69208_631304800228285_414594421_nIf you and your children regularly skip breakfast in the interest of saving time, calories or getting a few more minutes of sleep, remember that eating a wholesome, nutritious morning meal will probably save you time in the long run. By recharging the brain and body, you’ll be more efficient in just about everything you do. While adults need to eat breakfast each day to perform their best, children need it even more. Their growing bodies and developing brains rely heavily on the regular intake of food. If you and your children seem unable to make time for breakfast, consider enrolling your children in a school breakfast program, if possible, or pack a breakfast brown-bag or smoothie the night before that can be eaten on the way to school and work.

Some people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but the practice is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss. Skipping breakfast is strongly linked to the development of obesity. Studies show that overweight and obese children, adolescents and adults are less likely to eat breakfast each morning than their thinner counterparts. Breakfast skippers tend to eat more food than usual at the next meal or nibble on high-calorie snacks to stave off hunger. Several studies suggest that people tend to accumulate more body fat when they eat fewer, larger meals than when they eat the same number of calories in smaller, more frequent meals.

Are you skipping breakfast because you are trying to limit calories ? To teens, especially teenage girls, skipping breakfast may seem like a perfectly logical way to cut down on calories and lose weight. However, skipping breakfast can lead to a number of problems when it comes to trying to lose weight and keep it off. If you are trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, consider the following reasons to eat breakfast every morning. Eating breakfast is a great way to get your metabolism working well for the day. When your body receives food in the morning, it tells your brain that you’re going to need to start working to digest it. This wakes up the system and warms up the metabolism, so it’s ready to work throughout the day. When you don’t eat breakfast in the morning, your body thinks that it needs to conserve the energy it has because it isn’t getting any more through nutrition. This actually slows your metabolism down, which results in a decrease in the amount of calories you burn all day long.

Feeding yourself in the morning will keep your spirits up throughout the day for a number of reasons. First, since your body won’t think that it’s starving after a nutritious meal in the morning, it’s easier to get in a good mood and stay that way. It also provides plenty of needed energy to help you get through the regular tasks of your day, which can help keep your mood bright and optimistic. Second, a healthy meal in the morning can also help to regulate your blood sugar levels until lunch time, which plays a vital role in your mood.

Overall, eating something for breakfast is better than eating nothing at all. Although, the more balanced your meal is, the better off you will be. Instead of a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast that will leave you feeling heavy and sluggish within just a few minutes, consider having a fruit smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh berries, which will invigorate your body and give you the energy needed to get through the day.You can also save time by preparing breakfast in advance. See below for some of my recommended recipes.

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cups of steel-cut oats
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Toppers, such as dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, or snipped apricots; coconut; chopped nuts; brown sugar; maple syrup; low fat milk, fat free half-and-half. See additional suggestions below.

Directions

In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine the water, oats and salt. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 1/2 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

Top each serving with desired toppers. Here are some additional suggestions:

  • Prepare as directed in Step 1, except stir 1/2 cup apple butter and 1/4 cup dried cranberries into oat mixture before cooking. Top each serving with vanilla yogurt and cinnamon.
  • Prepare as directed in Step 1. Stir 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter into cooked oatmeal. Top each serving with strawberry jam and granola.

Top each serving:

  • with sliced banana and chopped peanuts. Drizzle with honey.
  • with fresh raspberries and/or blueberries and chopped pistachio nuts.
  • with cubed mango and toasted coconut. 
  • with purchased trail mix and snipped dried apricots or mixed dried fruit.
  • with fresh blackberries, graham cracker crumbs and toasted chopped walnuts.

Breakfast Pita Pizzas

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms or vegetable of choice
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 small)
  • 3 ounces mozzarella cheese or cheese of choice, cubed (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion (1)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 whole wheat pita bread round, split horizontally
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes, drained well

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and green pepper; cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, green onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and black pepper.

Place pita halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each with the mozzarella cubes. Top with vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Allow to cool. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat for 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave or 4 to 5 minutes in the toaster oven.

Easy Frittata

Prepare this casserole the night before. It can bake in the oven while you watch your favorite TV show. If you have leftover meat you want to include, replace ½ cup of the fresh vegetables with a ½ cup of cooked meat.

Serves: 8 (square slices)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 sweet medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 5 cups chopped vegetables of choice (zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, red bell pepper, asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli florets, leftover cooked potatoes)
  • 12 large eggs or 3 cups refrigerated egg substitute
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons low fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat a glass baking dish (9 x 13 or 8 x 11 or similar size dish) with cooking spray.

In a skillet, saute onions and vegetables in olive oil until tender for 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk eggs; add shredded cheese, milk and seasonings. Fold in cooked vegetables. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly brown and puffed on top and firm. Let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into 8 squares, wrap individually and refrigerate or freeze.

The next morning reheat a square in the microwave or toaster oven for your breakfast. If frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator.

Almond Cereal Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 cups whole-grain cereal flakes (such as, Kashi or Kellogg’s)
  • 2 cups oat and bran O cereal (such as, Cherrios)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, unsweetened dried cherries or other dried fruit of choice

Directions

Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave the almond butter and honey on high for 30 seconds, then stir until blended.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the cereals and dried fruit. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until warmed.

Gradually stir the almond butter mixture into the cereal until thoroughly and evenly coated. Press into the prepared pan. Refrigerate until set and firm. Cut into 10 bars.

Pack each bar (only 144 calories) in plastic wrap or freezer bags and refrigerate or freeze for a grab-and-go breakfast. If frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator.

Yogurt Fruit Cups

4 servings

Love the convenience of yogurt with fruit in the bottom but hate the added sugars? Make your own with fresh fruit and rich Greek yogurt for a more healthy breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberries or whatever fruit is in season
  • 1 17.6-oz. tub nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (about half of a medium lemon
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey

Directions

Rinse, hull and finely chop the strawberries. Toss with the lemon zest and sugar in a bowl and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften and become slightly syrupy.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the milk and Greek yogurt together.

Alternate 2 layers of fruit and yogurt in four 8-oz. Mason jars or other lidded container of your choice.

Yogurt cups will keep in the refrigerator for about a month. So, you can double or triple the batch to have plenty on hand.

Make-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

Makes 12 sandwiches

  • 12 Whole Grain English Muffins (100% whole wheat)
  • 12 large eggs
  • Salt, to taste
  • 12 thin slices ham or cooked Canadian bacon
  • 12 thin slices white American cheese

Directions

Spray a 12 cup muffin tin generously with cooking spray. Crack 1 egg into each spot. Break each yolk with a fork. Sprinkle each egg lightly with salt.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes or until eggs are completely set.

Remove eggs from pans using a spoon and let them cool on a large platter.

Cut English muffins in half and toast them. (Either in a toaster or in the oven on a baking sheet at the same time you are baking the eggs).

Place 1 slice of cheese on the bottom muffin half of each sandwich. Top with a slice of ham or bacon. Add 1 egg. Close the sandwich.

Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap then in aluminum foil and freeze.

When ready to serve, remove all packaging and wrap the sandwich in a white paper towel.

Microwave for 1 minute on 50% power. Turn sandwich over and microwave for 1 more minute on 100% power.

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