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Get more protein in your breakfast meals

Published 5:11pm Saturday, October 19, 2013

We’ve heard it before.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because our bodies have been fasting all night and need a jump-start to wake up our metabolism.

But what we eat in the morning is just as important. Just as putting diesel into a gasoline-powered car would leave us broken down on the side of the road, eating the wrong foods at breakfast can cause us to break down midmorning due to lack of energy.

Making sure breakfast includes the right amount of protein (and whole grains and fruit) will allow you to get from morning to lunch.

One nutrient that is often overlooked at breakfast is protein.  Experts recommend getting 20-30 grams of protein at each meal, instead of eating a large amount of protein at one meal because spreading out protein throughout the day optimizes the way our body uses it.

Most people in America consume 10-12 grams of protein per meal. We need protein for so many functions, but some easy ones to remember are building muscles and hair, contributing to strong bones and teeth, healthy weight and healing.

Because breakfast is often lacking in adequate protein, there is an easy and affordable way you can make sure to increase your protein intake: add an 8-ounce glass of milk.

At 25 cents per glass, milk is a nutrient powerhouse, providing nine essential nutrients including eight grams of high-quality protein. Here is how other breakfast favorites stack up in protein:

1 serving of sausage                   9 grams

8 ounces milk                              8 grams

1 packet instant oatmeal          7 grams

2 tablespoons peanut butter    7 grams

8 ounces soy milk                      7 grams

1 ounce cheese                            7 grams

1 ounce almonds                        6 grams

1 egg                                              6 grams

3 slices of bacon                        4 grams

1 slice whole wheat toast        4 grams

8 ounces orange juice              2 grams

Breakfast quick hits

Here are some quick and easy ideas to power up your breakfast with protein:

 PB & B Sandwich with Milk

Spread two slices of whole grain toast with one tablespoon of peanut butter on each slice.  Top with half of a banana (sliced) and serve with an 8-ounce glass of fat-free milk. (24 grams protein)

Powered Up Oatmeal

Instead of making oatmeal with water, add half a cup of oats to eight ounces of fat-free milk. Sprinkle one tablespoon slivered almonds and half cup fresh blueberries. Serve with eight ounces of fat-free milk. (24 grams protein)

Make-Ahead Mini Broccoli Cheddar Frittatas (serve with an 8-ounce glass of milk)

Serves: 6 (2 frittatas each)


All you need

•Canola or olive oil spray

•6 large eggs

•1/3 cup white whole-wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)

•1 cup low-fat milk

•1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

•1 1/4 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

•1/2 tsp garlic powder

•1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

•1 3/4 cups frozen broccoli florets, thawed and chopped into bite-size pieces

•1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

•3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (use sharp cheddar for maximum flavor)

 All you do

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a standard muffin pan with oil spray and place on a sheet pan to prevent spills.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs with a fork or whisk until frothy, about 1 minute. In a bowl or cup, whisk flour into milk until incorporated. Combine milk mixture, Parmesan, soy sauce, garlic powder, black pepper and beaten eggs.

3. Evenly distribute broccoli and cheddar in the muffin tins. Fill tins evenly with egg mixture, stirring the bowl twice during the process to prevent settling, and sprinkle bell peppers on top. Bake 20 minutes and rotate pan. Continue to bake until the mixture is set in the middle, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 5-10 minutes*. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges of frittatas to release.

4. Cool leftovers and store in sealed containers for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 1 month in the freezer. To reheat 1 refrigerated frittata, microwave for 45 seconds; to reheat 1 frozen frittata, microwave for 60 seconds until hot in the middle.

* Frittatas prepared in dark muffin tins may take less time to cook.

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 180 calories; 9 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 230 mg cholesterol; 13 g protein; 10 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 290 mg sodium; 300 mg calcium (30% of daily value). Nutrition figures based on using low-fat milk.


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