Breakfast in 5 Minutes or Less

by Charles Platkin, PhD

A recent study published in the journal Nutrition found that medical students who didn’t eat breakfast were more likely to be fatigued. And according to the American Dietetic Association, people who miss breakfast can be more “tired, irritable and restless.”

It makes sense; not eating for eight to 10 hours can certainly make you feel that way. Your body needs to refuel. Research shows that when you eat breakfast you’re more productive and can even remember more. So what’s the problem? Believe it or not, lack of time is one of the most common reasons for not eating breakfast. Here are a few healthy meals you can create in five minutes or less that will give you the energy you need without packing on the calories.

Scrambled Egg Whites with Veggies
Use liquid egg whites. They’re a bit more expensive than buying eggs, but if you want quick, this is it. About 1/2 a cup, which equals three egg whites, has only 60 calories and 12 grams of protein. Use a 12-inch pan if you have one. The larger the heated surface, the quicker the cooking process. Coat the pan with cooking spray, heat it up and simply pour in the 1/2 cup of liquid whites. Now add a few bits of broccoli, some green and red peppers, onion, salt, pepper, and scramble. You can even have a slice of 100 percent whole-grain bread (with no sugar added) with your scrambled eggs. I like the Ezekiel 4:9 bread by Food For Life. It does have a bit of added sugar (Organic Malted Barley), but it’s low in calories and, overall, a good bread.

Shredded Wheat
I like the original spoon-size shredded wheat. All it has in it is 100 percent whole wheat; that’s it. Add some skim milk, half a banana or some other fruit and you have a quick, delicious and nutritious meal. Many people convince themselves that the cereal they’re eating is healthy, but most of the time it’s not. Most cereals have added sugar, which is something that should be avoided; you want to make sure the cereal you choose has a “clean” label, which means not a lot of added ingredients with names you can’t pronounce. A cup of shredded wheat with ½ cup of skim milk is 210 calories.

100% Whole-Grain Strawberry-Blueberry-Banana Muffins
 I’ve written about these before but thought the recipe was worth repeating. These are delicious 100 percent whole-grain muffins that are low in calories and packed with fiber, protein, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6. Once baked, the muffins should be cooled, then wrapped individually in plastic wrap and put into a sealed container. They’re perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast. Here’s what you need to make 12 muffins. It will take about 45 minutes, but once you’re done, you have 12 healthy breakfasts.

1½ cups 100% whole-grain wheat flour
½ cup 100% whole-grain rolled oats
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons skim milk
2 egg whites slightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey
1½ cups unsweetened frozen or fresh blueberries
½ cup unsweetened frozen strawberries
7 very ripe bananas
cooking spray.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, such as Pam, or line with muffin liners. Put rolled oats in a food processor and process until ground ­ about 10-20 seconds. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and combine them with the blueberries, strawberries, milk, egg whites, vanilla and honey. Stir in flour mixture. Spoon into muffin cups until they’re about ¾ full. Bake 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. One 3-ounce muffin has 174 calories along with 4 grams protein and 4.6 grams fiber.

Hard-boiled Egg Whites
Making a hard-boiled egg is pretty easy. The American Egg Board recommends making hard-cooked eggs, not hard-boiled eggs. To do this, place the eggs in a pan big enough to hold them in a single layer. Add cold water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then remove from the burner, cover the pan, and leave the eggs for about 15 minutes. Drain the water and put the eggs in a bowl of ice. Here are a few other tips: Make sure not to use fresh eggs, which are more difficult to peel. Eggs that are about a week to 10 days old are best. Hard-cooked eggs will last about a week in the fridge. They’re easy to crack and peel, quick to eat, and the whites have only 16 calories per egg. Save calories by avoiding the yolk (yellow part).

Whole-Wheat Bread, Peanut Butter and Banana
Looking for a high-energy start to your day? Spread a slice of 100 percent whole-grain toast without added sugar (60 to 80 calories) with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter made with nothing but peanuts and salt, such as Smucker’s Creamy Natural (105 calories) and top with half a banana, thinly sliced (about 60 calories). This quick breakfast is very high in energy, jammed with more than 8 grams of fiber and more than 12 grams of protein.

First of all, oatmeal is a “whole” grain, which means it contains all parts of the grain kernel: bran, endosperm and germ, as well as the health benefits. It is also higher in protein and more satiating than most other breakfast cereals. And the fiber helps to restore and stabilize blood sugar levels after a long night’s sleep so you won’t get a spike from the carbohydrates and then a quick fall soon after. Also, researchers have shown that the soluble fiber (beta-glucans) found in oatmeal may help to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease when included in a diet that is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Think it takes a long time to make? Think again. Old-fashioned oats take about five minutes to make. A cup and a half of cooked oatmeal has 225 calories. Add half a cup of frozen blueberries (only 35 calories) for an antioxidant kick. Just make sure to avoid extras like brown sugar, butter, salt, honey and whole milk.

Greek Yogurt with Fruit
Plain fat-free Greek yogurt has about 80 calories in about 5.3 ounces (Stonyfield Farm Organic Oikos Greek Yogurt, Plain) and contains just a handful of natural ingredients. Although Greek yogurt is a bit of an acquired taste if you are used to eating artificially flavored yogurt, adding sliced banana or strawberries will make it very tasty. Just one serving has a whopping 15 grams of protein. Plus, it’s got about 20 percent of your daily calcium needs.

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