Spinach for Breakfast

Let’s talk about breakfast. Why is it sooo many of you don’t eat breakfast!? I guess I can’t relate because hunger comes simultaneously with waking up for me. But still, after all the excessive research (good luck with the thousands of articles there), people still struggle.

{Key high lights of the research include:}

breakfast jump starts your metabolism

breakfast increases focus and concentration at work and school

breakfast can promote good blood sugar control

breakfast is associated with fewer calories consumed over the day

breakfast can add more energy throughout the day

breakfast can control excessive hunger, etc

It’s not really news that when you skip breakfast or wait until the afternoon to eat, you will likely over-eat to compensate for the missed meal. Breakfasts skippers or two-meals-a-day-ers almost always eat more for lunch and dinner or from the handful of snacks in between then they would have otherwise if they just ate a good breakfast.

But let’s talk about the quality of breakfast as well. Say you are in a hurry to get to work, and low and behold sitting right on your counter in front of you is some left over lemon cake from the night before. So you crab a slice and chug down some o.j. (at least you were thinking of Vitamin C). By about 10-10:30 you start to feel a little sluggish. You’re even starting to feel hungry and some unknown gravitational force is pulling you towards the vending machine. The problem here is, although you ate breakfast and got a pretty good amount of calories down, the nutrients in your breakfast = straight sugar. Sugar or simple carbohydrates digest in your body very quickly and leave your stomach empty and feeling hungry in about 2 hours. Typically, when eating a healthy balanced diet, we should feel satiated for around 4 hours post meal. Feeling hungry so soon will cause snacking and/or starving and then binging at lunch.

So what’s a healthy breakfast? Anything that has some complex carbs -which take longer to digest because of the ridiculously long carbon chains- or protein and fat which slow gastric emptying and digestion. It also doesn’t hurt to get some fruits or veggies (yes I said veggies) in at breakfast because if you need >5 servings a day, you better start packing them in! What I really encourage people to do though, is get protein in first thing in the morning. It’s the only way I ever make it to lunch time without collapsing in hunger.

Breakfast ideas:

  1. Scrambled eggs– Although I am not a huge egg fan and this sounds boring, I have found this to be the golden breakfast. For one you get the good protein, but also it’s the best way to use up your left over produce! Throw in some spinach or leefy greens, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, peppers, potatoes, you name it. Scramble it all up with a little cheese and s&p and you have a healthy recycled breakfast!
  2. Green smoothies- I am all about this trend. No you do not need a Vitamix or crazy expensive utility, I use my $30 hand-me-down Oster blender. Throw in any leafy greens you have (expect maybe not ice berg lettuce…) some milk or juice, berries, bananas, oranges, some greek yogurt or protein powder, some peanut butter, some flax, etc and blend a delicious breakfast together.
  3. Oatmeal– high fiber= feeling full for a while! Add berries, milk, and nuts to add some extra something something. Instead of brown sugar try some agave, a little goes a long way.
  4. Left Overs- This isn’t a joke. When you are in a hurry, why not have left over salad or soup for breakfast? I have even had cold chicken breast and potatoes (something about not reheating it makes it seem more breakfasty). Try it sometime- I dare you.
  5. Greek yogurt and fruit- there are a million varieties on the grocery store shelves these days. Greek yogurt provides more than double the protein content as your regular yogurt. This stuff is designed to keep you full and focused. And definitely satisfied because it’s delicious!
  6. Protein bars- this is my go to when I am in a hurry. Take one on the road or snack on it throughout the morning. My favs are Cliff bars, Balance Bars, and Think Thin bars.
  7. Breakfast salad– a little combination of all the above. Combine fruit (apples are a really good one to have for this), some nuts, some sprouts, and a dollop or two of greek yogurt to make a fruit salad of sorts.

Now that you have some recipes to get you through the week, go out and do it! IMG_2933** cut down the time it takes to prepare your green smoothie- chop up all the ingredients before in individual baggies, freeze, and add to the blender with milk and juice and you’re on your way!

IMG_2934I am pretty serious about my protein bars!

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More Matters

Well here we are, March 31st. The last day of National Nutrition Month 😦 It’s been real fun. The last topic we must cover today is the most important of all. Last the best of all the game right?

FRUITS & VEGETABLES

The message here is really getting more. There is no limit to how many fruits and vegetables we can have each day. Having too much of a good thing… does not apply here. So eat up!

The message here is short and sweet. As much as we want to eat more fruits and veggies each day, it doesn’t always happen. So the best thing I can do is provide fun recipes. Check under recipes for some awesome ideas for getting more vegetables each day (compliments of USU Viva Vegetables Recipes) . Some tips for purchasing and consuming fruits & veggies:

  • Luckily it’s spring time which means a good 6 months of fresh harvest is here! During the summer and early fall shop Farmer’s Markets for local, farm fresh, fruits and veggies for a great price! I love this market!
  • During the produce “off” season don’t be afraid to buy frozen or even canned veggies and fruits. You will save yourself some good money. And the good news is the produce found in your frozen selection was picked at the peak ripeness and frozen so all the nutrients are retained. Frozen produce doesn’t usually have added sugars or preservatives, so it’s as close as you can get to the fresh stuff, so no excuses people! When buying canned veggies and fruits look for brands with low- sodium or that aren’t packed in syrups.
  • Try to make half your daily selection dark green leafys. Kale, spinach, romaine, chard, collard greens, etc. Sorry iceberg doesn’t count. It takes work to eat these guys sometimes, so consider a green smoothie! I can’t push these enough. Trust me, it feels great to have all your daily greens down in one swig!
  • When you buy produce like carrots, snap peas, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, or other veggies you like to snack on raw, come straight home and wash, cut, and portion into snack bags to have on hand so it is easy to grab them when you get the munchies!
  • When it comes to shopping organic, check out the Environmental Workers Group’s dirty dozen. This is a list of the 12 “dirtiest” (aka most heavily coated in pesticides) produce items. These are foods I would recommend getting organically. I would recommend checking out that webpage more. There’s great info and things to think about…
  • Last tip, check out some recipes! Happy eating!

Butternut Squash

Someone once asked me what my favorite vegetables are.

Easy, kale, green beans, and butternut squash. Butternut squash is so divine. It is a powerhouse of nutrients and antioxidants. And the orange color? Caratenoids. The same antioxidant pigmentation that is found in carrots and pumpkins, so you could say butternut squash can support healthy vision.

However as healthy as this veggie is, prepping the cement-like gourd is no easy task and has even the most skilled cooks ready to rip their hair out. Lucky for you, I am here to offer some tips to handle this bad boy.

  • First, peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler, like you would potatoes or carrots
  • Second, halve the squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds
  • Next, nook it in the microwave in one minute increments until soft enough to cut
  • Once the squash is cooled, chop and cube!

Now you have pretty little cubes to add to your favorite recipes. Check out some of my favorites here:

Butternut squash, kale, and gnocchi

Butternut Squash Bisque

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Salad

Or you can just halve it (skip the peeling if you want) oil up some tin foil and line a baking sheet, and plop the halves right on. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-1 hour. Sprinkle your favorite spices (I like cinnamon and butter) and enjoy as a side. Yum yum!