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Plated with Rebecca Turner: A better back to school breakfast

By Rebecca Turner

Plated with Rebecca Turner: A better back to school breakfast

Breakfast is considered ‘the most important meal of the day,’ and for a good reason. As the name implies, breakfast breaks the overnight fasting period. Eating a balanced meal within 90 minutes of waking replenishes your glucose supply to boost your energy levels and alertness while also providing other essential nutrients required for good health. But, in our fast-paced culture, breakfast is the most skipped meal of the day. Missing breakfast can set the stage for mindless snacking and running low on nutrients of concern like calcium, potassium, iron, dietary fiber and vitamin D.

For students, skipping breakfast may negatively impact their classroom grades. When students eat a healthy breakfast, they have improved concentration, better test scores, increased energy and maintain a healthier body weight. Studies show that students who eat breakfast the morning of a standardized test have significantly higher spelling, reading and math scores than those who miss it. A morning meal is especially important for younger students whose brains use up about half of the body’s energy. Students don’t have to eat at home to see the academic achievements that come from consistent breakfast, schools who offer the School Breakfast Program notice the advantages, too, especially in math.

A balanced breakfast may sound like something hard to achieve on a school morning, but it doesn’t require a made to order, hot meal. Your first meal of the day should include three of the five food groups — whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy. Make breakfast simple and nutritious by serving Greek yogurt parfaits, homemade smoothies, or peanut butter on whole-wheat toast with a banana. When purchasing grab-n-go protein bars or shakes, look for a brand with a minimum of five grams of fiber and five grams of protein — pair pre-packaged items with a glass of milk for quality protein plus bone-building nutrients. In the drive-thru, look for veggie breakfast wraps, fruit and yogurt parfaits, or oatmeal with a fruit cup.

A nontraditional breakfast is better than no breakfast, so why not try a ham and cheese sandwich, or good ole PB&J on whole grain bread? Plan and make several meals at once. Make-ahead breakfast burritos, overnight oats, or muffin pan omelets will leave you and your family on schedule in the mornings while still getting well-fed. Whether adult or child, eating a morning meal improves moods, sharpens minds and prevents us from getting too hungry before lunch.

 

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds lean ground meat (turkey or beef)

2 packets low-sodium taco seasoning

5 eggs

1 cup egg whites

2 cups chopped spinach

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup diced tomatoes

10 whole-wheat wraps

2% shredded cheese

Prepare meat according to taco seasoning directions. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and egg whites and pour into a heated skillet. Add spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes to eggs and scramble. Combine seasoned meat with the egg and vegetable scramble. Fill tortillas with mixture and top with shredded cheese. Fold tortillas into a burrito. Wrap in wax paper. Place all 10 burritos into a freezer-safe gallon zip-top bag and freeze. When you are ready to eat, place the frozen burrito (still wrapped) into the microwave for about 90 seconds, turning throughout.

*You can switch up the vegetables to your preference, and feel free to substitute the meat for black beans.

Serves 10

 

Overnight Oats

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon flax seeds

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add all the ingredients into a pint-sized mason jar, or similar container. Give a good stir and set in the refrigerator overnight. Before eating, top it off with fresh fruit and sprinkle with nuts of choice.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at www.RebeccaTurnerNutrition.com.

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