to milk along with the butter
4. Drain excess moisture from the zucchini (or carrot) and add it along with the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture, stirring just enough to moisten.
5. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray or line with muffin cups. Fill to full.
6. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes
Makes 8 medium muffins, 124 calories.
Well, that’s it for 3 Bs – I’ll be back in two weeks with something new to think about and eat!
www. GreenSmoothieGirl.com (I love this site! It just may change your life.)
“Don’t We All Need Milk?” GreenSmoothieGirl.com has a great beginning article:
GreenSmoothie Girl loves bouncing and rebounding too!
Drop That Spoon, A History of Cold Cereal
Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area. Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available for free through the first of week of September from her website, www.MyMiracleTea.com or at Amazon.com Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at www.MyMiracleTea.com