It’s that time of year – back-to-school means back to busy. Last-minute emergencies, morning moods and lack of time can certainly derail breakfast routines. Although convenient, most available quick options, such as sugary cereals and pastries, are not nutritionally designed to curb hunger and carry energy levels until lunch. These types of breakfasts may get you out the door faster, but they won’t fuel your body for the day. “When planning breakfast, keep two things in mind: fiber and protein. A high-fiber carbohydrate will break down slowly and provide lasting energy, while the protein source will sustain hunger for a bit longer. Both help stabilize blood sugar to avoid mid-morning sugar crashes,” Blount Memorial registered dietitian Heather Pierce said.
A few high-fiber carbohydrate options include berries, apples or pears, oats, 100 percent whole wheat toast, tortillas, or English muffins (look for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving). Quick protein choices can include boiled egg; natural cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, gouda etc.; Greek yogurt (plain or light - look for lower sugar options); nut butters; nuts; ham; turkey; chicken; or vegetarian sausage. “So, with that in mind, you can pick one from each list: boiled egg and pear; English muffin with peanut butter; Greek yogurt with berries and walnuts -- you get the idea,” Pierce explained.
There also are several healthy options that can be prepped ahead for easy grab-and-go possibilities on busy mornings. Overnight oats, baked oatmeal, homemade frozen breakfast sandwiches and smoothies all have gained popularity. “Sure, you can get some of these commercially, but they will be high in sodium and fat, so we can very easily make these at home and have a healthier version,” Pierce said.
If you love meat and eggs, you might try frozen breakfast sandwiches. You will need a six-pack of English muffins (or you can use other breads or tortillas); scrambled eggs; cheese; and ham, turkey or sausage. Prepare sandwiches and wrap in saran wrap or place in sandwich bags. To reheat, remove the plastic wrap or bag, and place in a paper towel in the microwave on 50 percent power for one minute to help thaw. Then, heat on regular power for another minute.
Smoothies are a great choice if you love fruit for breakfast. For a smoothie, you’ll need: ½ to 1 cup Greek yogurt or cottage cheese; 1 cup frozen fruit; ½ to 1 cup almond milk; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; and 1 tablespoon sweetener (honey, monk fruit, stevia or maple syrup). Place the liquid ingredients in the blender first, then add cottage cheese or yogurt. Blend for two or three minutes until smooth.
“I also love energy bites for quick and easy breakfasts or after school snacks. They have about 100 calories per ball which may be good for kids who tend to eat very little at a time,” Pierce said. Easy energy bites ingredients include: 3 cups rolled oats, or instant oats for a finer texture; 1 cup creamy peanut butter (can substitute sun butter or almond butter); and ½ cup of honey. Potential add-ins for fiber or taste could be mini dark chocolate chips, chia seeds, milled flax seeds or dried fruit. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, refrigerate for 30 minutes and then form into balls. These can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.