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Wake Up, Fuel Up: 5 Ways to Build a Better Breakfast

Written on September 24, 2013 at 11:07 am , by

Forget the breakfast bars and baked goods! They’ll just spike your blood sugar, leaving you ravenous well before noon. (Photo by Laura Doss)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it’s the first thing to go when a busy morning schedule gets the best of us. Unfortunately, those spared minutes do not provide the metabolism-revving, energy-boosting and cholesterol-lowering benefits of a well-balanced breakfast. We touched base with Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It and New York-based nutrition expert to get her top tips on fueling up before running out the door each morning. The most important meal of the day just got easier, tastier and a whole lot faster!

1. Think outside of the box of cereal. An ideal breakfast is made up of three components: whole-grain carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. Mix and match some of your fave whole-grain, high-fiber cereals to customize your flavor—just read the label to keep sugar levels in check. If you have a thing for cereals that are a little too high, find another that is low in sugar (1-3 grams) and combine the two. Remember, watch portion sizes! Aim for 1 cup total, about the size of a tennis ball. For more dense cereals, like granola, shoot for a little less, as the cereal is more dense.

2. Don’t make having breakfast negotiable. As much as we may hate to admit it, breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day. Skipping breakfast altogether leaves you feeling hungry and irritable, and possibly leads to overindulgence at lunchtime. Even nibbling on a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit is better than nothing—it sends the message to the brain that you have fuel to last you until the next meal. “If you have time to put on makeup, there’s time for breakfast,” says Bonnie. Have containers of yogurt, snack bags of chopped almonds and dry cereal and a bag of plastic spoons available for some grab-and-go goodness.

3. When making your lunch, toast a frozen whole grain waffle and add a smear of almond butter or cottage cheese topped with cinnamon for munching on-the-go. For those of us who squeeze in a workout before work, finding the right time to eat breakfast can be tricky. “Eat something on the light side about a half hour before working out,” she suggests. Try Greek yogurt or a smoothie for a quick, easy-to-digest meal that will keep you energized through your workout and the rest of your morning.

4. When you are able to (even if it’s only one day a week), take the time to make yourself a gourmet breakfast—perhaps an omelet stuffed with a medley of sautéed veggies and a whole grain muffin. You’re worth it and your body will thank you for the attention!

5. Don’t break the fast while multitasking! Yes, it’s better to have breakfast while posting something on Twitter than to ditch this meal altogether, but when possible, pay attention to the texture, temperature and taste of your meal. If you pay attention to what you’re eating you’ll not only appreciate those three T’s even more, but you’ll also feel more satisfied and be less likely to search for something else.

More from FITNESS:

Breakfast Fact vs. Fiction: Do You Know the Difference?

Written on March 4, 2013 at 8:09 am , by

What are your best breakfast options? Skolnik sifts through loads of info to get you the right answers. (Photo courtesy of Heidi Skolnik)

Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern

Did you eat breakfast this morning? Of course you did. So here’s a better question: what exactly did you eat?  Thanks to low-carb crazes and high-cholesterol concerns, it can be difficult to make a morning meal decision that leaves you not only feeling full, but energized and ready for the day. To debunk some of the most popular myths, we turned to nutritionist Heidi Skolnik, owner of Nutrition Conditioning, Inc. Can you separate fact from fiction?

Why are there so many misconceptions about healthy breakfast options?

I think we’re just bombarded with information. Nutrition is such a popular topic, and everyone is interested in it.  But we get information from all different kinds of places; it’s hard to sift through it and figure out what’s credible and solid and what isn’t.

What’s one of the biggest myths you continually set straight?

“I’m going to save my calories for later. I don’t like to eat breakfast because I can control myself in the morning, and then I can save those calories and eat them at dinner.” That really sabotages anyone who’s trying to lose weight. We know breakfast skippers have higher BMIs (body mass index) than breakfast eaters. When you skip breakfast, you’re way more likely to overeat later. Of course you get hungry later, but you can eat and be satisfied as opposed to eat dinner and raid the refrigerator for the rest of the evening. It’s hard for people to put together that what they eat in the morning affects their appetite at night, but that connection exists.

With that being said, what are some of the healthiest breakfast options?

The very most basic guideline is to include a whole grain, a protein, and a whole fruit or 100 percent fruit juice. An example of that would be a breakfast sandwich: go ahead and get an English muffin with egg and eight ounces of 100 percent Florida Orange Juice, which will give you vitamin C, potassium, folate, phytonutrients – all of those wonderfully occurring nutrients in oranges.  Or you can make yourself a yogurt parfait. I happen to like Greek yogurt because it’s high in protein. Add some fruit, granola and some healthy nuts on top.

What are the best on-the-go choices?

If you’re commuting, a whole-wheat pita with some peanut butter and sliced banana is really easy to take and go. You can eat it in the subway, on a train, in a taxi, on a bus – however you commute. Or, if you’re one of those who can’t get it together until work, then keep instant oatmeal at your desk and pair that with some yogurt and juice for a more balanced meal.

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Fit Blogger We Love: Munchin with Munchkin

Written on May 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm , by

Kris loves turning sinful dishes into heavenly (and healthy!) treats.

Kris, a fun, food-loving Canadian living in Texas blogs about her cooking adventures over at Munchin with Munchkin. A big fan of scouring the land for local produce, she has a knack for creating quick, tasty and good-for-you meals from these fresh ingredients. We caught up with the culinary connoisseur to find out what’s always in her gym bag and which sweet treat she likes after a tough workout.

My biggest motivator: My mum. She is a breast cancer survivor and has been in remission for over 10 years. She credits her success with eating right and exercising often. Seeing firsthand the struggles she went through keeps me motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle.

My gym bag must-have: Gossip magazines! When I go to the gym I hide the screen on the treadmill with a magazine. I get caught up in all the gossip and it distracts me from how much time I have left.

5 things I can’t live without:

  1. I would be lost without my food processor.
  2. My fiance, family, friends and my two cats. I am so grateful to have them in my life.
  3. Farmers markets and my herb garden. Fresh produce is so important for a healthy lifestyle!
  4. My camera. A photography career is pretty hard without it.
  5. The food blog community and my supportive readers. They are the lifeline to my blog.

My fave fit snack: Before working out I like to eat baked oatmeal; it gives me the energy I need to run that extra mile. After working out, I usually crave something cold. In my food processor I pulse together frozen bananas, peanut butter, protein powder and some cocoa powder—it tastes just like rich and creamy peanut butter cup ice cream without all the dairy, saturated fat and sugar. It’s also full of protein, which helps me refuel after a long run in the Texas heat.

Olympic sport I’d love to try: Luge! There’s something about sliding down a mountain like a human bullet that appeals to me. It can’t be any more dangerous than sliding down a hill on a cafeteria tray coated in cooking oil, like we used to do in college.

Want to try a simple, yummy recipe from Kris? Keep reading for one of her fave breakfast dishes!

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Two Must-Try Brunch Recipes From Rocco DiSpirito

Written on April 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm , by

Last week, FITNESS advisory board member and super chef Rocco DiSpirito made me breakfast. This was strictly (delicious) business, though! He hosted a group of editors to teach us how to make a low-calorie, well-balanced morning meal with ideas from his Now Eat This! Diet book and new recipes created with Coffee-mate’s recently-released Natural Bliss creamers.

It was all really tasty (and a huge step up from our usual weekday grab-and-go), so we asked DiSpirito to share two of his favorite recipes so we can all recreate them at home.

This dish is so delicious, it's worth the extra effort. (Photo courtesy of Coffee-mate Natural Bliss)

Vanilla Ricotta-Stuffed Crepes With Orange Maple Syrup

  • 6 tablespoons Natural Bliss Low-fat Vanilla
  • 4 teaspoons egg white powder
  • 8 ounces light ricotta cheese
  • 1 navel orange, 1/2 teaspoon of zest removed with fine grater, then peeled
  • 1/2 cup calorie-free pancake syrup
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint (about 8 leaves), torn into small piece
  1. Preheat the over to 350° F. Pour all but 2 teaspoons of the Natural Bliss in a small mixing bowl and whisk in the egg white powder until fully dissolved; set aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the remaining 2 teaspoons of Natural Bliss and 1/4 teaspoon of the orange zest set aside.
  3. With a sharp knife, cut the sections of orange flesh out from the white membrane that encases them in the orange. Place the orange sections, remaining 1/4 teaspoon orange zest and the pancake syrup in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until the mixture simmers, about 2 minutes. Carefully remove the plastic wrap on one side to vent but keep warm, and set aside.
  4. Spray a 10-inch nonstick skillet with one second of cooking spray and place over medium heat. Pour one-fourth of the Natural Bliss and egg powder mixture into the warm pan and swirl the mixture so it forms a thin even layer on the bottom of the pan. Put it over the heat until you can see browning at the edges, about 20 seconds, and then place in the oven and bake about 30 seconds or until it has full cooked. Pull the crepe out of the pan, cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and set aside. Repeat these steps to make three additional crepes.
  5. Place a dollop of the ricotta mixture in the center of each crepe and spread it out evenly over the crepes. Fold crepes in half and then in half again and place one crepe each on four plates. Spoon the warm orange syrup over each crepe and garnish with mint leaves.

Nutrition information per serving (one crepe): 108 calories, 4 g fat

For a super sip, click below.

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What to Look for in an Instant Oatmeal

Written on January 4, 2012 at 8:30 am , by

apple oatmeal with cinnamon

Photo by iStockphoto

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

It’s undeniable that oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfast option. However, not all oatmeal varieties share the same nutritional benefits. Of all the varieties, instant oatmeal probably takes the hardest hit since many are either loaded with sugar or fail to incorporate whole grains. Nevertheless, instant oatmeal can be a wonderful addition to your day if you know what to look for when choosing your brand at the grocery store.

Look for whole grains.
The first ingredient you find on your nutritional label should be a whole grain. Look for terms like “oats,” “instant oats,” or “whole grain rolled oats” to be listed as the first ingredient. This ensures that you will receive the same heart health benefits from your favorite instant oatmeal that you would from regular or quick-cooking oatmeal.

Look for fiber.
Choosing an instant oatmeal variety with at least 3 grams of fiber can also be beneficial. The fiber will help you feel fuller longer because of slower digestion time. This is important because instant oatmeal has been processed to cook more quickly and usually digests more quickly in the body. By slowing down the rate in which your body breaks down the oatmeal, the more likely blood sugars will remain stabilized. Bonus tip: Adding a little lean protein or healthy fat to this meal can also help slow digestion and keep blood sugar levels more even (try a few almonds on top).

Look (out) for sugar.
The amount of added sugar we see in some flavored varieties of instant oatmeal is where we start to see the dark side of instant hot cereal. Six grams or less is ideal, but you may be hard pressed to find something under this amount in a flavored variety. Instead, choose an unsweetened or original flavor and add your own fruit, honey or cinnamon to the mix.

Look (out) for sodium.
Although it may seem slightly out of place, most instant hot cereals add sodium for flavor and preservative purposes. Try to choose a cereal with less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.

In reality, instant oatmeal and regular oatmeal are quite similar nutritionally. The only main difference is how fast they are absorbed and digested by the body. Of course, added sugar and sodium has the potential to make instant oatmeal a less nutritious choice than the traditional; however, by sticking to plain or original flavors, incorporating instant oatmeal into your day can be a great way to eat well and stay full.

Looking for a few instant oatmeals that meet our nutrition criteria? Check out these three top picks:

  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal – Original Oatmeal – 100 cals, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar, 75 mg of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • Walmart’s Great Value – Original Oatmeal – 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar, 80 mg of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • Nature’s Path Organic – Original Oatmeal: 210 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar, 160 mg of sodium, and 6 grams of fiber per serving

More from Diets in Review:

10 Breakfast Foods With As Much Sugar As a Candy Bar

Recipe: Fresh Berry Oatmeal with Sweet Cream

The Most Popular Diets of 2011

In the Kitchen with Food Network’s Claire Robinson

Written on August 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm , by

Claire (left) and Lauren

Claire (left) and Lauren chat cuisine at a Coffee-mate event in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Coffee-mate)

Written by Lauren Cardarelli, editorial intern

With a hint of Southern twang and a whole lot of the hospitality, the host of Food Network’s 5 Ingredient Fix, Claire Robinson, demonstrates that time in the kitchen doesn’t have to be a chore. By simplifying recipes down to just a few, fresh ingredients (yep, you guessed it: five!), Claire makes preparing a delicious meal easier than ever.

“Turn over your packages! Know what you’re putting in your body,” advised the charismatic food enthusiast and adventure sport extraordinaire as she whipped up French Toast with Strawberries and Cream (keep reading for the recipe). “If you can’t pronounce what’s on the back, most likely it’s not good for you.”

After the cooking demonstration at the Coffee-mate Natural Bliss event last week, we sat down with Claire and asked her about her workout regimen, kitchen pantry staples and a whole lot more! Here’s what we learned:

  • Coffee pairs great with red meats and chocolate. Claire loves using espresso powder or a strong coffee to bring out the flavors in her savory desserts and beef dishes. Try this technique yourself with this unique dry-rubbed beef brisket recipe.
  • Swap your extra virgin for plain olive oil when cooking. You lose the flavoring of the extra virgin olive oil’s raw form when cooking with it over heat. Save some extra cash by buying the cheaper, regular olive oil for cooking purposes and keep the good stuff for drizzling over your meal before serving.<

Fit Links: Popular Breakfasts and Smile-Brightening Eats

Written on August 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm , by

A well-balanced breakfast will start your day on a positive note. (Photo by Chris Gallo)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Meatless Family Meals: Peas and Thank You

Written on July 27, 2011 at 11:17 am , by

(Photo courtesy of Harlequin)

Peas and Thank You, the book, is available now. (Photo courtesy of Harlequin)

Sarah Matheny would often tote a can of soup and a carton of yogurt for lunch during her busy day as an attorney. “I wasn’t eating terribly, but I did rely on a lot of processed foods,” Sarah admits. When she decided to become a stay-at-home mom after having her first daughter, Sarah opted to revamp her diet as well—turning vegetarian and  focusing on preparing whole foods-based meals. “I am a role model for my daughters and they pick up my behavior. I wanted to clean up my act,” she says.

Her meatless quest turned into a blog, Peas and Thank You, and the popularity of her recipes and stories on the blog offered her the opportunity to write a book. Peas and Thank You: Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love was released yesterday, sharing “healthier twists on foods we all enjoy.”

Since Sarah is a pro at creating produce-filled recipes her (adorable!) daughters devour, we asked for three tips for getting kids to eat their veggies:

  1. Don’t play hide and seek. “I want my kids to know that they’re eating vegetables so they realize at a young age that they’re delicious! Rather than disguising them, I incorporate them into meals they love the taste of, like enchiladas, pizza or pasta.”
  2. Make it visible. “We always have fresh produce in our crisper drawers, and tell our daughters that they can always grab something from there for a snack.”
  3. Let them help. “Bring your kids along to the grocery store and let them pick out a new vegetable that everyone in the family has to try that week. Then have the kids join you in the kitchen for meal preparation! They’ll have a sense of control.”

Click below for Sarah’s recipes for a simple morning smoothie and a mouthwatering dessert reminiscent of a brown bag lunch staple!

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Simple Smoothies for a Healthy Heart

Written on February 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm , by

In honor of Heart Health Month, let’s talk about taking care of our tickers! We spoke to Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic (and cocreator of the Real Age test with Dr. Oz), who shared a few of his Heart Smart Smoothie recipes that make it easy to whip up a healthy breakfast on even your busiest mornings.

“The ingredients [in these smoothies], including psyllium husks and fruit, help lower lousy (LDL) cholesterol while tasting great,” says Dr. Roizen. “Most Americans are only getting about half the fiber they should, and these smoothies, enjoyed every day, are a good start to help you reach the goal of 20-35mg of fiber a day.”

Dr. Roizen's Heart Healthy Smoothie

Dr. Roizen’s Heart Smart Smoothie


  • 1/3 cup soy protein powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon flaxseed oil
  • 1/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 large ripe banana (or berries of your choice)
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons psyllium fiber (sugar-free Metamucil)

Peel banana; break into chunks. Put all ingredients in a blender. Add 16 ounces of water with ice. Cover, blend until fairly smooth. Enjoy! Read more

Why Eating Breakfast is Still a Good Idea

Written on January 24, 2011 at 11:32 am , by

Yes, you should still eat breakfast!

Photograph by Laura Doss

If you’ve seen any of the recent headlines proclaiming that BREAKFAST IS MAKING YOU FAT, you may be thinking about swearing off all food before noon. But before you toss your bran flakes and skip your morning smoothie, we suggest reading the entire article. It’s not breakfast that’s causing people to gain weight –- it’s BIG breakfasts.

A study conducted by German researchers recently found that eating more calories at breakfast did not reduce the number of calories individuals consumed in a day. No matter how big their breakfast, the participants still ate the same amounts at lunch and dinner. The study concluded that eating a big, hearty breakfast could lead to consuming more calories per day. But it’s very important to note that these participants weren’t exactly helping themselves to a second bowl of fruit salad. Read more