Healthy food, healthy heart (too much of a stretch for Valentine’s Day)…I had the yummy fun of previewing this cookbook in advance at BlogHer12, and meeting some of the Reader’s Digest team in New York. Breakfast is by far our family’s favorite meal, and it’s daily fuel we couldn’t live without. Many thanks to Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest, for sharing these great tips and some yummy “grab and go healthy breakfast recipes” for busy families. Enjoy! – Amy
Rule #1, Eat Breakfast, Eat Breakfast, Eat Breakfast! When you eat too few calories, your body slows down and hangs on to what it has- this is called homeostasis – and stores more fat as a result. Even worse is trying to cut calories by skipping breakfast. In a Korean study, people who didn’t eat breakfast ate more fat and desserts later in the day. Breakfast skippers in Minnesota experienced big drops in late-morning blood sugar, which can increase hunger. Other studies show that going without breakfast leads to increased appetite, worse food choices later in the day, poor diet quality overall, and a heightened risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Here are some simple and healthy grab-and-go breakfast recipes from The Digest Diet Cookbook.
Homemade Instant Oatmeal
Hands-On Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 6 minutes
Makes: 1 serving
Make up a whole bunch of these instant oatmeal packets to have on hand for a quick breakfast at home or at the office. The cooked oatmeal can be sweetened to taste with honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup. Start with 1 teaspoon sweetener and see if you can manage with a minimum. You can also make this in the microwave (especially helpful if you’re planning on taking this to work): Place the oatmeal mixture in a 2-cup microwave-safe bowl or mug and stir to combine. Add 1 cup water and stir well. Cook on high for 45 seconds. Stir. Cook on high for 30 seconds. Stir and let sit for 1 minute.
Oats, coconut, cinnamon
½ cup quick-cooking oats
1 tablespoon powdered coconut milk or buttermilk powder
1 tablespoon chopped dried fruit
1 tablespoon chopped nuts (optional)
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Combine all the ingredients in a sandwich bag and seal. Store in an airtight container or in the refrigerator. Label it so you know what you put in it. If making oatmeal for multiple days, mix up each portion separately to ensure that you get the right distribution of ingredients.
2. When ready to cook, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the oatmeal mixture and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 1 minute.
Per serving: 228 calories – 7g protein – 4g fat (1g saturated) – 7.5g fiber – 39mg calcium – 0mg vitamin C – 41g carbohydrate – 16mg sodium
California Breakfast Wrap
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes + cooling time
Makes: 4 wraps
Avocado oil, eggs, oregano, black pepper, cheese, avocado, limes, multigrain bread, tomatoes
You can make the egg pancake well ahead and store in the fridge. Separate the pancakes with sheets of waxed paper and cover well. You can also make up entire breakfast wraps ahead of time: Wrap them tightly in plastic and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready for them.
2 teaspoons avocado oil or extra-light olive oil
4 large eggs
8 large egg whites
1 tablespoon water
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded reduced- fat Mexican blend cheese
4 rectangular multigrain (with flax, if possible) sandwich wraps (2 ounces each)
1 Hass avocado
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
6 ounces grape tomatoes, chopped (about 1 cup)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 10 x 15-inch rimmed baking sheet (or jelly-roll pan) with waxed paper or parchment paper or use a nonstick pan. Brush the bottom and sides of the paper (or pan) with the oil.
2. Place the pan in the oven to preheat for 3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and egg whites with water. Beat well to fully incorporate the whites and yolks. Beat in the oregano, cumin, and pepper.
4. Pullout the oven rack with the pan on it and carefully pour the egg mixture into the pan, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake until the egg puffs up and is cooked through (don’t worry if there are cracks), about 15 minutes.
5. Let the egg cool in the pan. Halve the egg pancake lengthwise and then halve crosswise. Loosen the pancake around the edges and carefully remove each egg quarter.
6. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the lime juice. Spread each sandwich wrap with one-quarter of the avocado mash, top with an egg pancake, then one quarter of the chopped tomatoes (drain them if they’re too wet) and roll up the short way.
Per wrap: 348 calories – 30g protein – 18g fat (4.5g saturated) – 12g fiber – 238mg calcium – 17mg vitamin C – 24g carbohydrate – 652mg sodium
Butternut Breakfast Bread
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes + cooling time
Makes: one 9-inch loaf
This is a dense, moist, and only lightly sweetened bread. It’s brimming with beta-carotene and good fats, and it has over 4 grams of protein per slice. To make this a complete breakfast, have 2 slices (toasted, if you want) and top each with 2 tablespoons 0% Greek yogurt or 1 tablespoon fat-free cream cheese.
Almond flour, cinnamon, coconut oil, honey, eggs, butternut squash
2 cups white whole-wheat flour, spooned into the cup and then leveled
1 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
⅓ cup water
¼ cup honey, preferably dark
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
3 cups grated butternut squash (10 ounces)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with olive oil spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and blend well. Beat in the oil, water, honey, whole egg, and egg whites. Fold in the squash.
3. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.
4. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.
SAVE FOR A SNACK: After the bread is completely cooled, cut the loaf into ½-inch slices. Lay them on a tray or baking sheet and freeze solid. Once they are frozen, pack them into a large freezer storage bag. Then you can microwave or toast individual slices when you want one for breakfast.
Per ½-inch slice: 143 calories – 4g protein – 7.5g fat (4g saturated) – 3g fiber – 35mg calcium – 3mg vitamin C – 17g carbohydrate – 191mg sodium
© 2012 Liz Vaccariello, author of The Digest Diet Cookbook
Liz Vaccariello is the editor-in-chief and chief content officer of Reader’s Digest, which reaches more than 26 million readers. She is the author of The Digest Diet and The Digest Diet Cookbook and coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller Flat Belly Diet! and 400 Calorie Fix. Vaccariello regularly appears on national programs such as Good Morning America and The Doctors and has been featured on The Biggest Loser, Today, Rachel Ray, and The View. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of Prevention. She lives in New Jersey with her family.