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Wake up to benefits of a nutritious breakfast

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By Greg Summers

When it comes to giving the body the energy it needs, setting the stage for metabolic function and getting the intestinal tract on track, breakfast is still plain good for you.

Yet, fewer than half of Americans (about 44 percent) eat breakfast each day, according to the International Food Information Council.

The reasoning is simple; a morning meal breaks an eight to 10-hour fast and replenishes the body’s supply of blood glucose, which is needed to keep a body going throughout the day.

Research shows breakfast eaters – who include whole grains, fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables in the first meal of the day – have better-quality diets than breakfast skippers.

They also consume higher intakes of fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc and iron as well as fewer calories, and less dietary fat and cholesterol. Breakfast skippers are also less likely to make up for missed nutrients at other meals during the day.   

According to findings from The National Weight Control Registry, essential nutrients missed at breakfast are not compensated for during other meals of the day. Adults, children and adolescents who regularly eat a breakfast that includes high-fiber foods such as ready-to-eat cereals, calcium and low-fat milk products have a healthier body weight and/or body mass index.

High-protein, high-fiber breakfasts also have a way of making you feel full, greater which may improve overall diet by reducing the amount of food eaten over the rest of the day.

Building a better body

Eating breakfast may provide other potential health benefits including promoting heart, digestive and bone health.

Studies have also shown that a well-balanced breakfast helps children perform better in school by improving memory, alertness, concentration and problem-solving ability. Those factors have a direct impact on test scores, school attendance and mood.

That means it is not a meal to skip or skimp on.

The good news is that a healthy breakfast is easy to achieve.

According to professionally trained chef Philip Jones, there’s a misconception that a nutritious breakfast can't taste good.

From turkey sausage and Canadian bacon to egg whites and whole grain breads, breakfast foods can have both appetite appeal and good nutrition.

“The sky is really the limit on the number of healthful options you can prepare for breakfast,” said Jones, president of Jones Dairy Farm. “Items not typically thought of as breakfast foods such as pizza, burritos and sandwiches are all great options if you incorporate wholesome ingredients like low-fat proteins and fresh fruits and veggies. Use your imagination and you’ll wake up looking forward to the most important meal of the day.”

Economical breakfast ideas

Fortunately, getting a good breakfast on the table in the morning doesn’t require a lot of time or expense.

Here are some simple tips:

– Plan in advance – According to a recent survey, on average, moms spend 20 minutes each morning making breakfast. You can save some time by working ahead. Recipes like Banana Crumb muffins can be made ahead of time.

– Make breakfast a family affair – Ask your children to help with breakfast preparation. It can foster togetherness and encourage healthful eating, plus it saves you time.

– Mix it up – There is no need to sacrifice great taste for nutrition. Recipes like Breakfast Pitas have both.

Breakfast Pitas

Ingredients

8 turkey sausage links

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped red or green pepper

1 tablespoon chopped celery

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt

2 pita breads, cut in half

1 tomato sliced thinly

Shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

– Prepare sausage as directed on package, slice thin and set aside.

– Saute onion, peppers and celery in oil in large skillet on medium-high heat until tender. Stir in eggs, sausage and salt. Cook on medium heat, drawing cooked portion of eggs to center until all egg mixture is almost set. Stir in yogurt. Cook until egg mixture is completely set. Divide egg mixture evenly between pita halves.

– Add tomato and sprinkle on cheese.

– Recipe adapted by Gregory A. Summers from www.napsnet.com

Banana Crumb Muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 bananas mashed

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

Directions

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

– In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the four mixture until just moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

– In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

– Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean.

– Recipe from allrecipes.com