Friday, July 15, 2011

Healthy Breakfast using the MyPlate Model

Scrambled Eggs on Corn Tortillas with Avocado and Peppers

Over a month ago, a request came in from a loyal reader to do a post on what a healthy breakfast looks like.  With little fanfare and a slightly red face, I finally bring you the MyPlate breakfast!  My only excuse is that life has been busy at FoodWise Nutrition and next month (barring natural disaster or spontaneous vacations), I hope to unveil super secret project X!

Scrambled Eggs on Corn Tortillas with Avocado and Peppers (MyPlate View!)
Enough about me, on to breakfast.

The basic principle of creating a healthy breakfast is to pair a fruit and/or veggie with a protein and carbohydrate.  Choose foods you love that you know you can put together in the time you have.  Breakfasts on weekends may look very different than breakfasts during the week, and that's OK.

Bob's Red Mill GF Cereal with Strawberries and Walnuts

So, why should you eat breakfast?

Our metabolisms don't get going until we put food in our bodies.  It's the equivalent of filling up an empty gas tank: the car isn't going to move until it has something to burn!  We can all function (sort of) without breakfast, but until you actually eat, your metabolism is going to stay depressed and burn fewer calories.  That's especially bad news for weight maintenance.

Egg and Avocado on Udi's Whole Grain Bread with Apples

Why should you eat protein with breakfast?

We use protein to build our bodies, and protein (along with fat) keeps us full longer.  Have you ever noticed how quickly you get hungry if you just have a fruit smoothie for breakfast?  Eating protein also allows us to eat fewer carbohydrates.  We use carbs for energy (and you need to eat them, despite what Atkins disciples say), but eating too many carbs leads to sluggishness and weight gain.  Do you feel better if you have a breakfast of eggs and toast with fruit, or waffles with strawberries and whipped cream?

Poached Egg with Chard and Steamed Potaotes

Finally, how do you include veggies with your breakfast?

Despite popular belief, breakfast doesn't have to be made up of special breakfast foods.  You can eat your leftover dinner for breakfast.  Really!  If that doesn't sound appealing quite yet, try sauteed greens or a veggie scramble.  If I have leftover chard or kale, I often throw a poached egg on top.  Or if you're making scrambled eggs, just throw in some diced zucchini and peppers.

Poached Egg with Chard and Steamed Potaotes

You'll notice these photos are egg-heavy because I ate all the food after taking pictures, and I eat a lot of eggs!  So, what didn't I take pictures of?  Well...
  • Peanut butter on whole grain toast with fresh berries
  • Eggs scrambled with mushrooms and peppers with melon
  • Cream cheese and lox with tomatoes
  • Yogurt with granola and nuts
  • Cereal with milk, nuts and berries

Bob's Red Mill GF Cereal with Strawberries and Walnuts

It's important to note that like any other meal, breakfast requires a touch of your mental energy and a bit of preparation time.  I can prepare a poached egg with toast and fruit in about 5 minutes and that's my standard, quick breakfast.  Another trick is to prepare a big batch of breakfast food, say hot cereal, and then reheat it in the microwave.

What are you favorite breakfasts?  How do you incorporate vegetables into your first meal?
What's your breakfast challenge?


  1. Autumn, what a fantastic post! And your food photography is exquisite... I may have to use this site to show my patients :)

  2. I love potatoes for breakfast. (But not the hash-brown kind) They keep me full and going full steam ahead!

  3. I love eggs, too. I just bought a dozen that are going to be boiled for my post-run mornings. That being said, I prefer them poached. I also love to make a big batch of steel cut oats in the slow cooker and have that all week - I love to throw in almonds, fruit, cinnamon, and a touch of maple cream. Mmmmm... now I want breakfast!