Feature Archive

Quick Breakfasts for Busy Families

Our dietitian offers tips and recipes for great breakfasts on the go.

By ElaineMagee,MPH, RD
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By CynthiaHaines,MD, MD on Thursday, October 21, 2004

Skipping breakfast is like starting on a long road trip with your fuel gauge almost on empty. You're bound to run out of gas halfway through your busy morning.

Yet as many as 37% of young adults do skip breakfast, according to one survey. Often for the wrong reasons: We're too busy. We're trying to watch our weight. We don't have time to make toast, much less eggs and bacon.

The truth is: breakfast is key to health and weight management. Eating a good breakfast actually helps you eat fewer calories over the course of the day, according to recent studies in the Journal of Nutrition and in Environmental Nutrition. The right breakfast foods -- those high in fiber and protein -- keep your energy up throughout the morning and stave off hunger for hours. The wrong foods -- sugary refined cereals and white breads -- may make you eat more for lunch than normal.

Plus, breakfast serves up a good dose of key nutrients you and your children need: Calcium and potassium from milk; vitamin C, folate, and fiber from oranges or orange juice; and, fiber, folate, and iron from whole grains and fruits.

So do yourself and your children a favor. No matter how hectic your mornings, take just five minutes for a fast breakfast. To help you get started, here are my golden rules for busy breakfasts. Below the golden rules you'll find three fun recipes your family will enjoy.

5 Golden Rules for Busy Breakfasts

1. Go for 5 Grams of Fiber (or More)

Children eating the typical American diet are simply not getting enough fiber. At age 5, children should get at least 10 grams of fiber each day. By age 10, they should get 15 grams, and teenagers should get 20 grams. After age 20, you should get 25 to 35 grams a day. Choose whole grains and fruits with your breakfast to get fiber -- two slices of whole wheat bread provide 6 grams of fiber; 1 cup of fresh berries or 1 cup of raisin bran provides 5 grams or more.

2. Try Breakfast-Friendly Fruits

Fruits not only provide fiber but also important vitamins and minerals. Try one of these as you're rushing out the door.

4 prunes = 3.1 grams fiber 1 cup orange segments = 3.4 grams fiber 1 cup applesauce, unsweetened = 3 grams fiber 1 cup sliced peaches = 3.1 grams fiber 1 cup banana slices = 3.1 grams fiber 1 large apple = 4.2 grams fiber 1 pear = 4 grams fiber 1 cup berries = 5 grams fiber 1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries = 3.1 grams fiber

3. Aim for 5 Grams of Protein

Protein helps fill you up and staves off hunger longer. You can find protein in plenty of fast-breakfast products: Cereals, breakfast bars, and instant shakes. Just check the label to make sure it contains enough protein and not too much sugar. You can easily add 5 grams of protein to your homemade breakfast. Just add 1/4 cup of pasteurized egg substitute to the blender when you make a smoothie. Or pour 1/2 cup of low-fat milk into your cereal. Use whole milk in cereal for children under age 2.

4. Avoid High-Sugar and High-Fat Choices

From toaster pastries to frozen entrees, many breakfast products marketed to busy parents are loaded with sugar or fat -- and sometimes both! Check the food labels carefully before you buy. Look at the grams of fat and grams of sugar per serving. If it's loaded with sugar and fat, it's not really breakfast. It's junk food. You can do better.

Even super-moms buy convenient breakfast products for their families sometimes. Often it's the only way to juggle the morning. So find products you like, keeping these four goals in mind: high fiber, a little protein, low sugar, and low fat. Then buy a boxful and keep them handy at home and at work for those extra busy mornings.

5. Microwave It

On leisurely weekend mornings, have fun making some whole-wheat waffles, blueberry pancakes, muffins, or French toast. Freeze them in plastic bags. Then just pop a serving into the microwave on weekday mornings.

3 Delicious Breakfasts for Busy Families

Deluxe Microwave Oatmeal (1 serving)

Ingredients: 1 packet instant microwave oatmeal (vanilla or maple flavors work well) 1/3 cup finely chopped fruit (peaches, strawberries, apples, etc.) or 2 tablespoons dried fruit (raisins, dried cherries) 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts (optional) 1/2 cup soy milk or low-fat milk *



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