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Bowl of Fruit and Cereal

Ah, the morning rush. You’re late (and hungry), the kids are clamoring for attention, and running out the door without having a bite seems like a very good idea. We have a better one.

Eating a nutritious breakfast every day can make an incredible (and positive) difference in the way you feel. With a little planning, and these helpful tips, you can turn even on-the-go breakfasts into a healthy start.

1) Plan ahead. Go on a healthy breakfast shopping trip and stock up on basics like fresh fruit, whole grain cereals and breads, granola bars, eggs, dried fruit, nut butters and yogurt. Use them to prepare breakfast options like homemade granola (easy recipe below), fiber-rich muffins or one of these quick choices:

  • A bowl of high-fiber, multigrain cereal, lots of strawberries, and low-fat milk on top.
  • A granola bar, an apple, and a cold glass of milk.
  • A cup of nonfat yogurt, fresh blueberries mixed in, and a slice of whole wheat toast with a fruit spread on top.
  • A mini whole wheat bagel, spread lightly with cream cheese and jam; a peach; and a cup of yogurt.
  • A scrambled egg, a whole wheat roll, fresh fruit salad, and a cup of low-fat milk.
  • A low-fat muffin, a wedge of cantaloupe, and a cup of latte made with skim milk.

2) Know the basics. Start your day with a healthy dose of lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats, and you're less likely to reach for comfort snacks later in the day. Remember that whole grains are also an excellent source of protein and that healthy fat options such as low-fat dairy products, nuts and lean meats are also important.

3) Crack an egg. The egg debate continues, but one large whole egg is low in calories and sodium, provides more than 6g of protein, more than 250mg of choline, which helps your cells function properly and may help keep your mind sharp, and is a good source of lutein, which is important for eye health. If cholesterol or other dietary restrictions are at issue for you, skip the eggs. There are other ways to get the same nutrients.

4) Go oats! Oatmeal is good for you. It's rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, folate and potassium and can help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. In order, highest to lowest, of fiber content and cooking time your oatmeal options are: steel cut, old fashioned, quick cooking and instant.

5) Choose Superfoods. There’s no time like the start of the day to fill up on nutrient-packed superfoods which can help you fight disease, feel more energetic and even lose weight.

6) Grab a Smoothie. Blend a cup of strawberries, a banana, a scoop of protein powder and a cup of crushed ice, and you’ve got a healthy, on-the-go breakfast filled with antioxidants. Toss in a cup of plain yogurt, and you’ve just added a bone-strengthening dose of calcium. Get more breakfast smoothie recipes.

7) Make your own granola. Mix 2 cups of rolled oats with 1 cup dried fruits and seeds and a little brown sugar. Toast 3-5 minutes in a warm oven and store in an airtight container.

8) Shop the vegetarian aisle. Soy bacon and sausage, gardenburgers, and soy crumbles make great sources of protein for breakfast without the saturated fat of their meat originals.

9) Create your own breakfast sandwich. Skip the drive-thru line (and the calories) and make your own to-go sandwich by topping a whole wheat English muffin with melted low-fat cheese (part-skim mozzarella is a good choice), a sliced tomato, and a sliced, hard-boiled egg.

10) Indulge. Shave one ounce of dark, fair trade chocolate (you can shave several ounces ahead of time to use as you need them) over a cup of nonfat yogurt. Heaven, not to mention calcium-rich and antioxidant-loaded.

The most important tip is to eat breakfast every day. No exceptions. This one action alone can make a huge, positive difference in your health.

What’s your favorite healthy breakfast food?

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