Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ideas for a Quick and Healthy Breakfast

This semester I am teaching at 8:30am. In order to fit in an hour of exercise, a shower and breakfast in time to catch the 7:10 bus to campus I spend a little time on Sunday preparing several breakfast items that just need to be reheated or assembled on weekday mornings. I don’t operate well on an empty tummy, so I always make sure to have a healthy breakfast that will keep me fueled for hours. No matter what your schedule, I'm sure you're pressed for time in the mornings - but you also need a good meal, so here are some of my favorite options:

Steel Cut Oats
Unlike the more common old fashioned and quick cooking oats, steel cut oats are thick rice-like grains. Because they are thicker they take longer to cook (about 20 minutes – follow the directions on the package – for a little extra fiber add in a couple tablespoons of flax seed meal). Like many others, I prefer the chewier texture of these whole grain oats to quick cooking oats. I make a big batch on Sunday. When I want some in the morning I scoop some into a bowl, drizzle with a little non-dairy milk and microwave for 2 minutes. I often top my oats with some walnuts, a dash of cinnamon, a little agave nectar, and some dried or fresh fruit. Of course, rolled oats (quick cooking or old fashioned) are a very healthy option to - but it's better (and MUCH cheaper) to buy them plain and then add a little honey or agave or jam. The pre-sweetened packets not only have a ton of sugar, they also have an outrageous amount of sodium.

Quinoa Muesli
Like the steel cut oats, quinoa takes about 20 minutes to cook, so I cook a batch on Sunday. There are many tasty options for using quinoa, you could reheat it and serve like the oats. One of my favorite options is to mix equal parts quinoa and yogurt. Then I add in a dash of ginger and cinnamon, some nuts/seeds, and half of a chopped apple or pear.

Quinoa “fried rice”
I tend to eat sweet dishes for breakfast, but this is one of my favorite savory items. To make quinoa “fried rice,” sauté some veggies (pre-chopped zucchini, onions, carrots, peas, cabbage, garlic – take your pick) in a little toasted sesame oil for 2 minutes then push the veggies to one side of the pan and scramble an egg in the other half of the pan. To serve mix the veggies, egg, and however much (pre-cooked) quinoa you like; season with a little salt or soy sauce. The taste of this dish reminds me of fried rice and it is equally good for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Everyone (except my husband, what a weirdo!) like pancakes, but they aren’t exactly quick to whip up; however, they freeze beautifully! On Saturday or Sunday mix up a big batch of flap jacks (use your favorite recipe and try adding in some whole grains, flax seed meal, oats, or almond flour to healthy them up) and cook them all. Eat what you like, then wrap individual portions (2-3 depending on size) in foil and freeze. Just like Eggo’s, all you need to do to serve them during the week is pop the frozen pancakes into the toaster. Instead of the traditional syrup, try topping them with some apple butter, nut butter, agave, jam, and/or honey. My favorite combo is nut butter and banana. Below are links to a couple of my favorite pancake recipes.

Granola Parfait
Not so original, but oh so good! I LOVE yogurt and granola, so this is one of my favorite breakfast (and snack) options. Simply top yogurt with some chopped fruit (or stir in some applesauce), and granola. Here’s a link to my granola recipe.
For the last month I (really my personal chef/husband) have been making my own yogurt. It’s very simple, and I plan to blog about it really soon!

Of course, you could always eat a quick bowl of cold cereal, if it is a healthy one (e.g. raisin bran, not fruity pebbles). But variety is nice!

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