Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

We always hear about how important eating breakfast is to maintaining a healthy weight. According to The National Weight Control Registry, people who lose weight and keep it off have a few things in common: one of them is that they eat breakfast regularly. Okay. Sure. We've heard it. We know. But why? Wouldn't we be saving calories if we skipped breakfast? And if we're not hungry in the morning, why not save the calories until we actually want them?

I used to think this way, back when I was on the diet yo-yo express. But after a nutritionist told me I had to make the time to eat breakfast, I made it a regular part of my day. After a few years, and now after counseling my weight-loss clients, I've realized why breakfast is so important:
  • It sets up the tone of your entire day. If you start out the day with bacon, eggs, and hash browns, what's the likelihood you're going to be in the right frame of mind to eat healthy the rest of the day? On the other hand, a breakfast of brown coconut rice with pecans and raisins (recipe below) will make you feel so good you'll want to keep eating healthy all day.


  • If you don't eat breakfast, you're more likely to overeat later. In one study, researchers found that when people skipped breakfast, they had a stronger response to pictures of fast foods and desserts than people who had eaten a healthy breakfast. It's like a little light goes off in your brain that says, "Must eat everything with butter and sugar now." You can avoid that by starting the day off with a balanced meal.

  • Breakfast is addictive. If you're like me, and don't feel hungry first thing in the morning, just get yourself in the habit of eating breakfast within an hour of waking every day. After a week or so, your body will be so used to it, you'll start waking up ready to eat.
So what are some healthy breakfast options? I always like to start my day off with a green smoothie. No matter what else I eat that day, if I at least have my smoothie, I know I've had a serving (or two) of fruits and vegetables. Plus, if you have a tendency to be irregular, green smoothies are the best thing I've found for restoring regularity.



If you're always on the go, and have to rush out the door, you can bake some muffins to keep in the freezer, or in a pinch, grab a gluten-free snack bar. Most snacks bars have too much sugar for me to recommend for breakfast, but if you have to go that route, Larabars are one of the better options. And before you run out the door, grab a banana or an apple too!



For a while I was addicted to having gluten-free toast with natural peanut butter and almond butter. I couldn't decide between the two, so I had one with each. Sliced bananas would be a delicious addition here!



If it's the weekend and you have more time, you can make pancakes or waffles. Leftovers freeze easily, and can be toasted for a quick breakfast on the weekdays. (Just watch your portions here...)



Have you noticed yet that I like sweet food in the morning? If you want something savory, some of my clients have been making their own egg sandwiches with english muffins, an egg, and turkey bacon or a slice of low-fat cheese. They even freeze them so they can have them throughout the week. There's no need to spend the extra money to buy them at Starbucks (although of course, if you're eating gluten-free, you couldn't do that anyway).

If, like me, your tastes tend more towards hot cereal in the morning, you can make an easy breakfast with amaranth, gluten-free oats, quinoa, pureed sweet potatoes, or brown rice. I love adding fresh or dried fruit and nuts or seeds to my hot "cereal."


Quinoa with Sunflower Seeds and Blueberries


Pureed Sweet Potatoes with Dried Cranberries and Sunflower Seeds


Amaranth with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

I needed to use up some coconut milk this week, so I made Coconut Hot Rice Breakfast Cereal. I've been eating it cold for the sake of convenience (I'm pressed for time in the morning), but it's best reheated before eating.

Coconut Rice Hot Breakfast Cereal
Print-Me

Ingredients:
1 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecan pieces

Directions:
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a pot. Add the raisins, rice, and coconut milk. Bring to boil again, then lower heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the rice starts to get too dry, add a little extra water to keep the bottom from burning.
  2. After 40 minutes, turn the stove off and add the pecans. Stir. Put the top back on and let sit for 10 minutes.
Serves 4

Stop by What Can I Eat That's Gluten Free and Real Food Wednesdays and Healthy Green Kitchen for more healthy recipes!

7 comments:

Lauren said...

Such great breakfast ideas! Thanks for the link =D.

I find that if I don't eat within half an hour of waking up, I'm hungry all day and things get thrown off. Your rice dish sounds fantastic, but I don't think I'd be able to wait that long!! Maybe for dinner though Or brunch...

Iris said...

Thanks Lauren! I definitely couldn't wait either. I make it the night before and then eat it cold in the morning (or reheat it if I'm not rushing).

GF Gidget said...

I don't know how anyone can skip breakfast! Thanks for the ideas!

Linda said...

That's a great list of breakfast ideas. I'm definitely an egg person though. I like smoothies too. My favorite contains fruit, oatmeal, almond meal, and flax meal.

Grace said...

I love love the green smoothie photograph! It's beauuuutiful (:

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Some great and beautiful ideas here, Iris! I always eat breakfast. I'm really ruined for the day if I don't. I have to have a good amount of protein though and I'm fairly utilitarian about breakfast most of the time--leftovers, a quick egg cooked in olive oil, etc. The waffles and such have to be saved for weekends and special breakfasts and not too often for me. I just don't feel well eating breakfast carbs too often. Now, that brown rice concoction looks yummy. I'm thinking it would make a great dessert or snack that's not too sweet. I often like eating nuts with my breakfast perhaps a handful after a green smoothie (that green smoothie is luscious by the way!). I had a wonderful green smoothie for breakfast this morning--such an easy way to get in so many fruits and veggies. :-)

Shirley

Winnie said...

You've got a lot of awesome ideas in here! The coconut rice hot bfast cereal sounds particularly delish...Thank you so much for linking up to my breakfast blog carnival!

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