5 Quick and Easy Ways to Fuel Your Day
By: Holley Grainger, RD
Fueling your body in the morning is an important habit and helps set the tone for the day.
In fact, research shows that breakfast eaters have more nutritious diets and tend to be leaner than breakfast skippers. Use your morning meal as a time to squeeze in an extra serving of foods you might not get enough of, like milk. Drinking more reduced-fat milk – and getting more milk protein, in particular – is linked to lower body fat and a healthy weight.
Many researchers and dietitians now recommend 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal (including breakfast) to help satisfy your appetite. Spreading out your protein intake throughout the day can help optimize how your body uses it. Starting the day with a nutritionally sound breakfast is key. So whether you have time to cook, sit and peacefully enjoy your meal or you need to fly out of the door with breakfast in tow, here are five tips and recipes to help get a jump-start on your day’s nutrition.
1. Plan and Prepare Ahead
Develop a system so that when faced with the morning’s “What’s for Breakfast?” question, you don’t lose valuable time trying to create a balanced meal in your coffee-deprived head. Instead, prep and store ingredients over the weekend like hearty breakfast bars, whole-wheat waffles or chopped fresh fruit. If a bowl of cereal is your go-to breakfast, set the bowl, spoon, banana, and ready-to-eat cereal box on the table, so cold milk is the only thing you need to add to the mix in the morning.
Try it at home: Breakfast Bar with a cup of milk
2. Cook Grains in Milk Versus Water
Whether making a steaming bowl of oatmeal or a warm, comforting quinoa porridge, use milk instead of water to add 9 essential nutrients including 8 grams of high-quality protein per cup to your bowl. Top your cooked grains with fresh fruit, cinnamon and nuts and serve with a glass of milk for a well-balanced breakfast meal.
Try it at home: Rise ‘N Shine Nutty Apricot Oatmeal
3. Drink Your Breakfast
No, we don’t mean coffee! If you don’t like to eat in the morning or there’s no time to sit down to a meal, then start the day with a nourishing smoothie. Smoothies are a great on-the-go breakfast choice because they’re a way to incorporate many nutritious foods in the mix. Consider options like milk, yogurt, fresh or frozen fruits (strawberries, blueberries or bananas), fresh greens (spinach or kale), whole grains (oatmeal or cereal), legumes (chia, flax, or peanut butter), or nuts (almond butter or pistachios). To save time in the morning, make individual servings of smoothies ahead of time over the weekend. Simply combine all of the dry ingredients needed for your smoothie in a zip-top plastic bag, freeze, and then add milk and yogurt with those ingredients to the blender when you’re ready to eat.
Try it at home: Mango Ginger Smoothie
4. Stash Staples Whether stashing a carton of Greek yogurt, a string cheese, and an apple in your bag before heading out the door or storing plain instant oatmeal packets, trail mix or peanut butter crackers in your desk drawer, stock up on foods that don’t require much preparation so you always have an option when you’re in a pinch.
5. Go Beyond Breakfast Basics
Take basic breakfast concepts like eggs, yogurt, waffles or toast to the next level by adding foods from two or three more food groups to maximize your morning nutrients. For example, add cheese, turkey and spinach to an omelet, granola and blueberries to yogurt, or avocado and sliced tomato to whole grain bread. The easiest way to up your protein intake at breakfast is by adding a glass of milk to any of these combinations.
Try it at home: Open-Faced Whole Wheat Waffle Sandwich served with an 8 oz glass of milk