Despite good intentions to prepare a nutritious breakfast, it’s often tempting to grab something on the run, only to fall flat when it comes to nutrition and energy. Yet making a nutritious breakfast is as easy as 1-2-3, according to Chef Devin Alexander, a health and wellness expert and best-selling author.
“When you start the day with coffee and a pastry, your blood sugar peaks quickly and then it crashes, which may send you for another sugary snack, adding empty calories, fat and sugar to your diet. But if you include three simple components – protein, whole grains and fruit – you’ll kick-start your day and feel satisfied until lunch,” she says.
Here are Chef Alexander’s three simple steps to a better breakfast:
Step one: protein
A key component of a better breakfast is protein. The Institute of Health’s Dietary Reference Intake recommendations allow anywhere from 10 percent to 35 percent of total calories for normal healthy adults.
“Most Americans struggle to take in enough protein to make up 35 percent of their daily calories,” Alexander says. “One way to stay satisfied all morning is to add protein to your diet as part of breakfast.”
A recent survey of bacon-eating consumers found that bacon is the most popular breakfast protein, with taste cited as the No. 1 factor that sets it apart from sausage and ham. Despite a love affair with bacon, however, 40 percent of respondents also listed fat content and sodium levels as their most important concerns when selecting bacon.
If you want to enjoy delicious bacon flavor and crisp texture, but with less sodium and fat than pork bacon, Jennie-O offers a new and improved turkey bacon, a product with 60 percent less fat and sodium than conventional pork bacon, according to USDA data.
Eggs, another source of protein, were cited as the most popular food to eat with bacon, according to survey respondents. If you want the protein but without saturated fat and cholesterol, there are a variety of egg substitutes and egg whites available that work great in breakfast recipes.
Step two: high fiber carbs
“It’s a myth that all carbohydrates are bad,” says Alexander. “Carbohydrates that deliver fiber and nutrients, like fruit and whole grains, provide energy, and the best ones also deliver high fiber to help digestion. With high-fiber choices, your body is using up 25 percent of the high-fiber food’s calories just to digest it, and it’s going to fill you up, too.”
High-fiber choices abound for breakfast, from whole grain breads and muffins to hot or cold cereals. Jazz up these choices for added nutrition and flavor. For example, try topping oatmeal with dried fruits such as raisins or apricots, or even unsalted nuts. Top a whole wheat English muffin with chunky peanut butter and a sliced banana for a satisfying treat.
Step three: fruits and berries
Fruit and berries pack in a host of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, plus fiber. And because of their high water content, you can eat more of them than denser fruits.
For instance, you can enjoy a full cup of berries versus half of a banana or half of a large apple for the same number of calories. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are all good choices, as the richer the color, the more antioxidants and vitamins they will have.
During the winter when it’s harder to get fresh berries, buy freshly frozen berries and keep them on hand to incorporate into breakfast. So have fun. Toss them on cereal. Add them to yogurt for a flavorful parfait. Fold them into pancake batter, and flip with happiness.
Get creative and have fun with breakfast
Jennie-O and Chef Alexander have teamed up to create four signature breakfast recipes providing a creative way to start the day. These recipes and other great morning recipes are available on Jennieo.com and SwitchToTurkey.com.
California Breakfast Sandwich
Try this recipe with a side of fruit to enjoy all three components of a better breakfast.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Butter-flavored cooking spray
2 egg whites
1 whole wheat English muffin
1/4 small avocado, cut into three slices or 1 ounce Wholly Guacamole Classic dip
1 large or 3 small, thin tomato slices
2 slices JENNIE-O turkey bacon, cut in half crosswise
Mist a large ramekin (about 5 inches in diameter) with spray. Add the egg whites. Set aside. Heat a medium-nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lay the bacon strips side-by-side so they do not touch. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, turn and cook 1 minute longer until cooked to desired crispness, about 2 to 3 minutes total. Place on a paper-towel-lined plate. Meanwhile, poach the egg whites. Separate the halves of the English muffin and toast. Place the bottom half of the English muffin on a plate. Add avocado slices or spread 1 ounce of Wholly Guacamole Classic dipon English muffin. Add the egg, tomato and bacon. Cover with English muffin top. Serve immediately.
Makes 1 serving: 277 calories, 17 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugar, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 602 mg sodium.