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Head Start - Best Breakfast Foods to Fuel Your Body

Kimberly Nicoletti

The best way to start the day is with something healthy” says internist Dr. Dennis Lipton. We know this intuitively but when it comes to choosing from traditional breakfasts which range from eggs and bacon to blueberry muffins and cereal it's tricky to nail down the best start. But with a little knowledge it's fairly simple — and can even be quite delicious! The overall goal is to obtain most of your calorie intake through unprocessed vegetables fruits whole grains nuts seeds and legumes Lipton says. “If you focus on consuming only the most nutrient-dense foods the calories protein carbs and fats will take care of themselves.” Get a head start on your day with better breakfast habits.

To boost your metabolism “Eat breakfast within an hour to 90 minutes of waking” says VVMC dietitian Katie Mazzia.


For sustained energy levels lasting up to five hours
Eat protein and fiber. A hardy skier or mountain climber breakfast may include a hard-boiled egg plus oatmeal made with milk or a milk alternative. For a protein boost add 1 to 2 tablespoons of nuts or hemp seeds and then top with dried or fresh fruit and 1 tablespoon of ground flax. Another option: 1 egg and 2 egg whites scrambled with 1/2 cup vegetables 2 tablespoons of cheese and seasonings paired with 2 pieces of whole grain toast or wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

If your morning doesn't include a workout and provides flexibility
Eat a small breakfast first such as a serving of high-fiber low-sugar cereal with almond milk and then have a healthy snack like Greek yogurt (which contains more protein than other yogurt) with ½ cup of fruit and 1 tablespoon ground flax nuts or chia or hemp seeds (for fiber)

If you're dashing off to work
Opt for avocado on toast or a fruit and veggie smoothie. Though protein fuels the body longer than carbs do excessively high protein breakfasts are not necessarily better. “Americans are not protein deficient” Mazzia says adding it's generally better for people to choose whole proteins which contain the proper proportion of essential amino acids as opposed to processed foods with added protein or protein powders.

If you're used to bacon and eggs
Try 1 egg plus 2 egg whites and 1 slice of “natural bacon” which doesn't contain nitrates or 2 oz. of leftover grilled chicken or lean meat quickly sautéed with spinach or ½ cup of a veggie mix like sweet potato kale etc. or a natural chicken maple breakfast patty in a whole wheat English muffin.

When shopping for cereals breads and tortillas
Choose products with at least 3 grams of fiber and avoid those with ingredients like food dyes artificial sugars polydextrose and more than 10 grams of sugar. Cereal brands like Kix Kashi Bear Naked Fit Kind Healthy Grains Granola Cascadian Farms Barbara's Puffins Grapenuts Cheerios and Shredded Wheat fit the bill.

If you want something quick
1 cup frozen fruit blended with 1 cup milk or alternative milk 1/3 cup quick oats or 1/3 cup almond meal.

To get your caffeine (and natural sugar) fix
Green tea provides antioxidants and 4 to 6 oz. of 100 percent fruit juice herbal or black tea and even a moderate amount of black coffee are all fine Mazzia says. Caffeine suppresses the appetite so if you drink coffee before breakfast remember to eat soon afterward. Try to limit caffeine intake to 300 mg a day knowing that a 16 oz. Starbucks contains about 330 mg and a double shot of espresso adds up to roughly 350 mg. Energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster result in “false energy” and contain herbs with caffeine which may be a bad combination especially if you take prescription medication she says.

To have on hand
Bake some healthy high-fiber muffins on the weekend and freeze them. (If you juice you can even add the high-nutrient pulp to the muffins.) Then pop one into the microwave on weekdays.

Or make your own trail mix
1/3 cup dried fruit (avoid pineapple because it's high in sugar and banana   chips because they are usually fried and therefore high in fat)
½ cup whole grain cereal
Some dark chocolate chips (>70 percent cocoa)
2 tablespoons of nuts.

For busy families —options kids will love
“Convenience or packaged products don't (necessarily) mean unhealthy” Mazzia says. “Look for simple ingredients and when possible avoid food additives and preservatives.”

Make a peanut butter and jelly shake with 1 cup milk ½ frozen banana ½ cup frozen or fresh strawberries and 1 tablespoon peanut butter.

Warm a whole wheat or corn tortilla filled with leftovers.

Add 1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter to oatmeal for a protein boost (sprinkle with cinnamon or cocoa powder). Make an oat shake by blending 1/3 cup oatmeal with 1 cup milk or milk alternative ½ banana or other fruit and a bit of honey or maple syrup. Thin with milk as needed and serve with a straw. Note: Do not serve honey to children under 1 year of age.

Cut-up fruit served with toothpicks and a fruit dip made of Greek yogurt and 100 percent fruit jam can be a fun way to entice kids to eat fruit and get a burst of protein.

Pair a store-bought nutrition bar with a piece of fruit just look for bars like Luna and Clif with 200-250 calories 8-10 grams of protein and 3-5 grams of fiber.

New dietary guidelines
When it comes to the great egg debate it turns out eggs particularly organic or vegetarian fed are okay again in moderation. Studies suggest that one egg a day does not result in higher blood cholesterol or increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people.
Then there's the milk debate. Mazzia says organic pasteurized milk provides a balanced mix of carbohydrates protein calcium and Vitamin D. Milk alternatives like almond coconut and rice milk don't contain much protein but soy does. Lipton recommends non-dairy milks—the less processed and unsweetened (avoid additives like carrageenan) the better. Mazzia reminds parents with children between 12 months and 2 years that they need whole milk because the extra fat supports their developing brains.

Model Behavior
“Create healthy eating behaviors in your kids by modeling them yourself” Lipton says. “We always have some sliced fruit ready in the mornings with the requirement that it gets eaten before anything else. Then provide a few healthy cereal options. On mornings that we have more time we make pancakes or waffles (with whole grain flours and non-dairy milk and no added oil or sugar) or oatmeal.” Remember though breakfast is the most important meal of the day a huge protein-packed one won't provide energy for an entire day says Rhonda Galer clinical nutrition manager at Vail Valley Medical Center. But with a bit of planning it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your morning. 



Fruit Lovers Basic Fruit Smoothie 
(Serves two)

1 cup or more of 100 percent fruit or vegetable blend juice milk or dairy alternative
1½ cups plain regular or Greek yogurt or yogurt alternative
1 to 2 cups frozen or fresh fruit or 1 cup fruit and 1 cup fresh spinach or other greens
*Place in blender and blend until smooth.


Apple Surprise
Cut 1 apple in half and remove the core (plus a bit of the extra flesh around the core). Drop 1 tablespoon of nut butter between the holes and sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of granola or raisins and top with a bit of cinnamon. Eat right away or wrap up the whole apple in plastic wrap or foil to go.


Cereal To Go
1/4 cup nuts
1/3 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup dry low-sugar high-fiber cereal
*Put everything in a baggie together


Power Boosters
1 tablespoon chia or hemp seeds ground flax or cocoa nibs
1 tablespoon nut butter
1/4 avocado
*Add any of these to a smoothie or hot or cold cereal.


Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes (serves two to three)
1 mashed super ripe banana
2 eggs or 1 egg
and 2 egg whites or
6 egg whites
2 tablespoons ground flax or 1 tablespoon
chia seeds
Dash of vanilla
Add a teaspoon of your favorite spices (cinnamon nutmeg etc.) or a few chopped nuts. Top with plain yogurt and berries if desired.

1. Mash banana with a fork. Beat eggs and combine with mashed banana. Add in any optional ingredients or use a blender to combine all ingredients and process until smooth.

2. Heat griddle over low heat spray with a non-stick spray or coat with a little olive oil then pour batter onto griddle in small circles the size of a silver dollar (any larger and they will be difficult to flip). Flip after edges start to cook and allow the pancakes to cook through.


Avocado on Toast
Top 2 slices of whole-grain bread with smashed avocado and a prinkling of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Protein Bonus:
Add a cooked egg and make a sandwich for a well-rounded breakfast that will keep you full for hours.


Healthy & Hearty Chocolate Banana Breakfast Quinoa (Serves 2)
1/2 cup raw quinoa (remember to rinse first)
11/4 cup of milk or milk alternative
1/2 cup water
Dash of sea salt
1 banana 1/2 mashed
1/2 cut into slices
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons
cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon
vanilla extract
Handful of walnuts
1 tablespoon chia seeds or fresh mint for garnish optional

1. Bring 1/2 cup of rinsed quinoa 1/2 cup water 1 cup milk and a dash of sea salt to a boil in a small pot.

2. Once boiling reduce the heat to a simmer and cook stirring occasionally until all the liquid has been absorbed (about
10 minutes).

3. Remove quinoa from stove and transfer to a bowl.

4. Mix in the mashed banana cocoa powder vanilla and honey. Stir until evenly combined.

5. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of milk or milk alternative over quinoa garnish with banana slices walnuts chia seeds or other and enjoy.


Overnight Oats
The night before combine
1/2 cup milk or milk alternative
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 a banana (mashed)
1/4 cup chopped nuts
a sprinkle of cinnamon in a sealed container.
By morning you'll have delicious overnight oats to heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or serve cold.