By Julie Bean
Mornings can be hectic, but sacrificing nutrition for convenience can lead to a whole day of unhealthy eating. "The breakfast you choose can really set the pace for meals you'll eat for the rest your day," says Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Prepare yourself to start the day off right and you'll be more likely to have more energy and think more clearly."
The key to ensuring you have a healthy and stress-free start to your day is thinking ahead. "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail," says Thayer. She insists that breakfast doesn't have to be hard: Simply having the right foods on hand will encourage you to make smart choices.
Here, Thayer shares her favorite five fast and easy breakfast recipes adapted from the Heart Smart program at the Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute. Anyone can make these in a jiffy; just prep, grab and go.
Smart Start: Prep this breakfast before you go to bed, and store in a blender jar in the fridge. When morning rolls around, all you need to do is blend and go.
Makes 4 servings
1 cup of strawberries (frozen or fresh)
1 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons skim milk
2 tablespoons honey
Combine in a blender until smooth. Pour into four glasses and serve.
Smart Start: Get ahead of the game by making four days' worth of breakfast at once. Hold off on the crunchy granola topping until you're ready to eat this one so it will stay fresh.
Makes 4 servings
1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
1 cup fresh fruit, diced
1/2 cup low-fat granola
1. Layer yogurt and cut fruit in alternating layers in a glass. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.
2. Top with granola before serving.
Breakfast Banana Split
Smart Start: Break out of a breakfast rut and think outside of the box with your choices. This banana split isn't topped with ice cream, but it will still be an unexpected (and healthy) treat.
Makes 1 serving
1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup whole grain cereal
1. Peel and cut the banana lengthwise.
2. Place the split banana on a plate and top with 1/2 cup of low-fat yogurt. Top with the cereal.
Cereal Yogurt Bars
Smart Start: Make these bars over the weekend so they're ready to go on busy weekday mornings. Pair one with a piece of fresh fruit for a fast, easy and well-rounded breakfast.
Makes 9 servings
1 1/2 cups whole grain cereal
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon flour, divided
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon tub margarine
1 tablespoon low-fat buttermilk
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute, slightly beaten
3/4 cup unsweetened, sliced peaches, drained
3/4 cup low-fat granola
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a small bowl, combine whole grain cereal, 1/3 cup flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.
3. Cut in margarine and buttermilk until coarse crumbs form.
4. Press crumb mixture firmly in bottom of an 8-inch square pan that has been coated with cooking spray.
5. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, granulated sugar, egg substitute and 1 tablespoon flour. Mix with a wire whisk until blended.
6. Pour yogurt mixture over crust.
7. Top with sliced peaches, then sprinkle with low-fat granola.
8. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into bars once cool.
Oatmeal Raisin Minimuffins
Smart Start: Store-bought muffins are loaded with more fat and sugar than most people realize. Make this healthy homemade version handy instead. Pair with 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt for a complete meal.
Makes 8 servings
Nonstick cooking spray with flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Coat a 24-count minimuffin tin with nonstick cooking spray and then flour.
3. In a large bowl, combine raisins, flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, canola oil and vanilla.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
6. Using a tablespoon, divide the batter among the prepared muffin molds.
7. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the muffin comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
Julie Bean is a writer and editor based in New York City. She has covered health, nutrition, technology and lifestyle topics for numerous publications, including Every Day With Rachael Ray, Weight Watchers and Time Out New York Kids.
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