I would be thrilled if drinking coffee was proven to be the most nutritious way to start the day. Unfortunately for me and all the other caffeine addicts out there, it's not. Besides, I'm not just cooking for myself in the morning -- I'm cooking for my family. Just serving coffee won't cut it.
And here's why: Numerous studies show that eating a complete breakfast improves kids' academic and behavioral performance as well as their school attendance rate. The end result? Your family needs a tasty, filling breakfast that provides them with energy for the whole morning -- and gives you the satisfaction of knowing you fed them well. Here are some tips for getting your day started right.
Be a smoothie. One of the fastest (and yummiest) ways to get fruit, protein, and calcium into your family is with smoothies. I like to use frozen organic berries when fresh ones aren't in season -- they have more flavor and vitamins than out-of-season berries. And frozen bananas add a rich, creamy texture.
Add healthy ingredients. Adding healthy ingredients to standard breakfast fare can boost the nutritional level considerably. Try adding ricotta cheese and whole-grain flour to pancakes, for instance, to create more protein, calcium, and fiber per serving.
Get creative. Think of creative ways to substitute healthy ingredients for not-so-healthy ones (like fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates). For example, I like to make a hippie version of eggs Benedict by using a whole-grain English muffin and baby spinach, and replacing the sinful Hollandaise sauce with the runny yolk of the egg itself. The kids think it tastes great, and I like the nutrition they're getting in every bite. Everyone wins.
Healthy Recipe: Guiltless French Toast
Makes 4 servings (one slice per person)
8 large egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup orange juice (or juice from two oranges)
1 tsp cinnamon
4 slices whole wheat bread (with no corn syrup or hydrogenated oil)
4 pats butter
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 cup fresh blueberries
1. Mix egg whites, vanilla, orange juice, and cinnamon together in
a shallow dish.
2. Soak the bread until it has absorbed most of the liquid. Heat a pan or griddle and add butter.
3. Put bread in pan and pour remaining egg batter onto bread. Cook a few minutes, then flip.
4. Toast is done when both sides are golden. Top with fresh berries and maple syrup.
Per serving: 200 calories, 11 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 11 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 13 g sugar, and 272 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 23%.