7 Days, 7 Breakfasts

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Joe Wilkes

It's hard to work good nutrition into our days. We're working longer and longer hours and still trying to fit in 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, not to mention all the studies coming out that say we're not getting nearly enough sleep. The hours run out. The snooze button gets pushed. Breakfast often turns into eating last night's leftover takeout during the morning commute. Or worse, it turns into no breakfast at all.

People often skip breakfast in hopes of getting more sleep or losing more weight, but in fact, people who replace breakfast with extra sleep end up having less energy. Breakfast skippers also tend to gain more weight. They start the day with a slow metabolism then overeat at lunch because they're hungry. You're much better off trying to eat something nutritious in the morning so your brain and body rev up and you don't start the day with cravings that often get relieved by donuts in the break room. Here are seven breakfasts that you can squeeze into the busiest schedule.

Note: Some of the recipes call for eggs. You can use egg substitutes like Egg Beaters® (1/4 cup per egg), two egg whites per whole egg, or tofu, depending on the recipe and your dietary concerns. Additionally, some recipes call for whole wheat ingredients. Gluten-free versions can be substituted in every case (but no white-flour substitutes!). All nutritional information is per serving. Recipes are for one serving unless otherwise noted.

Sunday: Mom's Pancake Recipe

Like so many of my family's "secret" recipes, this one began life on the side of a package of food. In this case, it was a carton of eggs (no surprise when you see the second ingredient). But this is a pretty good way of sneaking extra protein to your kids—it'll definitely get a better reaction than a boiled egg and a scoop of cottage cheese. For the grown-ups who are watching their cholesterol, my brother came up with an alternative: substituting six egg whites and half an avocado for the six eggs. The pancakes turn out a bit green, but if you can get past that, they're quite tasty. You can top them with your favorite fresh fruit. If you can't live without maple syrup, go for grade B or grade C. Those syrups contain more of the natural minerals that are filtered out of the grade A syrup. And they're cheaper!
  • 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or 1/4 cup whole wheat and 1/4 cup barley flour)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
Blend or food-process the first six ingredients on high until smooth. Add milk slowly to reach batter consistency. Cook on a hot, nonstick griddle. Number of pancakes varies by size. Serves 6.

Preparation Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
225 13 g 1.5 g 9 g 15 g

Monday: Power Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest grains around. The Mayo Clinic even includes it in its list of the top five foods to lower your cholesterol numbers. It has a high soluble fiber content that helps reduce cholesterol and slow sugar digestion, a benefit for people living with diabetes. It also has a high insoluble fiber content, which has been linked to cancer prevention. It's a good source of protein, as well as vitamin E, zinc, manganese, magnesium, and iron, among other nutrients. While it is a little on the bland side flavor-wise, it's easy to liven it up with some healthy ingredients, including seasonal or thawed frozen berries, nuts, and flaxseed.

There are a lot of schools of thought on the best way to prepare oatmeal. Purists will choose unrolled oats, either whole or steel-cut, and cook them forever (all right, 30 to 40 minutes). Those of us who don't live on "Martha Stewart time" are more apt to select rolled or quick-cooking oats, which can cook in about 5 to 10 minutes. And those of us truly strapped for time enjoy the convenience of instant oatmeal. For this recipe, use the plain oatmeal of your choice; just choose one that doesn't include sugary flavorings like maple brown sugar, apple cinnamon, etc. We're going to flavor it ourselves with high-antioxidant blueberries and heart-healthy fats from walnuts and flaxseed. For extra protein, add half a scoop of Beachbody's Whey Protein Powder.
  • 1 cup prepared oatmeal (see above)
  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Mix all ingredients in a bowl (or a to-go cup).

Preparation Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving; without Whey Protein Powder):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
436 12 g 10 g 48 g 26 g
Nutritional Information (per serving; with Whey Protein Powder):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
491 21 g 11 g 50 g 27 g

Tuesday: Carl's Chocolate Almond Shakeology®

I was able to get my hands on Beachbody® CEO Carl Daikeler's favorite Shakeology recipe. And anyone who's been fortunate enough to spend time in the company of our energetic boss will join me in saying, "I'll have what he's having." For harder-to-find ingredients like almond butter or almond milk, you could substitute peanut butter or soy, rice, or skim milk. For harder-to-stomach ingredients like the raw egg, you could use protein powder.
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp. almond butter
  • 1 whole banana
  • 1 whole egg, raw
  • 1 scoop chocolate Shakeology
  • 1 scoop Shakeology Boost: The Fiber
  • 1 cup ice
Mix all ingredients in a blender until creamy.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
443 27 g 13 g 62 g 12 g

Wednesday: Healthy Breakfast Burrito

Going to college in Southern California, I gained a lot of sustenance from burritos of all kinds. I also gained a lot of weight. Stuffed full of cheese, fried potatoes, and larded-up refried beans, the breakfast burritos were delicious and filling to a fault. But breakfast burritos don't have to be unhealthy. Fillings like veggies and eggs that are often crowded out by the cheaper and fattier ingredients can be elevated to star status in the dish. You'll create a quick, healthy breakfast that can be eaten on the move (although the police department would discourage trying to eat while driving).

By the way, here's a tip for easy-peasy scrambled eggs or egg substitutes I learned from a "restaurant" in our last office building that prepared a wide variety of hot dishes using only a microwave. Scramble an egg in a coffee cup or small microwave-safe bowl. Depending on your wattage, nuke it for 30 seconds to a minute, and voilà, scrambled eggs perfect for a sandwich or a burrito.
  • 1 scrambled egg or egg substitute (or tofu)
  • 1 6-inch whole-grain tortilla
  • 2 Tbsp. black beans, canned
  • 2 Tbsp. low-fat cheddar cheese (or soy cheese)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped tomato
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped onion
  • Hot sauce to taste
What follows are the microwave directions. You could alternatively scramble the egg and heat the beans in a small frying pan.

Microwave scrambled egg or egg substitute until cooked. While egg is cooking, spread out cooked tortilla on a dinner plate or cutting board. Spread cooked egg in the middle of one half of the tortilla. Heat the beans in the microwave (not too much or they'll explode!). While beans are heating, sprinkle cheese on eggs, then pile on beans, tomatoes, and onions (if you don't have time to chop fresh veggies, a healthy salsa could be substituted). Add hot sauce if desired. Fold tortilla in half over the ingredients and fold in the sides. (This part may take some practice. My first burrito-folding attempts usually resulted in a dish I called burrito salad, but I eventually got the hang of it.)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes (or more, depending on your tortilla-folding skills)

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
304 20 g 6 g 35 g 10 g

Thursday: Fruit Parfait

The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that most people should have at least NINE half-cup servings of fruits and vegetables per day. So you can see that if you skip breakfast, you're really putting the pressure on the rest of your meals. A diet high in fruits and veggies lowers the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, cancer, and blood sugar problems, as well as offering many other health benefits. This recipe layers yogurt with three different types of fresh fruit. You can substitute any other fruit (preferably in season) for one of the fruits in this recipe. (For anyone thinking of hitting the drive-thru at McDonald's® for its version of this recipe, you could do worse in an emergency, but this is way healthier.)
  • 1-1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt (or soy yogurt)
  • 1 Tbsp. almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseed, ground
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup cantaloupe, diced
In a tall glass, layer ingredients in the following order: 1/2 cup yogurt, followed by a sprinkle of almonds, flaxseed, and blueberries; repeat process with apples and cantaloupe (or whatever order of fruit you choose). If presentation isn't that important to you, you could just mix it all up in a bowl and eat it. (I live alone. No one's watching.)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes (more or less depending on what needs chopping)

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
453 27 g 9 g 57 g 16 g

Friday: Tuna Salad Surprise

Have you ever noticed that some mornings the cat has a healthier breakfast than you do? Tuna's not just for lunch anymore. In fact, when we have our big healthy employee breakfast at Beachbody, a big bowl of this tuna recipe is usually the star of the buffet. Tuna is really high in protein and a great source of vitamin D and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. You could mix it up by substituting canned salmon once in a while. This recipe replaces fattening mayonnaise with healthy veggies and lemon juice for a refreshing, high-energy breakfast (although we might suggest an after-breakfast mint).
  • 5 oz. canned tuna in water (if in oil, skip olive oil)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley and/or cilantro (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Raw jalapeño (if desired)
Mix first four ingredients in a bowl and season to taste. Chop in some raw jalapeño for extra zip!

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
356 43 g 2 g 12 g 15 g

Saturday: Vegetable Frittata

Since it's the weekend, it might be nice to make something you don't have to eat in the car. Frittatas are like omelets for the oven. All the flavor, but you don't have to try to flip it on the stove top (or onto the floor, as the case may be.) It's a crowd-pleaser! Feel free to experiment with other favorite veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, etc.
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, torn
  • 1 tsp. garlic, crushed
  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup low-fat Swiss cheese (or soy cheese), shredded
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese (or soy cheese), grated
  • Cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray an 8-inch pie pan or baking dish with cooking spray. Beat the eggs in a bowl, then mix in all ingredients. Pour into the pan. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the eggs are firm. Cut into 2 servings (like an omelet!).

Preparation Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving; 1/2 frittata):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
414 33 g 4 g 14 g 23 g

Of course, you should feel free to eat any of these breakfasts on any day of the week. And repeat your favorites. Most of these can be integrated into your favorite Beachbody meal plan. Come back for part two of our five-part series, and get recipes for 7 Days, 7 Lunches. Bon appétit!