That phrase about breakfast you probably heard growing up is still ingrained in your brain: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But is it still true today? You bet. However, it’s more likely that your family’s morning “scramble” means that they’re colliding with each other while leaving the house for work and school, instead of sitting down together for a nutritious a.m. meal.
If you’ve skipped that a.m. fuel-up of protein, whole grains, fruit, fiber, and bone-fortifying calcium (and studies show that 20 to 30 percent of American adults do), chances are you’re out of gas by late morning. And if you’re passing up breakfast, your kids might be, too. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that’s not good for kids that are growing, especially when 40 percent of a child’s bone mass gets built between ages nine and 14, reaching 90 percent by age 18 for girls, and age 20 for boys.
Life gets busy, and you can’t always take a seat at the table every morning. Still, there are ways to get there at least some of the time for a healthy bite. Here are some family breakfast ideas, whether at the table, or on the run:
Hard-boiled eggs: Think portable sources of protein (7 g)! The nutrient choline helps boost brain and memory power, too. Low in fat (5 g; 1.6 g of saturated fat), and calories (75), follow boiling directions the night before, then refrigerate to be ready for the bus or car ride. (Adults trying to lower their cholesterol can still eat eggs, just limit other high-cholesterol foods when you do, or opt for an egg substitute. One egg contains 213 mg, and the American Heart Association advises on a daily 300 mg limit for adults).
A “toast” to whole grains. Grab a slice of nutrient-rich rye, oat bran, pumpernickel, wheat, or toast to go! You can also choose a whole grain waffle, topped with peanut or almond butter (depending on allergies). Protein bars with whole grains also pack well as a pick-me-up, but opt for those without added sugar or syrups. The same goes for cereals with barley, brown rice, quinoa, and others. They, too, get a thumb’s up, with skim milk, calcium–and-vitamin D-fortified almond or soy varieties, or low-fat yogurt topped with fresh fruit. Whole grains can help with lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Get the scoop on fruits, nuts, and seeds. Bananas, berries, oranges, melons, and more offer different benefits, from fiber and potassium, to vitamin C. Look for what’s in season, or you can also choose frozen. Cut up your choice of fruit for a big bowl, and mix in almonds, pistachios, or walnuts, plus ground flax seed for added protein, crunch, and good omega-3 fats. Prepped the night before, everyone can spoon out a serving to eat before they leave in the a.m., or store portions in individual sealable containers to take for the road. (This mixture also satisfies for snack attacks!)
Remember, with a little planning, even a quick-but-healthy breakfast helps start your body’s energy engine, rev up metabolism to help maintain a healthy weight, and fill you up until the next meal. Don’t skip it!
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano