Tips for finding the best breakfast for a healthy start to your day

Believe it or not, a simple breakfast of high fiber cereal paired with protein-rich milk or fortified soy beverage fills the bill. Dreamstime/TNS

Q: “We read your column in our local paper and are wondering if you could give us suggestions for the best breakfast that has protein, fiber, tastes good(!) and is fairly quick/easy to prepare. Kashi isn’t doing it for us! Any ideas are most appreciated!”

A: Glad to! In fact, we’d all be smart to seek healthful options to “break our fast.” According to the latest research, many Americans lack adequate amounts of dietary fiber, as well as calcium, potassium and vitamin D in our diets. Protein at each meal also helps build and maintain muscle mass and immune function. All it takes is a bit of planning.

Here are some tips from the professionals at Food & Nutrition magazine, a publication of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Many of us, especially kids and teens, need more of the nutrients contained in fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy foods including protein and dietary fiber. Believe it or not, a simple breakfast of high fiber cereal paired with protein-rich milk or fortified soy beverage fills the bill. Even better, throw some fresh, frozen or dried fruit on top.

Soak grain mixtures overnight for an instant and nourishing breakfast. Mix quick barley with milk, yogurt or 100% fruit juice and place in the fridge overnight for a chewy, nutty and fast breakfast the next morning. If you prefer savory rather than sweet, mix dry oats, plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil and a shake of kosher salt and crushed red pepper (really) and refrigerate until morning.

Got leftovers? Combine cooked brown rice, quinoa or farro with a sweet or savory liquid (maybe vanilla soy milk or chicken broth?). Then top with dried fruit and nuts (for sweet) or leftover cooked vegetables (for savory) and refrigerate overnight. I am told the savory variety pairs well with salsa.

Have you tried mashed avocado smeared on whole grain toast? Top it with a cooked egg for more protein.

Or create this egg scrambler in a microwave-safe mug or a large canning jar. Coat the inside of your mug with cooking spray, add 1 or 2 eggs and whisk with a tablespoon or 2 of milk or water. Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped vegetables (mushrooms and spinach work well). Cover and microwave on high about 30 seconds. Stir and microwave a minute or so more until eggs are firm. I appreciate the fast clean-up with this one.

Lastly, say these experts, don’t forget beans are for breakfast, too. The only food that counts as a protein as well as a vegetable, beans are loaded with protein and dietary fiber as well as calcium and potassium. Hummus — a creamy paste made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas) — is one example: Spread it on whole grain toast or crackers or cut up vegetables for a quick and nutrient-dense breakfast.

I got some new ideas myself! Thanks for writing.

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