When it comes to food, science has proved some things and disproved others. But one thing it has really nailed is that breakfast, that first meal after a long fast, really is the most important one of the day.
Recent research on the glycemic index (which lists foods from high to low in their ability to boost blood sugar levels) indicates that proteins and whole grains–two slow to digest power foods–can boost food satisfaction and energy that can last into the evening. So according to the latest knowledge, a good breakfast doesn't just see us through to lunch time. It is still keeping us from hitting that low blood sugar low around 2 or 3 pm, when high-calorie snacks are so tempting and irritability is creeping into our mood.
This is good news for school age children, teenagers and working adults because it means a well-planned breakfast can curb endless munching later in the day; keep us focused; and best of all, promote fat breakdown instead of its storage.
According to this new information, top-of-the-morning meals of whole grains, fruit or vegetables, cheese, yogurt, chicken and/or fish are the very best healthy breakfast combinations.
I like to make buckwheat and apple pancakes–lots of them–and freeze them so that I can use one or two on busy mornings. I stuff these incredible wraps with whatever I happen to have in the fridge: shredded cheese, hard-boiled egg, sliced or grated; cooked ham, cut into strips; cooked chicken, shredded; cooked chickpeas or other lentils; hummus; lettuce; chopped cooked vegetables; cooked brown rice.
For great breakfasts, make great healthy dinners and just cook extra so that you can have some the next morning. Stir-fried vegetables with chicken or fish; baked chicken in tomato sauce with wholewheat noodles; or any of the vegetable and protein dense one-dish meals in my Vegetarian Cook's Bible make nutritious choices for breakfast.
What whole grain, protein-packed breakfast combination do you favor?
Buckwheat, Apple and Cheese Breakfast Burritos an original Pat Crocker recipe
1/2 cup rolled oats or granola
1/2 cup spelt flakes*
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp organic cane sugar or brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 apple, shredded
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup rice or soymilk or low-fat milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
*spelt flakes are found in whole foods stores but if not available, use old-fashioned rolled oats instead
1. In a bowl, combine oats or granola and spelt. Stir in boiling water and let stand 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a batter bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary and salt and stir with a whisk. Add apple and nuts. Make a well in the center.
3. Stir milk, egg and 2 tablespoons of the oil into soaked grains. Pour this mixture into dry
ingredients and stir just enough to combine.
4. In a large skillet or griddle, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Spoon 1/4 cup pancake batter onto hot skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until pancake is lightly browned on bottom and bubbles appear throughout batter. Flip and cook 1 minute or until lightly browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter, re-oiling the pan as needed.
5. Serve immediately or cool and wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator for 4 days. Pancakes can be frozen individually on a baking sheet, then stored in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Suggestions for Filling
shredded cheddar, Swiss or other hard cheese
hard-boiled egg, sliced or grated
cooked ham, cut into strips
cooked chicken, cut into strips or shredded
cooked chickpeas, kidney, black or navy beans
fresh greens such as spinach, sliced cabbage, sprouts, broccoli
cooked or raw chopped vegetables or fruit
chopped Bell or hot chile peppers or fresh tomatoes
chopped fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, oregano, savory, thyme, rosemary or tarragon
chopped nuts such as walnuts, pecans, cashews
seeds such as sesame, sunflower, poppy, chia
homemade spreads like hummus or pesto
To Fill Breakfast Burritos: Distribute 2 tablespoons of cheese and about 2 tablespoons of a protein ingredient (cooked egg, ham, chicken, fish or beans) along one half-side of a buckwheat pancake. Top with 1/4 cup greens and 1/4 cup vegetables or fruit; sprinkle 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs over all. Fold pancake in half. Secure with a toothpick. Heat in the microwave or oven just until the cheese melts.