Brain-Power Breakfasts

Jump-Start the Day With Morning Meals Made Easy!

by Kirsten Harrington


On top of fitting in a trip to the gym, sending that last-minute email, rounding up homework, packing lunches and finding shoes that match, eating a healthy breakfast can be a challenge for everyone. However, eating smartly in the morning helps adults and kids concentrate better and resist the urge to reach for energy drinks and sugary treats later in the day.

The following are a few tips that will help you and your family fuel up for a long day:

Plan Ahead

Stocking your kitchen in advance makes it easier to grab something healthy. Bake a batch of whole wheat muffins or pancakes and freeze them, make your own trail mix and portion it into single servings, or freeze smoothies in mason jars that can be defrosted the night before. Overnight oatmeal is a favorite at my house. Mix 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup milk or yogurt in a mason jar, and stir in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup of berries or sliced bananas. Cover and let the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. You can add a drizzle of agave nectar for sweetness and try 1 teaspoon of chia seeds (the night before) for a creamy texture. Experiment with coconut or almond milk, add crunchy toppings, pumpkin puree or applesauce to find your favorite combination.

Think Savory

Ditch the sugary cereal box (and mid-morning crash), and grab a quick savory meal with last night’s pasta; leftover chicken wrapped in a tortilla; or a grilled cheese, egg and ham breakfast sandwich. Add nuts, cheese or steamed broccoli to oatmeal, or slather whole wheat toast with avocado, olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. From breakfast tacos to bagels and lox, you may find that something savory is easier to stomach in the morning.

Breakfast Bowls

Nutrient-rich and fun to eat, breakfast bowls start with a base (cooked rice, quinoa, black beans, steamed sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, oatmeal), and then toppings like fresh fruit, steamed veggies, herbs, nuts, chia seeds, eggs, salsa and/or granola are added. Just use your imagination! Try cooked quinoa topped with black beans, a scrambled egg, sliced avocado and salsa, or vanilla yogurt with sliced kiwi, mango, berries and a sprinkle of cocoa powder.

Make It Quick

Unless you are an early riser, breakfast is not the time to try out a new recipe or bake a fussy soufflé. For tasty, fast fuel make the little ones a “banana dog” with peanut butter, banana slices and raisins on a whole wheat hot dog bun. Whip up a quick smoothie with some nut butter or protein powder, or spread a whole grain tortilla with low-fat flavored cream cheese and sliced fruit. Mix some applesauce into a cup of cottage cheese and sprinkle with granola for an easy, protein-packed meal. For eggs in an instant, scramble two eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of milk in a 12-ounce coffee mug (or other microwave safe dish) and microwave for 45 seconds. Stir, and then microwave 30-45 seconds more until eggs are set.

Quinoa Zucchini Quiche

Quinoa zucchini quiche is a brain-power breakfast that packs a protein punch.

These protein-packed individual quiches can be made the day before and quickly warmed in the microwave.

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated zucchini, excess water squeezed out
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Prepare quinoa according to directions on package. Cool slightly, and mix with remaining ingredients. Grease muffin tin with cooking spray and fill with mixture, topping each with a little cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until quiche is set. Makes 8-10.

Microwaved Oat Berry Muffins

Ingredients:
1 egg
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 tablespoon berries
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Dash of cinnamon

Directions:
Mix together egg, berries and oats, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Microwave for one minute or until set and firm to the touch. ♥

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