Prairie Fare: Conquer the Midmorning Slump with Breakfast
By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist
NDSU Extension Service
Have you ever been in a morning meeting and your stomach’s gurgling interrupts the speaker? Maybe your stomach wants to add an agenda item: Snack break.
Recently, I was in a meeting with a “stomach interruption.” Fortunately, it wasn’t mine because that’s a bit embarrassing.
I have learned that I need to have some protein in the morning or my stomach will protest the lack of long-lasting energy by midmorning. I usually grab a snack before those 10 a.m. meetings.
With schools back in session, we see a lot of reminders about children and breakfast. We adults also should pay attention to breakfast consumption. Eating a balanced breakfast has many benefits for adults and children.
In their study of women ages 18 to 55, University of Missouri researchers reported that high-protein breakfasts help adult women feel full longer. In another study, researchers reported that teens who have a protein-rich breakfast are less likely to fill up on less healthful snacks later in the day.
We know that breakfast and well-fueled kids go together like milk and cereal. Children who have breakfast are more likely to be alert in school, earn better grades and have better behavior.
In a 2013 study performed by the nonprofit Share Our Strength, researchers found that kids who ate breakfast scored 17.5 percent higher on math tests. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania also reported higher test scores among children who ate breakfast.
We do not need to have a fancy breakfast banquet with white tablecloths and cloth napkins in the morning. Breakfast can be simple, such as a warmed piece of leftover veggie pizza or a tortilla with melted cheese served on a paper napkin. Both just take a minute or two to prepare.
If you forgo breakfast, consider these tips:
- Prepare for breakfast in advance. Mix the dry ingredients for muffins or pancake batter. In a separate container, measure and mix the wet ingredients. In the morning, combine and bake or cook.
- Set out the cereal bowls, spoons, whole-grain cereal box and some bananas before you go to bed. All you need to do is pour the cereal, peel and slice the bananas, and add some milk.
- Fill a sandwich bag with your favorite whole-grain cereal. Grab a cup of cold milk. Remember: Milk and cereal don’t have to be in the same bowl.
- Keep breakfast foods, such as ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal, yogurt, milk and fruit, on hand.
- Have some protein-rich food, such as an egg, yogurt, deli meat or peanut butter or another nut or seed butter.
- Have some fruit, especially fiber-rich whole fruit. You might want to blend it into a smoothie with some added yogurt.
- Add some vegetables to your morning meal. Sauté some chopped onions and peppers, then add beaten eggs and a little cheese. You can use leftover veggies.
- Build a breakfast burrito bar. Prepare toppings such as shredded cheese, diced ham, tomatoes and olives the night before. In the morning, scramble eggs, warm the tortillas and fill with your favorite toppings.
Here’s an interesting and fun muffin recipe from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program. The cost per serving is about 60 cents. To save time in the morning, rinse and chop the vegetables the prior evening.
Scrambled Egg Muffins
2 c. washed vegetables, diced (such as broccoli, red and/or green bell peppers, onion, spinach, mushrooms)*
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
(*) You can add diced ham as part of the vegetable mixture. You can sauté the vegetables in butter or oil if desired.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray muffin tin cups with nonstick spray. Add chopped veggies to the muffin tin. Beat eggs in a bowl. Stir in salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour eggs into the muffin tin and bake 20 to 25 minutes. To add cheese, remove the tin from the oven during the last three minutes of baking. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the muffins and return the tin to the oven. Bake until the internal temperature of the egg muffins reaches 160 F or a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Makes six muffins. Each muffin has 100 calories, 6 grams (g) of fat, 3 g of carbohydrate, 9 g of protein and 230 milligrams of sodium.
(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)