By Ali Lopez
September has come and gone and we are nearly through October! How did that happen? Maybe you are back into the swing of things and starting each morning with a balanced, healthy nutritious meal for you and your family. That’s awesome! Or maybe you are still struggling and thinking you don’t have enough time, so you are grabbing a cup of coffee and sending the kids off with a sugary breakfast bar. We all have heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” and while I believe every meal is important, I wanted to share some of my favorite quick ideas for those early morning meals. Now that time is a little more precious, I have some great ideas for quick and nutritious breakfast ideas for you and your family. And as runners, having a quick-and-easy breakfast after a morning workout is also important in terms of refueling your body properly and getting a great start on the day.
Smoothies and Oat Things
I am a huge fan of smoothies as long as they aren’t a milkshake disguised as a smoothie. So make sure you get some nutrition in there. There are endless ingredients to add to them, so you can really make them to fit anyone’s taste. A great tip is to prepare a bunch of ingredients ahead of time and store them in a Ziplock bag in the freezer so you can quickly grab it, blend it and head out the door! It is a great way to get a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables in the morning.
Another on-the-go option is a mason jar parfait. They can be just as varied as smoothies, but in a non-blended way. One of my favorites is to layer plain Greek yogurt (mixed with a little honey or maple syrup) with granola, strawberries and blueberries. You can add in any fruits that you like — and even better if you make your own granola.
You all know my love for overnight oats, which is definitely a great make ahead breakfast to take with you. But here is another great oats idea:
Amazing PB and J Baked Oatmeal
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (use the real stuff here)
1 tablespoon REAL maple syrup or honey
2 cups milk (regular or non dairy)
2 cups rolled oats (not quick or instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of your favorite jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8×8 inch baking pan or a muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, maple syrup, egg and milk. Whisk together until well blended. Fold in oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Pour into prepared pan and make sure oatmeal is evenly spread out. Drop jam by spoonfuls onto oatmeal bake, then swirl with a knife. Bake for 30-35 minutes until baked. If you baked them in a pan, you can cut them and portion them out ahead of time.
Eggs are a great breakfast, but people think they don’t have enough time to make eggs in the morning. Plan ahead and it’s simple. The easiest thing you can do is just cook up a bunch of hard boiled eggs and keep them at the ready so you can grab one on the way out the door. (You can even peel them ahead of time to make it easy when you want to eat it.)
Here is my favorite “perfect hard boiled egg method”:
Put your eggs in a pot so that they fit in one layer. Add cold water to cover by about an inch or two. Put the lid on the pot. Turn the water on, bring to a boil, and as soon as it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and set your timer for 10 minutes. In the meantime get a bowl of ice water ready. When the timer goes off, drain the eggs in a colander and then add them to the ice water and let them cool.
Another great portable breakfast are mini egg muffin cups. They are easily made ahead of time and can store in the fridge or freezer so you can use as needed and pop in the microwave or toaster oven, or even eat straight from the fridge.
Here’s my basic recipe, which you can vary depending on what you like:
1 dozen eggs
1/2 cup milk
a handful of baby spinach, briefly chopped
1 cup cooked and cooled veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, onions, peppers)
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin tin very well or line with muffin liners.
In a bowl mix together eggs, milk, salt and pepper until combined. Add veggies and cheese into the muffin tins, then pour batter on top filling about 3/4 full. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake for about 20 minutes. When ready take out of oven and let cool completely. You can keep the muffins in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for a bout a month. Use a knife to run around the edges of the muffin to release them from the tin.
The muffins can be refrigerated for 5 days or frozen up to a month. Reheat in microwave or toaster oven before serving or you can eat them straight from the fridge.
* You can also bake this in an 8×8 pan as a fritatta and add even more veggies before cutting into squares.
Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at heather [at] michiganrunnergirl [dot] com
Ali will answer your questions in upcoming columns here on MRG. You can read her post about the Power of Smoothies, here » She’s also written about superfoods and shares a great recipe for kale salad here »
Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »
You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on a recent MRG podcast episode here »