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Healthy Living: Building a better breakfast

Your mother always told you to eat a good breakfast, and now, here comes one more reason she was right: Eating a healthy, protein-rich breakfast may help you avoid hunger, and over-eating, the rest of the day.

Recent research at the University of Missouri suggested that a healthy breakfast actually signaled the brain to feel more satisfied. Participants in the study who ate a high-protein breakfast even felt less compelled to overeat at lunch or to seek emotional “rewards” by eating.

This isn’t completely new news. Researchers have warned us for a while that if you skip breakfast, you’re setting yourself up to overeat and possibly gain weight. But the new study gives you another reason to not just settle for a morning doughnut.

Even if you’re starved for time in the morning, here are a few ideas to make your breakfast more protein-rich. And yes, they’re all fast:

Yogurt:  An 8-ounce serving of regular yogurt has from 8-12 grams of protein, or about 20 to 25 percent of the average woman’s recommended daily allowance. Greek yogurt is even higher in protein, with about 20 grams, or nearly half what the average woman needs!

Hard-boiled eggs: No time to scramble an egg in the morning? Cook them up the night before. If you don’t like them plain, slice onto a toasted English muffin half, then top with low-fat cheese and melt slightly in the microwave. One large hard-boiled egg has about 6 grams of protein, and about 75 calories.

Flax: Flax seed is high not only in protein but in fiber, so you’ll feel full longer. (Just one little tablespoon has two grams of protein and three grams of fiber.) You can buy ready-to-make oatmeal with flax already added; it’s also in some cold cereals and some commercial whole-grain breads. Or, you can simply sprinkle flax seed atop your favorite cereal or stir it into pancake batter.

Peanut butter: Smear your favorite bagel, bread or English muffin with protein-rich peanut butter; add a little honey if you prefer a sweeter breakfast. You’ll get about 8 grams of protein in a two-tablespoon smear. Almond butter is another alternative; it has only four grams protein in two tablespoons, but slightly less saturated fat than peanut butter.

Canadian bacon: A lower-fat alternative to bacon, sausage, or other traditional breakfast meats, it’s delicious on a muffin or bagel. One slice has about 45 calories, about the same as a medium slice of bacon, but it has more protein (almost six grams per slice, about twice as much as that piece of bacon).

Nonfat milk: If you truly have no time to eat in the morning, at least make time for a glass of nonfat milk. You’ll get just 85 calories and 8 grams of protein. Don’t care for the taste of plain milk? Make your own iced coffee: Brew just one cup of very strong coffee; pour half of it over ice and add one cup nonfat milk. Add sweetener to taste and you’re out the door.

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