Wednesday, August 5, 2009



When the fuel light goes off on your car's dash you stop at the closest gas station and fill'er up. When your body's fuel light goes off first thing in the morning many people ignore the signal and dash out running on empty.

Yes, filling up your body's tank before leaving the house is this month's new healthy behaviour.

Breaking the fast or breakfast is one of the most important healthy eating rules that you can follow. When you wake up your body and your brain, both need fuel. Breakfast eaters think faster and clearer, solve problems more easily and are less likely to be crabby during the day. Which if you have a teenager is reason enough to insist they eat breakfast.

Trying to lose weight? Skipping breakfast may sound like a great way to save calories, but breakfast skippers ended up eating the calories they missed and then some. In a study published by Obesity Research, people who lose weight and maintain that weight loss are breakfast eaters not abstainers.

In my perfect world everyone would have time for a sit-down breakfast. If that includes you, go for a whole grain cereal that's low in sugar, salt and fat. Buyer beware, just because it says whole grain on the front of the package doesn't necessarily mean that it's a healthy pick. Make label reading your latest hobby and scrutinize each and every one you read. There isn't a standardized serving size between similar products so make sure that you're comparing equal serving sizes when you're comparing brands.

If you don't know what ½ cup (125 mL) or 1 cup (250 mL) of cereal looks like, measure it out into your bowl so you can eyeball it the next time. Pour on the skim or soy milk, sprinkle with 1 tbsp. (15 mL) ground flaxseed and ¼ tsp. (1 mL) ground cinnamon. Top with ½ banana or ½ cup (125 mL) of your favourite fresh or thawed frozen berries.

Finish your breakfast off with ½ cup (125 mL) calcium-fortified orange juice and you're good to go. The calorie count for a healthy breakfast for the average person should be between 400 and 550 calories. My breakfast is around 400 calories.

When we're in a hurry I set the table the night before with the bowls, empty juice glasses, spoons, cereal boxes, cinnamon, bananas and a knife. It really helps speed things up. The next morning it feels like the Breakfast Fairy came while we were sleeping. All that's left is getting out the ground flaxseed, milk and juice.

On weekends, try a bowl of steel cut oatmeal. For price and flavour I like Steel Cut Oats, topped with ground flaxseed, cinnamon, walnuts and some dried fruit.

We all need something for breakfast to get our engines revved and ready to go. But if you really don't have time in the morning, here are some Dash and Dine ideas for a breakfast on the run:

Trail mix:
Make this version the night before.

In a portable container, toss together 2 tbsp. (30 mL) of your favourite unsalted nuts, 1 cup (250 mL) whole grain cereal, ¼ cup (60 mL) dried fruit — raisins, dried cranberries, dried mango or apricots.
Calcium-fortified orange juice
PB morning:

2 slices 100% whole grain whole wheat toast - make sure the label says whole grain whole wheat.
Spread with 1 to 2 tbsp. (15 to 30 mL) peanut butter; wrap it up in wax paper and go.
Calcium-fortified orange juice
Egg lovers:

The night before, hard cook two omega-3 eggs, peel and store in the fridge overnight.
Calcium-fortified orange juice
An apple a day:

1 large apple
2 tbsp. (30 mL) unsalted nuts (walnuts are a great combo with the apple)
Calcium-fortified orange juice
Blender mornings:
Whirl this in a blender until smooth, pour into a thermos and shake before drinking.

1 cup (250 mL) skim or soy milk
½ cup (125 mL) vanilla lower fat yogurt
½ cup (125 mL) frozen blueberries
½ banana
¼ tsp. (1 mL) ground cinnamon

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