As you sleep, you use energy to power your brain, keep your heart pumping, and build and repair your muscles. When you wake up, you need an infusion of energy to jumpstart a successful day. If you wait until lunch, the damage is done - you feel sluggish, tired, and unfocused. That is why breakfast is so important.
Breakfast is the first nutrition opportunity of the day -- a chance to get some of those important foods that may be lacking in our diets, like dairy foods, fruits, and whole grains. These foods pack a nutritional punch of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, and research shows that breakfast-skippers may not make up these nutrients later in the day.
For example, milk is the number one source of calcium and potassium in the American diet, and many of us fall short on these nutrients that are so important for bone and heart health. Choosing milk at breakfast -- whether in a glass, on cereal, or mixed in a smoothie -- is an easy way to get in one of your three daily dairy servings. Pair your favorite milk with fresh fruit or whole grain cereal for a balanced, healthy start to your day.
Remember that breakfast is important for everyone -- moms, dads, kids, and teens -- and there are many options out there for busy families. Sitting down to cereal and milk, mixing up a yogurt and fruit smoothie for the commute, or dropping the kids off a few minutes early for school breakfast are great ways to ensure that everyone gets a healthy start to their day. Small adjustments to the evening routine, such as setting the table with cereal bowls and spoons or preparing the smoothie ingredients ahead of time, can make the mornings go more smoothly. Waking up just 15 minutes earlier can allow time for everyone to eat -- at home or school.
Visit www.thebreakfastproject.com for tips and recipes and to find out why "every good day starts with milk." If your child's school serves breakfast, consider celebrating National School Breakfast Week -- March 5th through 9th -- by taking advantage of this healthy, easy option. And visit www.stldairycouncil.org to learn about funding opportunities to help schools revamp their breakfast programs. What's most important is that you make breakfast a habit for yourself and your family. Here are some quick and healthy recipes to help you make the most of your mornings:
Banana Breakfast Smoothie
Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 60 min
Cook Time: 15 min
1 large fully-ripened banana, peeled and sliced
1 cup puffed rice cereal
3/4 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a single layer on a plate, freeze the banana slices for at least 1 hour (or overnight). Add the frozen banana, cereal, milk, yogurt, honey and vanilla to a blender container. Cover and puree until smooth. Pour into 2 chilled glasses.
Note: Freeze any leftover smoothie in popsicle molds for frozen treats anytime.
Total Fat: 1 g
Calcium: 20% Daily Value
Protein: 8 g
Cheesy Egg Scrambler
Yield: 1 Serving
Prep Time: 3 min
Cook Time: 3 min
1/2 whole-wheat pita bread
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat mild Cheddar cheese
Toast pita; set aside. Spray small skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat 20 to 30 seconds. Scramble egg whites and cheese in preheated skillet until egg whites are set and cheese is melted. Fill pita pocket with eggs and cheese; serve.
Tip: Kick up the flavor with zesty Jalapeņo or Monterey Jack cheese or add chopped mushrooms, onions or green peppers to egg whites before scrambling.
Total Fat: 6 g
Calcium: 20% Daily Value
Protein: 16 g
For more information on breakfast and dairy, contact Kelly Maher, Nutrition Educator, St. Louis District Dairy Council, call (314) 835-9668, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.stldairycouncil.org.