Old advice is right: Healthful breakfast is day's head start


For as long as anyone can remember, mothers, nutritionists school nurses, troop leaders, home economics teachers, managers and coaches all said to "eat breakfast or else."

Skipping breakfast ensured a sluggish brain and body, bad posture, poor grades, and much worse. The importance of breakfast to performance and health was a given. But is this still the case? Or has the breakfast adage gone by the wayside, along with "Potatoes are fattening" or "Eat meat at every meal"?

Well, the old saw holds true. The Iowa Breakfast Studies done in the 1970s, still considered valuable research, showed that when people went without breakfast their mental reactions were slower and performance on the job or at school was poorer. Curiously, new research has shown that people who do not eat breakfast have higher levels of serum cholesterol than those who do, even if the breakfast skippers consume less total fat on a daily basis.

Habitually skipping breakfast increases the likelihood of missing crucial nutrients in your diet. Traditional breakfast foods contain fiber, minerals and vitamins that are not plentiful in routine lunch and dinner fare. Cereal is very high in fiber, a glass of orange juice provides more than a day's requirement of vitamin C, milk is an important source of vitamin D and calcium, and eggs are rich in minerals and vitamins A and D.

Unfortunately, the breakfast table has its share of fat- and cholesterol-laden foods, such as eggs, sausage and bacon. So we created a bevy of healthful alternatives:

FTC With a nutritious surprise filling, this low-fat French toast is sure to please children.

Banana-raisin French toast

Serves two.

1 ripe banana, peeled

2 teaspoons frozen orange juice concentrate

4 slices cinnamon-raisin bread

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup skim milk

1/4 cup non-fat or low-fat yogurt

1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

1 teaspoon butter

In a small, shallow bowl, mash banana coarsely with a fork. Stir in orange juice concentrate. Spread the banana mixture over 2 slices of bread and top with the remaining 2 slices of bread, forming 2 sandwiches. In a pie plate, whisk together egg whites and milk; add sandwiches and soak for about 20 seconds. Turn sandwiches over and soak for 20 seconds longer. Transfer the sandwiches to a plate.

In a small bowl, stir together yogurt and maple syrup or honey. Set aside. In a non-stick skillet, melt 1/2 teaspoon butter over low heat. Tilt the pan to swirl the butter around the skillet. With a metal spatula, place the sandwiches in the pan, and cook until the underside is browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Lift the sandwiches and add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon butter. Turn over and cook for 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until browned.

Serve with the sweetened yogurt.

Per serving: 302 calories; 11 grams protein; 4 grams fat; 57 grams carbohydrate; 317 milligrams sodium; 7 milligrams cholesterol.

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