Food for Thought: Don’t be a ‘breakfast skipper’

By Nancy Schuster, Frontier District Extension Agent

Mornings can be a frantic rush to get ready for school or work. As time quickly goes by, breakfast can be forgotten or neglected. Getting a balanced start in the morning prepares all of us to finish the day strong.

foodforthoughtMorning meals have some health ramifications, as our bodies need refueling after a 6-7 hour sleep. Breakfast provides the glucose that is the primary energy source for the brain and body.

Gail Frank, of the American Dietetic Association, said, “Breakfast skippers often feel tired, restless or irritable in the morning.”

The brain’s functions are very sensitive to changing glucose levels. Research has shown that skipping breakfast diminishes the mental performance of children, young adults and the elderly.

A good breakfast can be hot or cold. Sugary foods (fruit, candy, soft drinks) cause a quick rise in blood sugar and a surge in energy followed by hunger symptoms about an hour later. A breakfast with a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, provides a sustained release of energy – maintaining blood sugar levels and postponing hunger symptoms for several hours.

Components of a good breakfast:

  • Sensible amount of protein food (low fat milk, yogurt, cheese, or peanut butter).
  • Food containing complex carbohydrates (whole-grain cereal, bread, or muffin).
  • Good source of vitamin C (orange, grapefruit, strawberries).
  • Small amount of good fat (more monounsaturated fat less saturated fat margarine) to keep you feeling full longer.

Get creative with breakfast. Breakfast does not have to be cereal. Start your day with some low fat milk, glass of fruit juice and one of these leftover foods from last night – slice of pizza, burrito, taco, hamburger or cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato, spaghetti with sauce, macaroni and cheese, a stuffed baked potato, or soup. Use last night’s leftover rice with some low fat yogurt and combine with dried fruits, nuts and cinnamon.

A favorite sandwich is also a great choice (chicken or turkey, grilled cheese, or peanut butter and jelly). Make pancakes with chopped fruit (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas, apples, etc.) A great choice is French toast with cinnamon or nutmeg added to the batter.

Here are some “mix” and “match” breakfast ideas: Make a pancake roll-up with turkey sausage and string cheese in a pancake. Try a peanut butter and banana dog in a toasted hot dog bun. A breakfast pita can be made with cheese melted on a slice of French toast with shaved ham. Hawaiian breakfast pizza can be made on a toasted English muffin with melted cheese, sauce, lean ham and pineapple.

Quick breakfasts can be simple also. With a glass of milk, add one of the following suggestions: Tomato soup made with milk and crackers, cottage cheese with fruit, bran muffins with a banana, whole grain bagel with baby carrots, whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese and orange slices, bagel with melted cheese and apple slices, tuna on toast with tomato or orange juice, and raisin toast with peanut butter and bananas.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be cold cereal anymore! You can be creative with your breakfast meal choices. is home to some great recipes for breakfast and hints on breakfast meal plans. Find recipes here:

schustersmNancy Schuster is a Frontier Extension District family and consumer science agent whose responsibilities include providing information about food safety, nutrition, food science and food preparation. She is based in the Garnett office of the Frontier Extension District and can be reached at 785-448-6826 or email [email protected].

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