You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again — breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating it kick-starts your metabolism, improves your concentration and can even help you maintain a healthy weight. But, yes, busy schedules mean we don’t always make the time.
Your day’s first dish doesn’t have to be elaborate — just make sure it packs a powerful punch. If you’re breakfast wary, check out four of my favorite standbys for the busy workweek.
Spelt Granola Cookies (shown above)
Cookies for breakfast? Your kids will love the idea. Make these on your day off and enjoy them all week. You can even freeze an extra batch for later. I bake these for pro athletes (with a bit of added protein powder for extra fuel), and they’re a big hit. For a complete meal, pair a cookie with a hard-boiled egg and some seasonal fresh fruit.
Serving: 1 cookie (makes 24 cookies)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 ½ cups spelt flour *
- 2 cups low-fat granola (I use Back to Nature Sunflower & Pumpkin Seed)
- 1/3 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* If you can’t find spelt flour in your supermarket or health food store, you can replace it with unbleached, all-purpose flour.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, agave, butter, vanilla and egg until blended. Mix in applesauce. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix these dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the granola and cranberries. Combine.
Spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray. Drop heaping tablespoon-sized portions of batter onto the cookie sheet and space about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until springy in the center. Cool 2 to 4 minutes and then remove from the cookie sheet.
Calories: 120; Fat: 4.6 grams; Saturated Fat: .1 grams; Protein: 1.68 grams; Carbohydrates: 19 grams; Cholesterol: 10 milligrams; Sodium: 67 milligrams; Fiber: 1.3 grams
Creamy Cranberry-Almond Mini Bagel
A client of mine inspired this grab-and-go meal; she wanted to add protein and healthy fats to her standard bagel breakfast, and nuts provide both. Get creative by switching up your dried fruit and nut choices. Again, paired with some fresh fruit, you have a well-balanced, get-you-going meal.
- 1 whole-grain mini bagel, sliced
- 2 tablespoons light cream cheese or low-fat farmers cheese*
- 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoons almond slivers
In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, cranberries and almonds. Divide the cream cheese mixture between the halves of your bagel or eat like a sandwich. You could also spread the cream cheese and sprinkle the cranberries and walnuts as well.
Calories: 207; Fat: 7.6 grams; Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams; Protein: 7.5 grams; Carbohydrates: 28 grams; Cholesterol: 11 milligrams; Sodium: 239 milligrams; Fiber: 4 grams
*calculation uses light cream cheese
This next recipe is for the non-cookers out there who still want a comforting morning meal. Of course, quick-cooking oatmeal is the most convenient choice, but the packaged, flavored kinds can have a lot of extra sugar and may not fill you up.
- 2 cups vanilla soy milk (you can use skim milk with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 2 cups low-fat, plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar, divided
- 4 tablespoons raisins
Combine milk, Greek yogurt and oats in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add brown sugar and raisins. Serve cold. The mix lasts 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Calories: 292; Fat: 5.75 grams; Saturated Fat: 1.8 grams; Protein: 48 grams; Cholesterol: 6.8 milligrams; Sodium: 142 milligrams; Fiber: 4.5 grams.
Quinoa Breakfast Cereal
Cold cereal is the old standby, and there are plenty of options at the supermarket, but sometimes a bowl doesn’t cut it — especially on a chilly morning. Making this cooked dish takes a bit more planning, but prep a big batch and you’ll have plenty to enjoy through the week.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup pears, thinly sliced (you can use apples as well)
- 1/3 cup dried cherries (you can use cranberries or raisins as well)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 8 oz skim milk or soy milk, divided
- 4 teaspoons honey or agave, divided
Rinse the quinoa under cold water. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa with water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. After 5 minutes, add pear slices, dried cherries and cinnamon. Cover and simmer until the water in absorbed, about 5 more minutes. Serve each portion with 2 ounces of milk and 1 teaspoon of honey or agave.
To warm leftovers, add 2 ounces of milk prior to reheating. Top with honey or agave and enjoy.
Calories: 199; Fat: 2 grams; Saturated Fat: 0 grams; Protein: 7 grams; Carbohydrates: 40 grams; Cholesterol: 1.7 milligrams; Sodium: 44 milligrams; Fiber: 3.2 grams
*calculation uses pears, cherries, skim milk and honey