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Breakfast on the Run: Thinking Outside the Box

Is your quick breakfast as healthy as you think?

Breakfast That Tastes Like Dessert

Among the latest breakfast crazes is the smoothie -- usually some combination of fruit, yogurt, and juice whipped in a blender to milkshake consistency.

While smoothies can be a healthy fare, the benefits may come to a screeching halt if you buy certain pre-made versions in a convenience or grocery store.

"Some of these supermarket smoothies have up to 20 teaspoons of sugar in each serving, and many of them have high fat content as well," says Somer.

Even smoothies you buy in a local diner or breakfast bar can be anything but healthy, Heller tells WebMD: "Some of them are made with ice cream -- full fat," she says.

Reading the labels can help you decide whether your smoothie is healthy or a high-calorie treat. But to be absolutely sure of what you're getting, Heller and Somer say, your best bet is to make smoothies at home.

"You can even make it the night before, store it in the refrigerator, and in the morning give it a 10-second whip, and you've got an instant healthy breakfast," says Somer.

Not quite as decadent-seeming as a smoothie, but just as good, is a bowl of yogurt. Grabbing a carton will add protein, calcium, and other nutrients to your diet. And to help lower the fat and calories, Somer suggests, you can buy an unflavored low-fat or no-fat type, then add fruit, honey, or jam on your own.

"There can be up to 9 teaspoons of sugar in a fruit yogurt," Somer says. "You are never going to put in as much as what is done for commercial preparation, so flavoring it yourself is going to be a lot healthier."

When it comes to '"out the door'" breakfasts, perhaps nothing is faster or easier than a cereal bar. But experts say these generally leave a lot to be desired.

"What makes cereal such a good choice is the high fiber, the low sugar, and low fat, and the addition of the milk and the fruit," says Somer. Without all that, she says, most cereal bars just aren't up to speed.

If you must eat them, Klein recommends saving them for an after-dinner treat and selecting healthier fare for your breakfast. If you need a quick, inexpensive fix in the morning, try grabbing a banana as you walk out the door.

Fast and Healthy Breakfast Tips

To help you think outside the box, Somer and Heller offer five additional tips for quick, healthy, and nutritious breakfasts:

1. Night-Before Oatmeal. Put a serving of rolled oats, a serving of hot milk, and a little sugar into a vacuum-sealed thermos bottle and set on the counter overnight. The oats will steam to perfection, and in the morning you'll have an instant hot breakfast.

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