March 14, 2010

The Sunday Sampler - Health

Welcome to a new installment of The Sunday Sampler.  This is the day where I share my insights, thoughts, and opinions with you about different things in three categories: fitness (gear/clothing/accessories/etc.), parenthood, and health rotating each category each week.  I hope that makes sense! :)  
My hope is that I will be able to help you along your adventure just like so many others have helped me. So, let me know what you think!  I'd love to read about your perspectives on these things as well!  :) 

O-kay, so I know I'm supposed to be rotating my posts, so technically this should be about exercise.  But, I was asked to do a post about healthy breakfast options.  I don't know about you, but cereal just doesn't cut it for me when it comes to breakfast.  Yes, it's easy, but it lacks the substance to keep me going throughout the morning.  That being said however, I still eat cereal on occasion.  But, we are conscious about what cereal we buy, and we always load it up with berries, raisins/cherries, and sprinkle a little ground flaxseed on top.  This helps, but I'm still starving by 9 o'clock!   Now, I am far from perfect and there are days when we go to Starbucks and get a pumpkin loaf (yum) or Panera for a cinnamon roll, but for the most part, we make breakfast every morning and enjoy it as a family before heading off in different directions.  So, I thought I'd share with you some of my family's favorite things to eat for breakfast.  I would love to hear what you eat too, so please share! :)  

Breakfast Ideas:
We've all heard it before, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day."  Well, whether you believe that or not, here is some quick info about the importance of eating breakfast:

*  This is probably my favorite analogy:  Imagine you're a car.  After a long night of sleeping, your fuel tank is empty.  Breakfast is the fuel that gets you going so you can hit the road.  
*  Breakfast gives us a much needed energy boost for the rest of the day.  
*  Studies show that those who eat a healthy breakfast not only snack less, are more focused, and have more energy throughout the day, but also tend to be thinner than those who eat an unhealthy breakfast, or skip it all together.  
*  Not making time for breakfast may lead to consuming high calorie/carb foods that even the most active person would have a hard time burning.  
* Kids who don't eat breakfast are less able to learn at school, get less iron in their diets, and are more likely to have a higher BMI, which is a sign they may be overweight. 
*  Kids who eat breakfast do better in school, are more likely to participate in physical activities, and tend to eat healthier overall.  
* Studies show that besides assuring optimal development and growth, positive effects on alertness, attention, and other skills important for academic success are enhanced for those who eat breakfast on a daily basis. 
*  Eating breakfast leads to steadier blood glucose, better concentration, and more success at reaching your healthy weight goals.  
* A six-year study compared the mental and physical efficiency of a group of adults throughout the day, some of whom ate healthy nutritious breakfasts while others did not.  When compared to those who ate breakfast, the people who did not became less efficient as the day went on.  Their productivity improved after eating lunch, but by the end of the day their work completion was slower than those who had eaten breakfast.  

So, here are some of our favorite breakfasts:

1.  Quinoa with cherries and walnuts

So, I know most of us don't have a lot of time in the morning for breakfast, especially if you have children who need to be shuffled to school.  But, this is really easy and doesn't take much time at all.  There's a little chopping involved, but really you just put the ingredients in the pot, let it cook, and eat it when it's done.  For me, I wake up, get it started, then go about getting myself and boys dressed and ready for the day.  This breakfast is full of healthy goodness and is a nice change from oatmeal.

Makes about 4 servings

*  1 1/3C quinoa (make sure you rinse it really well first)
*  2 2/3C water
*  1 small apple, unpeeled, cored, and cut into small chunks
*  1/4C dried cherries
*  1/2C chopped walnut pieces
*  1/2tsp. ground cinnamon
*  2Tbl. honey or agave nectar
*  1/2C soymilk
*  ground flaxseed

1.  Put the quinoa and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook 5 minutes.
2.  Add the apples and cherries and cook, covered over low heat, until water is absorbed, about 10minutes more.
3.   Stir in the cinnamon, honey, and milk.  Cook for 1 more minute, so the milk is heated through.
4.  Place into bowls and top with walnuts and ground flaxseed.  Feel free to add more honey and milk to taste.

2.  Smoothie and whole wheat toast with peanut/almond/cashew butter
Sorry, this isn't the best picture.  I forgot to take a pic before eating some of my smoothie...:)
For me, the options for smoothies are endless.  You can add fresh fruit, frozen fruit (Costco has amazing frozen blueberries and strawberries), hemp protein powder, hemp seeds, cacoa/carob powder, 100% fruit juices, milk,  yogurt, water, etc..  But, some of the basics that I almost always use are plain yogurt, soymilk, and ground flaxseed.  From there I put whatever I have inside the blender, blend it up, and serve it with some whole wheat toast covered with some peanut butter.  I also like to drizzle a little honey over the peanut butter (yum!).

Oh, and I love to add chopped spinach to my smoothies.  They add a great nutritional punch to the smoothie and you don't even taste it.  It turns the smoothie green, but I could care less what color it is! :)

3.  Steelcut Oatmeal with mix-ins

I love oatmeal and my boys absolutely love it too!  This takes some time to cook, so what I do is put everything in our rice cooker on the porridge setting before going to bed, set the timer, and it's ready when we wake up.  Easy peasy breakfast!  You could also use a crockpot on the low setting if you didn't have a rice cooker.

For all of the combos below, we just put all of the ingredients together and cook it.  When it's finished, you can top it with sliced almonds, hemp protein powder, peanut/almond/cashew butter, fresh fruit, or whatever your heart desires. Here are some of our favorite combos:

A)  Our version:  1 1/2C steelcut oats, 4C water, 1 1/2tsp. cinnamon, 2 1/2Tbl. br. sugar, 2 apples (unpeeled, cored, and cut into small chunks), 3 handfuls of raisins, 3Tbl. ground flaxseed.

B)  Maple & Brown Sugar:  1 1/2C steelcut oats, 4C water, 2Tbl. maple syrup/agave nectar, 2Tbl. br. sugar, 3Tbl. raisins, 3Tbl. ground flaxseed

C)  Cranberry-Date:  1C steelcut oats,  4C water, 1C dried cranberries, 1C chopped pitted dates, 3Tbl. ground flaxseed

D)  Almond-Date:  1C steelcut oats, 4C water, 2/3C chopped pitted dates, 1/3C almonds, 3Tbl. ground flaxseed, 1/4C brown sugar, 1/2tsp. cinnamon, 1/4tsp. salt

4.  Old fashioned Oats -quick and easy oatmeal
This is probably one of my favorite breakfasts.  It is super easy to make and is ready in less than 5minutes!

Here's what I use:  3/4C old-fashioned oatmeal (not the quick cooking kind), some raisins/dried cherries, 1/2 banana sliced, 1Tbl. ground flaxseed, 1Tbl. hemp protein powder, dash of cinnamon, little bit of raw sugar, 1Tbl. peanut/almond butter, and soymilk (enough to cover the oats).

Here's how I do it:  I mix everything in a microwave safe bowl, put it in the microwave, and cook it for 1 1/2 minutes on high.  Viola!  It's done and really yummy!  

5.  Yogurt with granola, berries, and lots of add-ons
This is another simple breakfast that's super easy to make.  I use plain soy yogurt, whatever fresh berries we have, 1/2 banana sliced, ground flaxseed, and granola.  You can then add dried cherries/raisins/cranberries, sliced almonds, hemp protein powder, hemp seeds, or whatever else you feel like adding.  

6.  My scones and breads of course! :)

Again, I would love to hear what your favorite breakfast is!  I'm always looking for new things to eat. 

I hope you all are having a great weekend.  :)


trifitmom said...

super healthy. i do instant oatmeal with fruit ....

Julie said...

Now I have many new healthy breakfast ideas:) thanks for sharing! The quinia looks so good:)

Jon said...

U R AWESOME! Thanks for sharing some more great recipes. My staple after an AM workout is a breakfast burrito, which is super super simple: 2-3 scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and salsa on a flour tortilla shell. It surprisingly has the correct ratio of fat:protein:carbs.

KK said...

Breakfast is my favorite meal-thanks for the ideas.

Anne Marie said...

wow!again, thank you so much for so much info! i never thought to have Quinoa for breakfast. hmm...will do this week. you better be writing these for a future book.
thank you!

misszippy said...

Some great recipes. I am a big breakfast devotee and am making sure my kids are too. That said, I do love my cereal! I buy healthy kinds and tend to load them up w/ berries/nuts as well.

Amber Shea said...

These all look so great and nutritious! I try to eat whole grains most mornings too, though sometimes I make do with just a large smoothie. I've been wanting to try quinoa for breakfast for awhile, I'll have to try it with your measurements (though probably cut in half for just me). Does it keep well leftover?

Anonymous said...

I like tehm all. Just made quinoa for the first time last nite for dinner with my tilapia. Will have to try it as a breakfast time. LOVE raw oats with add-ins and some almond milk..YUM!

Regina said... favorite meal of the day! I think i have had every one of those breakfasts in some form or another. I love the quinoa and oatmeal with added fruits, nuts and even unsweetened coconut! I'm an almond milk fan and am about to change my son over from milk. Now I am hungry!

liz said...

It all looks so yummy ! During the week my breakfasts are simple: green smoothies or toast with peanut butter / margarine and Vegemite. On the weekends we splurge with muffins or hearty oatmeal. Yet, my favorite recovery breakfast is still, hands down, tofu scramble !

Big Daddy Diesel said...

This year, finally I have started eating breakfast and I see a huge difference.

Christi said...

Thanks for the great breakfast tips. This is the one meal I am really trying to improve at. My triglycerides just can't handle Starbucks lemon loaf every day!

Aleta said...

Quinoa has become our new favorite breakfast food. Love the recipe you posted! Thanks! Good luck with the new Sunday sampler!