Tag Archives: breakfast

Put Your Best Fork Forward!

It’s March which means it is National Nutrition Month! This year’s theme:

nationalnutritionmonth2017-2

I love the idea of putting your best fork forward. It means doing what is best for yourself, every day. Make choices that count, make you feel good, and help you become the person you want to be. Here are 3 tips for putting your best fork forward this month and any time.

1) Plan ahead. Good nutrition and health doesn’t just happen. Make a menu, write a grocery list, prep veggies ahead of time, join a gym, buy workout equipment, etc. Think through what it takes to eat and feel the way you want, then take steps to doing that. Set yourself up to succeed.

2) Move on from a set back. Did today get the better of you? Not feeling like exercising this morning? A party at work led you in the path of a bunch of sweets? It is OK. I repeat, it is OK. But move on. Don’t let one side step from your plan turn into a complete new path. Step back on track with you next choices and move on.

3) Start your day out right. Try to start you day with a good for you breakfast or exercise. A good choice first thing in the morning can really help set the tone for your day. I’ll admit, I don’t LOVE exercising. It’s work, guys! But, I do love how I feel the rest of the day when I do exercise and get myself going on the right foot.

And in that mindset, here’s a delicious smoothie I tried this morning that helped set me up for success today.

Berry-Beet Smoothie (Serves 3-4)

Berry Beet Smoothie

¼ cup orange juice
1 cup plain or vanilla fat free Greek yogurt
1 ½ cups frozen mixed berries
1 medium raw beet, peeled chopped into chunks
1 bunch beet greens, large stems removed
1 banana, frozen
Water or skim milk, as needed

1. Layer ingredients in order in a blender. Start blender on low, then gradually increase speed as needed to get smooth consistency. Leave blender on each setting at least 30 seconds. Add water or skim milk if needed to thin out the smoothie. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 158
Protein: 12 gm
Fat: 1 gm
Saturated Fat: less than 1 gm
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Carbohydrates: 28 gm
Fiber: 5 gm
Sodium: 114 mg

Recipe Notes: I just squeezed a fresh orange and pulled some of the pulp in too. Bottled orange juice would be fine. I used plain yogurt. It tasted fine to me, but the kiddos around me were a little less thrilled. The vanilla yogurt with its extra sweetness would have helped them. I just used the greens from my bunch of beets, then roasted the extra beets up for my lunch. You might not need extra liquid; it will depend on how thick your yogurt is and how strong your blender is.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Gingerbread Pancakes

Breakfast is a nutritionally important meal of the day. But I also find it to be an emotionally important meal. When I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I need a good breakfast to help me turn my day around. And it really works. No bowls of cold cereal. I need warm food that makes me feel happy. I love easy ways to make breakfast seem special, since I usually don’t have much time on those days.

These gingerbread pancakes fit that bill. If you tried my gingerbread pancakes last year, these are even better.  Lighter and more fluffy.  Still great gingerbread flavor without being overpowering.  And no sugar in the batter besides molasses!  Hooray!

Gingerbread Pancakes (Makes 10-15 pancakes)

Gingerbread Pancakes

1 large egg
1 ½ cups skim milk
5 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ⅓ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, milk, molasses, oil, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

2. Heat a griddle or non-stick pan to medium-high heat (350 if electric). Lightly spray pan with cooking spray. Pour about ¼-⅓ cup batter onto griddle for each cake. Cook until they start to bubble and bottom looks set. Flip and cook until browned.

Nutritional Information (Amount per pancake):

Calories: 110
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 16 mg
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Fiber: 2 gm
Sodium: 138 mg

Notes: I prefer white whole wheat flour, but “regular” whole wheat flour also works here. As with all pancake batters, I find the amount of liquid is a little bit tricky. You can add more milk if you need a thinner batter.

Source: Children’s Museum Denver

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Easy Granola

A year and a half ago, I visited my in-laws. My mother-in-law was on a very strict low carb diet at the time. The day before I arrived, however, she had a bit of a fall out with her diet. Now, while most of us would go for cake and cookies and ice cream, she made granola. I gave her props for at least caving for something whole grain and mostly good for you.

That story is to try and give you some indication of how good this granola is. Good enough to blow a diet for, rather than all the normal sugary stuff. And it really is pretty good for you. Granola only gets a bad rap because we tend to eat A LOT at one time, which can add up in the calorie department. But a little as a snack or on some yogurt is perfect. Enjoy some today on this beautiful first day of fall!

Easy Granola (Makes about 8 cups)

Easy Granola

5 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned are fine)
1 cup non fat powdered milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
½ cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried fruit (or more if you like)

1. Preheat oven to 300. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone liner, or spray with cooking spray.

2. Mix all the ingredients together with a rubber scraper or wooden spoon. Spread in an even layer on baking sheet.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t start to burn). Remove from oven and let it cool for 30 minutes. Break into chunks as desired. Store in an airtight container.

Nutritional information (about per ¼ cup):

Calories: 171
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: less than 1 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 94 mg

Recipe notes: I never have coconut, so I leave that out. You could sub coconut oil in for flavor, but realize that it will change the fat ratios. I like walnuts and craisins. You could use whatever dried fruit and nut combo you like. Or you could use some premixed trail mix if you have that around.

Source: my sister-in-law

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Gingerbread Pancakes

Christmas is coming. Gingerbread is an integral part of most families’ traditions, although rarely for eating. Most of us make gingerbread houses, but do we make gingerbread to eat? Not generally.

I’ve been experimenting with different gingerbreads for breakfast, and my family has been loving it. It’s such a flavor boost. I’m hooked. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Pancakes (Makes about 10 pancakes)

Gingerbread pancakes

1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (9.4 ounces)
½ tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons molasses
1 ½ cups skim milk or nonfat buttermilk

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add milk gradually, adding just until it reaches the right consistency.

2. Heat a griddle to 350 degrees or a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information (Amount per pancake):

Calories: 144
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 2 g
Saturated Fat: .5 g
Cholesterol: 38 mg
Carbohydrates: 29 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 318 mg

Recipe Notes: I find most pancake recipes underestimate the amount of liquid needed. Add milk to the consistency you like for pancakes. I prefer thin pancake batter. These pancakes are kind of “hefty” as it is, so I don’t need the batter to be thicker than necessary.

Source: adapted from Williams-Sonoma

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Pumpkin Oatmeal

I waxed so philosophical about hating recipes that only use part of a can of pumpkin. Yet, I frequently find myself making them anyway. Oops. But I’m getting more creative in ways to use up the extra pumpkin.

Pumpkin in oatmeal seems like a logical choice. You already put in brown sugar and cinnamon, which go great with pumpkin. Plus you are now putting vegetables in breakfast. That is always a win. Super fast breakfast that is good for you and delicious. Major win this time of year!

Pumpkin Oatmeal (Serves 3-4)

Pumpkin Oatmeal

2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant)
¾ – 1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups skim milk
2 cups water
cinnamon to taste (I use about ½ teaspoon)
¼-⅓ cup brown sugar

1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-7 minutes, per package instructions for your oats. Stir frequently.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 285
Protein: 10 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Carbohydrates: 56 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 62 mg

Recipe notes: This is a very flexible recipe. Use more or less pumpkin, per your taste. You could use all milk, all water, etc. As for the sugar, I usually add about ¼ cup sugar to my regular oatmeal. I found the pumpkin had a strong taste that needed a little more sugar. You might start with ¼ cup, then add teaspoons in individual bowls for each person’s taste.

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To sugar or not to sugar

When I was little, my favorite cereal was Frosted Flakes.  What was a kid not to love?  As it was also my mom’s favorite, we got to eat fairly regularly.  However, occasionally, we ran out.  And my Dad insisted that you could just sprinkle some sugar in a bowl of corn flakes and get the same result.  WRONG!

I was reminded of these morning battles when I saw a blogger say that she bought the plain shredded wheat cereal for her family then had them add sugar, rather than buy the frosted cereal.  And I babysat some children whose mother had successfully convinced them that adding honey to a bowl of regular Cheerios was the same as eating Honey Nut Cheerios.  These mothers must be more convincing than my father.

But all of this had me puzzling – is it really healthier to sprinkle sugar in a cereal than just buy the sugar version?  From my observations, people dump in at least a teaspoon of sugar when doing that.  Well, today, we are going to crunch the numbers.  For consistency sake, I am going to say that people add 1 teaspoon of sugar (or honey) to their cereal.  Also, we are going to assume that our hypothetical cereal eaters drink all the milk in the bowl.  While I personally find this disgusting, it is the only way I know to make this fair.  If you add in sugar, a lot of it dissolves into the milk.  However, have you ever looked at a frosted mini wheat after it has been in the milk awhile?  That sugar dissolves too.

Here goes:

Nutrients 50 g shredded wheat cereal + 1 teaspoon sugar 50 g frosted shredded wheat cereal 1 cup Cheerios + 1 teaspoon honey 1 cup Honey Nut Cheerios
Calories 187 175 126 140
Carbohydrates 45 42 27 30
Sugar 4 10 7 12
Fiber 7 5 3 3

(I used 50 g for the shredded wheat, since that is approximately a serving size listed on a package).

So, you really do save yourself some added sugars when you add the sugar yourself.  BUT, that does mean you have to be careful in how much you add.  A teaspoon of sugar adds 4 g of sugar.  A teaspoon of honey adds 6 g of sugar.  So, it doesn’t take much to make them about the same.  I added the fiber line because I found it slightly interesting that the frosted cereal has less fiber.  I’m assuming this is because you are getting more actual wheat cereal in 50 g of the plain cereal and adding your own sugar versus 50 g of cereal including the sugar.

So parents everywhere are justified.  Even if it doesn’t really taste the same.

Happy cereal eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Pumpkin French Toast

I know I complained about all the pumpkin recipes on the internet a couple weeks ago. And I still stand by my statement that the food world should not revolve around pumpkin in the fall, even though it does. Most of them call for only part of a can of pumpkin, which is high on my list of pet peeves. If I’m opening something perishable, I better use all of it. And at the end, I often find myself saying, “This item isn’t better because of the pumpkin.” Pumpkin cinnamon rolls, pumpkin cheesecake brownie, pumpkin snickerdoodels…meh.

Breakfast food (minus the cinnamon rolls) is the one area I make an exception for. We ate this French toast before heading out the door to a fall festival last weekend, and it totally started our day off on the right foot. Super easy and super delicious. I know it only calls for a partial can of pumpkin, which I do hate. But this is the perfect way to use up remainder pumpkin from other recipes.

Pumpkin French Toast (Makes about 13 slices)

Pumpkin French Toast

3 large eggs
¾ cup skim milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
13 slices thick-sliced whole wheat bread

1. Preheat griddle or skillet to medium to medium-high heat.

2. Combine all ingredients except bread in a shallow dish.

3. Spray griddle with cooking spray. Dip bread in mixture until lightly coated on each side, scraping off any excess. Cook on griddle for 3-4 minutes per side, until lightly browned and cooked through. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information (Amount per slice):

Calories: 130
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated Fat: less than .5 g
Cholesterol: 15 mg
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 192 mg

Recipe Notes: I used whole wheat French bread for most of mine. I didn’t have quite enough, so I used sandwich bread as well. I liked the thicker bread better, but all of it was delicious and got eaten. I served this with buttermilk syrup, which made it an extra special treat.

Source: Slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

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