Breakfast is a perfect time to get ahead on the nutrients you'll need all day. If you’re tired of the same old bowl of boxed cereal, or if your PB and toast has gone stale, so to speak, it’s time for a morning meal makeover.
These fast, heart-healthy dishes make hitting the snooze button less tempting.
Blueberry Yogurt Bowl
Greek yogurt is packed with protein. That’s a good quality in a breakfast, because it can help curb hunger throughout the morning. And that will make you less likely to visit the vending machine at work.
Nutrients called polyphenols in blueberries can help widen your blood vessels, which is good for your blood pressure. Garnish with walnuts for heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Make it: Blend together 3/4 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Place in serving bowl and top with 1/3 cup low-sugar granola and 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. Serves one.
Salmon Avocado Bites
Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your heart. Top it with creamy avocado -- the unsaturated fat will shave off some cholesterol numbers. Take a cue from the Scandinavians and use rye bread as a base. The high-fiber whole grain helps you feel full, which could put the brakes on overeating later in the day.
Make it: Mash 1/2 small avocado with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spread avocado on 4 rye crisps, and top with an equal amount of 2 ounces smoked salmon. Serves one.
It's smart to favor whole-grain waffles over the white-flour version. Check that the first ingredient listed on the package includes the word “whole.”
Adding peanut butter gives you a winning mix of protein, good fats, and fiber, so your breakfast can help improve blood cholesterol and tame hunger throughout the day. Look for jars with no added sugar, salt, or hydrogenated fats. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which can help keep your blood pressure in check.
Make it: Toast 1 whole-grain frozen waffle, and top with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and 1 cup sliced strawberries.
Soaking steel-cut oats overnight is a way to greatly shorten the cooking time and enjoy this chewy whole grain on busy weekday mornings. Oats have fiber that can cut your "bad" LDL cholesterol level.
Make it: Place 1 cup steel-cut oats, a pinch of salt, and 3 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Immediately turn off heat, and let oats soak overnight, covered. In the morning, stir in 1/2 cup low-fat milk, 1 shredded carrot, 1/3 cup raisins, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Heat over medium-low until warmed through. Top with sliced pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup. Serves 3 - 4.
Peach (Almond) Milkshake
Low-calorie almond milk lends this drink extra nutty flavor and plenty of vitamin E, which may cut blood fat levels and improve brain health. Peaches are rich in vitamin C for better blood pressure numbers, and reduced-fat ricotta adds creamy richness and hunger-taming protein.
Make it: In a blender, whirl together 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 cup light ricotta cheese, 1 cup unsweetened fresh or frozen peach slices, 2 teaspoons almond butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon into a frosty breakfast smoothie. Serves 1-2.
Maple-Almond-Pear English Muffins
Choose a muffin made from whole-grain flour. Pair it with pears, which are among the fruits with the most fiber -- a small pear has 5 grams' worth.
Make it: In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons unsalted almond butter, 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Spread almond mixture on two halves of toasted whole wheat English muffins. Top with thinly sliced pear. Serves one.
This melon’s orange-tinged flesh is a tip-off that it’s full of beta-carotene, a nutrient that helps lower cholesterol levels and inflammation.
Stirring vanilla extract into plain yogurt is a great way to avoid added sugars in store-bought flavored versions. And despite their extra calories, pistachios aren't likely to cause weight gain, but they may work to improve blood cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.
Make it: Cut a cantaloupe in half. Slice about 1/2 inch off each bottom so that they sit flat, and then scoop out the seeds. In a bowl, stir together 1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Stuff the yogurt into the cantaloupe half, and top each with a tablespoon unsalted, shelled pistachios. Serves two.
Toasty granola prepared in a skillet is quick and delicious. It can have less added sugar than many store-bought types. Rolled oats are a reliable source of cholesterol-busting fiber, while pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) give you a range of nutrients.
Make it: Warm 1 tablespoon canola oil and 1 tablespoon honey in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup dried cherries or sliced dried apricots, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, and a pinch of salt to skillet. Heat until oats are toasted, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Spread mixture on a baking sheet or cutting board to cool. Serve with milk or top with Greek yogurt and berries of choice. Serves four.