• Power Up Your Breakfast with a Protein Boost

    Karen BuchAre you a breakfast minimalist? Do you skip the morning meal entirely or grab a muffin on the way to work? If so, you’re probably dreaming about lunch long before lunchtime.

    For good reason, many nutritionists consider breakfast the most important meal of the day—for both children and adults. A high-protein breakfast helps you face your day, stay alert on the job and keep your appetite suppressed throughout the morning. And although it may seem counter-intuitive, skipping breakfast is a poor weight-loss strategy.

    “Our brains need to refuel,” says Karen Buch, R.D., of Nutrition Connection, a consulting firm in Pennsylvania. “A balanced breakfast jump-starts your metabolism. We know breakfast eaters tend to have a better body mass index (BMI). Eating breakfast tends to be a habit associated with folks who maintain a healthy weight.”

    A proper breakfast is especially important for schoolchildren. It’s not easy to stay focused and ready to learn when you’re hungry. Pregnant women also need to eat regularly and may find that small, frequent meals keep them feeling better than two or three large meals.

    For many on-the-go people, portability is essential in the a.m. A breakfast that can’t be consumed in the car, on the train or at the desk is not going to happen. Eggs provide a healthy solution because they can be boiled ahead, in quantity, and stored for days. Grab and go.

    Buch likes to cook her morning eggs in a coffee cup in the microwave. “I’ll give it a whisk with a fork, cook it halfway, give it another stir and cook some more,” says the dietitian. “I’ll put that scrambled egg on a whole grain English muffin or wrap it in a whole-wheat tortilla. The microwave makes it so fast. It’s a misconception that people don’t have time for breakfast.”

    Greek yogurt makes a great high-protein partner for eggs. Add fresh berries for antioxidants and you have an admirable fast-food breakfast.

    A refrigerator stocked with quick-cooking vegetables makes improv easy in the morning. Buch keeps baby spinach and sun-dried tomatoes on hand as egg enhancements. “If you’re making, say, an omelet, just sprinkle the spinach in,” advises Buch. “It wilts instantly.”

    When roasting vegetables for dinner, prepare extra and refrigerate them for use in frittatas or scrambled eggs. Tomatoes, zucchini, onions, butternut squash, mushrooms—roasting caramelizes their sugars and boosts flavor. Condiments like salsa and hot sauce add nutrients, spice, and variety. “My husband will put Sriracha on anything,” says Buch.

    A breakfast sandwich travels well if you have to eat in transit. Make scrambled eggs, egg salad or an omelet; tuck between toasted whole-grain English muffins or whole-wheat toast; and wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil.

    “I’m redefining the company that eggs keep by pairing with spinach, broccoli, and mushrooms instead of sausage and bacon,” says Buch. “My three-year-old daughter says she likes it when there’s ‘salad’ in her eggs.”

    Egg Breakfast Frittata

    Featured recipe: A Mixed Vegetable Frittata puts Buch’s breakfast tips to work. Or add a green salad and serve for lunch or dinner.