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We know that breakfast helps recharge our batteries and starts the day off right. But does what we eat for breakfast make a difference? You bet! Take a look at the typical breakfast choices listed below. Then review our easy tips for transforming a not too nutritious breakfast into a healthy meal that fuels your brain and muscles. You'll be ready to get up and go.
Hot creamy chocolate or coffee
If your typical breakfast means drowning down milky chocolate or coffee, think again. Read the numbers and weep: One 12-ounce creamy hot beverage contains 180 calories and 10 grams of fat. And that is without a couple of toasted sandwich (add 530 additional calories and 26 more grams of fat). Not only is this breakfast high in calories and fat, but also doesn't provide the significant amounts of the vitamins and minerals your body craves.
If you're determined to drink your breakfast, whip up a smoothie at home. To save time, put everything into the blender the night before and store in the fridge. Blend for one minute and pour. Try one of these delicious recipes:
Banana Smoothie (in 308 calories you get 11 grams protein, seven grams fiber and only one gram fat. Plus, it is a great source of calcium, vitamins A, C and D, folic acid and potassium): Blend 1 banana, 4 ounces crushed pineapple, 1/3 cup mango pieces, 2 tablespoon of overnight soaked currants, 1 cup skim milk.
Papaya Orange Smoothie (268 calories, 13 grams protein, two grams fiber and only one gram of fat. Plus, it is packed with calcium, folic acid, potassium and vitamins A, C and D): Blend 1/4 cup fresh chopped papaya, 2 ounces fat-free vanilla yogurt, 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup skim milk, 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
Cold Cereal for me
If your version of breakfast involves pouring cereal into a bowl and adding cold milk, make sure you're choosing a high-fiber, low-sugar cereal that is packed with vitamins. You would not even need to take a multivitamin supplement if you choose one of these powerhouses. In a one-cup serving, each has at least five grams of fiber, no more than eight grams of sugar and no more than three grams of fat. Pour skim milk on top and grab a piece of fresh fruit, and you will start the day off right with no more than 300 calories. There are varieties to try: Kellogg’s All Bran; Kellogg’s Fruit N Fibre; Kellogg’s Complete Wheat Bran Flakes; Kellogg’s Shredded Wheat; Quaker Shredded Wheat; Quaker Crunchy Corn Bran.
The Full English or American Breakfast
Okay, so you may not actually eat breakfast in a fast food restaurant, but if you typically start your day with pancakes and syrup, eggs, bacon, toast, sausages and scrambled eggs or omelet compare these numbers: One three-egg, ham and cheese omelet contains 510 calories and 39 grams of fat. Do not forget the sodium - 1,200 mg for this meal alone and the rule is not to exceed 2,400 mg in a day. Make the omelet more nutritious by reducing to two eggs, marsh sardines, chopped tomatoes, onions and dry fry. Better choices include whole wheat toast (hold the butter) with jam, one poached egg, and a side order of fruit. OR Vegetable omelet, orange juice and a side order of fruit OR Whole grain cold cereal with skim milk, orange juice and a side order of fruit OR Plain oatmeal topped with fruit, and orange juice
I prefer the traditional
If you’re more comfortable with the traditional breakfast, that’s OK. Avoid anything too heavy like cooked yam and eggs, fried plantain and eggs or sauce, or boiled rice and stew, stewed beans, and other available options. Leave these foods to midday to avoid you slumping over your desk in the office, unless you know you work on your feet all day. Pick light foods like corn gruel with milk and honey, and if you can face savoury foods in the morning, eat with bean pudding or cake. Boiled potatoes are lighter than yam, so you can boil a few and take it with mackerel or tuna stew.
Pick- up -and -go breakfast
If your usual breakfast is at a glitzy fast food restaurant, being aware of your choices is very important. There is a possibility that if you choose wisely you can get a balanced meal. But be careful, as no one can spoil a perfectly healthy meal like the sellers of fast food. Fast food meals are low in fiber, vitamins and minerals. About all you get from these foods is fat and sodium. For instance a cheeseburger can set you back 500 calories and 30 grams of fat equivalent to six teaspoons of fat. If it’s a couple of scotch eggs, be prepared to pay 500 calories or more depending on the size, and same for 2 pieces of medium sausage rolls.
It’s also very important to be conscious of what you order in fast food restaurants. A few examples are cited below:
Grilled not fried. All fish and chicken are not created equal. Deep-fried foods are submerged in hot oils loaded with artery-clogging trans- fats; grilled foods are obviously cooked by open flame. And when you order grilled; don’t spoil the healthy choice with tons of fried rice or French fries. And if your choice is garden fresh salad, ask for your salad cream on the side so you can spread a healthy quantity yourself.
Words of caution on cheese. Cheese taste great especially melted, and a certain amount of dairy in your diet is good for you. But when you are planning your made-to-order pizza, remember this: An ounce of cheese can contain up to 10 grams of fat! OMG!
When a salad is no longer ‘a salad’. Incredibly, salads have permeated fast food just like French fries. Common sense says you can’t go wrong if you order one, but the primary ingredients of a salad are supposed to be raw, leafy, green vegetables. When a salad is full of cheese, fried chicken, bacon pieces, and drizzled with a fat-rich dressing, it’s no longer a salad. Mixed salads with mayonnaise from your favourite stop points may set you back hundreds of unnecessary calories. If you’re going to eat that much as an accompaniment to a meal, then think again. The salad is enough as a main course. Just top it with fruits and a glass of orange juice, the real stuff not flavoured OJ.
But a sandwich is OK, right? They are quick and easy and potentially wholesome. The trick is to be aware of what you are putting on them. Go for lean meats and skip oil and mayonnaise additives. Forget the six-inch club sandwich with ham, beef, sausage, fried egg and mayonnaise. Select a savoury chicken breast sandwich over a cheese, egg and ham or a mixed salad with a small bottle of yoghurt may be a better option.
Remember if you are stuck and you have to eat in a fast food restaurant you can eat healthy, though your best bet is to eat breakfast at home. If you simply must order fast food first thing in the morning, skip the pastries and fried foods, cheese and meat from your breakfast and save 200 calories and 18 grams of fat. Order low-fat milk, pure water, or orange juice and your breakfast is not only lower in fat, but it also contains healthier vitamins and minerals. It’s possible to make healthier breakfast choices. It’s all about conscious eating.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons.