First Posted: 2/10/2013
February can be a tough month to stay on task with healthy eating and being active. One meal which seems to get short changed is breakfast. This Valentine's Day, give your love ones and yourself a sweetheart breakfast which is good for your heart.
For most families, time pressure is the chief reason for skipping breakfast, although we know that breakfast is important for first-rate learning at school and reduces the chance that you will grab a quick donut at the office or drive through.
Keep ideas for quick breakfasts handy when planning your grocery list. Healthy breakfast includes at least three food groups. The first is whole grains. Whole grains have much value because they contain the bran, endosperm and germ. When put all together, they have a synergistic effect, meaning that each part by itself doesn't have the whole value. Whole grains also contain different types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibers are mostly beta glucan and pectin. They are found in beans, psyllium, oats, flaxseed and oat bran. Oats are a soluble fiber, which means that they act like a sponge and absorb the lousy or LDL cholesterol which are attached to bile acids and escort it out of the body. The body reacts by absorbing less cholesterol from the food we eat and the liver pulls more cholesterol from the blood to replace the lost bile acids. This is what makes blood cholesterol levels drop. Last week's column discussed the importance of know your blood cholesterol level.
How much soluble fiber like oats should we be eating a day? The research shows that, in order to have the lowering cholesterol effect, it takes about 3 grams of beta glucan a day, or 1/1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal, ¾ cup of uncooked oatmeal added to meat loaf, muffin batter or a topping for yogurt or fruit or a combination.
Dairy is the second group to include as part of your breakfast. Low fat milk, yogurt and/or low fat cheese are great sources of calcium, vitamin D and protein. Look for ways to include dairy with other foods if you feel that dairy foods by themselves bothers your stomach.
The third group to include is fruit/vegetable. It's interesting to note that there are great ways to include vegetables at breakfast. Omelets, egg wraps, and baked muffins can add vegetables to your breakfast.
Breakfast is best when it includes whole grain, dairy and fruit/vegetables. Here are examples of quick, well-rounded breakfasts:
Bake up a make-ahead omelet by mixing eggs, cheese, veggies or other add-in and pour into a muffin pan sprayed with oil. Bake at 375 degrees until a knife inserted comes out clean - around 15-20 minutes. When done, the omelets can be frozen and reheated and popped into a whole grain pita. Complete with orange slices and lowfat milk.
Fruited low fat yogurt and whole grain granola is an easy, portable choice that can be enjoyed when you get to the office.
One cup of whole grain oatmeal (all oatmeal is whole grain), chopped apples and lowfat milk.
Whole grain cold cereal topped with low fat milk. Add a piece of fresh fruit to complete the breakfast.
When parents take the time to eat with their children and model a good breakfast, the positive effects are long lasting. Here is a great recipe which includes whole grains and vegetables, two out of three recommended groups. Serve with low fat milk or a lowfat yogurt.
1 3/4 cups pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, and oil thoroughly.
Blend dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
Mary R. Ehret, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is with Penn State Cooperative Extension, Luzerne County, 16 Luzerne Ave., West Pittston, Pa., 18643. (570) 825-1701/602-0600. Fax (570) 825-1709. firstname.lastname@example.org.