Starting the Day on the Right Foot with Breakfast

By Ashley Sears, Esquire, Sponsored Moo Squad athlete

Call me crazy, but nothing beats a wholesome, healthy breakfast to start the day.  I like to think of sleep as my time travel to breakfast, and without a solid breakfast, hanger is a real life emotion for me.  My family and friends know that I used to be a “leftovers for breakfast” kind of kid.  It wasn’t unusual to see shepherd’s pie or spaghetti on my plate in the morning before school (not the healthiest options, I know). In high school, I started changing my eating habits and having eggs, toast, and jam. In college, my eating habits were somewhat less disciplined and I would often have sugary cereal or a granola bar. Once I got to law school and realized how important a complete breakfast was to stay focused through late night classes and studying, I took the time to meal prep and have breakfast ready for class the next morning. Overnight oats, yogurt parfaits, and smoothies became my go-to meals. Not only did this benefit me in the classroom, it contributed to my running and overall health.

Healthy never looked so good. WHOLE GRAIN Hot Cocoa Muffins from Windham Raymond School Nutrition Program.

This week, March 6-10, marks National School Breakfast Week. Additionally, throughout the month of March, we recognize and celebrate National Nutrition Month.  This provides an opportunity to talk about healthy lifestyle choices, recipes that taste good and are good for you, and how we can eat well while still leading hectic and busy lives. The National School Breakfast Week program was founded in 1989 through the collaborative efforts of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the School Nutrition Association. The program provides over 13 million breakfast meals to school-aged children, regardless of economic background, helping students to be alert and productive during the school day.

Maple Apple French Toast Bake, also from Windham Raymond School Nutrition Program.

This year’s theme for National School Breakfast Week is “Take the School Breakfast Challenge,” which encourages students, parents, and teachers to start their morning with a healthy breakfast. Often short on time and trying to complete a million tasks before the school day starts, taking time the night before to prepare breakfast is a great option to save time and ensure that you aren’t skipping breakfast the next day.  Incorporating dairy products into breakfast is also a surefire way to get the necessary protein, calcium, and vitamins you need to stay focused, energized, and full until lunch.

Here are a few of my favorite breakfast recipes, that can be made ahead of time and provide a bounty of protein, vitamins, and flavor!

Wild Blueberry Smoothie:

Blueberry smoothie

½ cup milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
½ cup vanilla or plain yogurt
½ cup frozen wild blueberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
Handful of ice cubes

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender.  Blend until desired consistency.  Place in freezer overnight and let thaw in morning.  Enjoy on your way to work or school.

Maple Overnight Oats:

½ cup steel cut oats
½ cup milk
½ scoop vanilla protein powder
1 T pure maple syrup
½ cup chopped apples
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 T chopped walnuts or almonds

Bring oats and milk to a boil on the stove.  Stir in protein powder, maple syrup, spices, and chopped apples.  Place in a Ball Mason jar or microwave safe container and sprinkle nuts on top.  Store in fridge and reheat in microwave for one minute in the morning.

Windham Raymond School Nutrition Program also offers Patriotic Parfaits to its students.

Patriotic Parfait:

¾ cup vanilla or plain yogurt
¼ cup blueberries
¼ cup diced strawberries
¼ cup raspberries
¼ cup granola of choice (I love GrandyOats Wild Blueberry granola; check for sugar amounts on granola, as some can contain a lot!)
1 T pure honey

Begin layering a mason jar or container with yogurt, followed by granola, and then fruit.  Repeat until all ingredients are used.  Drizzle honey on top.  Place lid on container and store in fridge until the morning.

Breakfast Burrito:

1 low-carb tortilla (I like Joseph’s brand found in the deli section of the grocery store)
1 scrambled egg or 6 T scrambled egg whites
2 T shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup black beans
¼ whole avocado, sliced
1 T salsa

Scramble eggs on stove.  Place tortilla on plate and add scramble eggs.  Next, add black beans and avocado slices.  Sprinkle with cheese and top with salsa.  Roll up breakfast burrito and wrap in aluminum foil.  Place in freezer overnight and reheat in microwave for one-two minutes (depending on microwave) in the morning.

Superhero Muffins (recipe from Run Fast. Eat Slow.):

2 cups almond meal
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
½ cup raisins, chopped dates, or dark chocolate chips (optional)
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated zucchini (about 1 zucchini)
1 cup grated carrots (about 2 carrots)
6 T unsalted butter, melted
½ cup dark amber maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper muffin cups.
In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and walnuts, raisins, dates, or chocolate chips (if using).
In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, zucchini, carrots, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.  The batter will be thick.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each to the brim.  Bake until the muffins are nicely browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25-35 minutes.