Category: "Breakfast Foods"

The biggest lie we tell ourselves

May 31st, 2014 | no comments

We tell ourselves this lie so often that we’re actually starting to believe it! Trust me, I’ve used this excuse myself…plenty of times!

Look, I know it’s not always easy to make yourself a priority— especially if you’re holding down a full-time job AND raising a family. BUT…that’s precisely the reason why you should prioritize YOU. It all goes back to the flight attendant’s message upon takeoff “be sure to secure your own mask before assisting others.” If you are not well, how do you expect to bring all of you to your family?

Are you lying to yourself? Watch my latest video to find out!

3 Quick & Healthy Breakfast Plans

Good Greens Smoothie

8 oz. plain skim, soy or almond milk

1 Tbsp. natural unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1/2 scoop RAW protein powder or 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 of a ripe yet firm avocado
1 big handful of kale or spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries
Add milk, cocoa, chia seeds and protein powder to blender and blend. Add rest of ingredients and blend until smooth!

Peanut Butter & Banana Toast

2 slices Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread

1 Tbsp. natural peanut or almond butter (ingredients list should show only nuts and maybe salt)
1 large banana, sliced into coins
Toast bread and spread with nut butter. Top with banana coins.

Apple Pie Oatmeal Bowl

1/2 cup dry oats

6-8 oz. water (for thinner consistency, use more water)
1 small apple, diced with skins on
2 Tbsp. chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans
Dash cinnamon
Add oats, water and apple to microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 90 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir in nuts. Sprinkle with dash of cinnamon.

Tip: If you eat breakfast at work, assemble all ingredients in a ziplock bag then just dump in a bowl and microwave when you get there!

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How to Make Smart Smoothies

April 7th, 2014 | no comments

Smoothies are my all-time favorite way to pack tons of nutrition into one meal. Think about it– how likely are you to sit down with a fork and eat a breakfast of kale, carrots, blueberries and peanut butter and then wash it down with a glass of milk? That’s what I thought! If you’re like most human beings walking the planet, you are crazy-busy and barely have time to squeeze in a shower before running out of the house in the morning. Imagine blending nutritious and delicious foods together and drinking them on your way to work! That’s what I call the best of both worlds– nutrition and convenience wrapped up into one! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive about the best ingredients for a healthy smoothie:

  1. Best liquid base: Milk or juice?
    I vote for milk! Whether it’s skim, soy or almond milk, you’re going to get a healthy dose of bone-building calcium and vitamin D– two nutrients often lacking in the typical American diet.
  2. Best protein source: Protein powder or yogurt?
    Protein powder– but ONLY if it contains no artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose (Splenda). My favorite brand of protein powder is RAW Protein. RAW offers up 17 grams of protein per scoop PLUS 100% of your vitamin D needs, 3 grams of dietary fiber and probiotics (“good bacteria” that keep your gastrointestinal tract nice and healthy). Can’t find a protein powder without artificial sweeteners? Use plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. A couple of heaping spoonfuls should do the trick!
  3. Best sweetener: Agave nectar, sugar, no-calorie sweetener, juice or frozen fruit?
    Go for the frozen fruit…especially berries! Not only does it make for a thicker smoothie, it also serves up a good dose of antioxidants– natural chemicals found in fruits and vegetables that help protect your body against diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  4. Best fiber source: Chia seeds, flaxseeds or oats?
    Ch Ch Ch Chia seeds win here. Per tablespoon, chia seeds have 5 grams of dietary fiber and contain a significant amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Enough said!
  5. True or False? Peanut butter has too many calories and fat grams and should not be added to your smoothie if you’re trying to watch your weight.
    That’s a big fat FALSE! Healthy dietary fat (found in nuts, nut butters, avocados and olive oil) serves a very important function– it helps to keep you full! Is it calorie-rich? Sure…but a small portion (1/2 tablespoon) is all you really need to reap the filling rewards. Trust me on this one! If I neglect to add peanut butter to my smoothie, my hunger most definitely returns much sooner…which means I’m usually digging around in the refrigerator for something else to eat! In the end you wind up eating less when you add small amounts of healthy fat to your meals.

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Why eat fruit every day?

August 23rd, 2013 | no comments

fruitOK, before you say it—“Duh Melanie…this is a no-brainer”let me just say that knowing and doing are two totally different animals. I know you know fruit is good for you, but do you know exactly why? And more importantly, are you eating a couple of pieces every day? If yes…congratulations! If not, you’re missing out on some pretty powerful stuff here!

Fruit is rich in potassium, fiber, folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A). Vitamin C and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants, natural substances in foods that clean up free radicals in your body. We all have free radicals floating around inside our bodies. They are formed as a byproduct of reactions in your cells and also come from cigarette smoke, air pollution and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. In toxic amounts, they cause damage to your body, loss of brain function over time and are believed to be a main contributor to heart disease, certain cancers and Parkinson’s disease. So it’s important to get rid of as many of them as possible. Your body does a pretty good job, but it can’t remove them all. That’s why you need to eat fruits and vegetables every day. Berries have the highest antioxidant power of any fruit, so choose them whenever possible.

How much?

Two cups of fresh or frozen fruit each day is what you should be shooting for. Dried fruit is OK too, but keep in mind that the portion size is smaller due to its higher sugar content and extra calories. One half cup of dried fruit is equivalent to one cup of fresh or frozen.

BEWARE! Banana chips (although yummy indeed!) don’t count as a fruit serving. They are typically deep-fried and coated in sugar or honey, packing a whopping 10 grams of fat (9 saturated) per half-cup serving. Eat a regular banana instead for 0 grams of fat.

5 easy ways to get your fruit!

  1. Make your own trail mix with your favorite dried fruit, nuts and cereal. Figs, apricots, raisins and prunes have the most potassium. Just keep your portions small.
  2. Top your morning bowl of oatmeal with fresh blueberries, blackberries, strawberries or raspberries! Heck, if I have all four on hand, I add a spoonful of each to my oatmeal!
  3. Eat a small banana with a smear of peanut butter for a snack.
  4. Blend your favorite frozen fruit with some plain Greek yogurt and a splash of milk for a refreshing breakfast smoothie! I’ve been adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to mine for extra fiber and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
  5. Pack a container of no-sugar-added applesauce in your lunch!

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5 Quick & Healthy Breakfast-To-Go Ideas

June 6th, 2013 | no comments

If you aren’t a breakfast eater and find that you aren’t hungry in the morning, that’s OK—eat something anyway. You’ve trained yourself to not be hungry and the only way to undo this is by eating. Your body likes consistency and loves to be fed, especially after an eight-hour sleeping fast! This is important on so many levels—especially weight control. If you’re struggling to lose weight and subscribe to the mentality that skipping meals saves calories and therefore aids in weight loss…you are dead wrong! In fact, skipping meals is the quickest way to hold on to excess fat.

Burn fat and feel energized by trying one of these quick and healthy Breakfast-To-Go ideas:

  1. ½ whole grain bagel topped with 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter (Smucker’s) + 1 extra small sliced banana + ½ Tablespoon milled flaxseed
  2. 1/2 cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt topped with 1/4 cup fresh blackberries + 2 Tablespoons of unsalted almonds. Drizzle with a touch of honey!
  3. 1 hard-boiled egg + 13 ‘Mary’s Gone Crackers‘ crackers + 1 small apple
  4. 1 Kashi Honey Almond Flax bar + 1 small cluster of grapes
  5. Homemade trail mix: 1/2 cup of whole grain cereal (Cheerios, Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls) + 2 Tablespoons raisins + 1/8 cup lightly salted peanuts

Remember…if you aren’t hungry in the morning, it’s because you’ve trained yourself to NOT feel hungry. So go ahead and jump on the breakfast bandwagon and jump start your metabolism!

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Sugar Shock!

May 17th, 2013 | no comments

Sugar, sugar everywhere! See just how much is in your favorite foods, along with healthier alternatives!


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3 Protein-packed breakfast cereals

April 2nd, 2012 | no comments

Don’t count on a dinner consisting of a bowl of noodles or rice (whole grain or not) to keep you satisfied for long. Because it’s primarily carbohydrate-based, your body will digest it lickety split and you will be searching for something else to eat within an hour! What’s it missing? Protein!

Protein is essential for contributing to the F-factor— otherwise known as the “fullness factor”. What’s the point of eating if you don’t feel satisfied afterwards? Nothing is worse than walking away from a meal feeling empty and unfulfilled. It’s downright frustrating isn’t it? Rewind to the breakfast you ate this morning. Did it contain protein? If you ate a standard run of the mill breakfast cereal like Corn Flakes, Cheerios or Rice Chex, the answer is very little!  Here are five breakfast cereals that are sure to leave you satisfied, each with 9 grams of protein per serving or more!

Kashi GoLean Cereal:
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 140
Saturated fat: 0 gram
Sodium: 85 mg
Dietary fiber: 10 grams
Protein: 13 grams
You may also want to try: Kashi GoLean Crisp! Toasted Berry Crumble or Kashi GoLean Crisp! Cinnamon Crumble

Optimum Blueberry Cinnamon Flax:
Serving size: 3/4 cup
Calories: 200
Saturated fat: 0 grams
Sodium: 230 mg
Dietary fiber: 9 grams
Protein: 9 grams


Kashi GoLean Truly Vanilla Oatmeal:
Serving size: 1 packet
Calories: 150
Saturated fat: 0 grams
Sodium: 100 mg
Dietary fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 9 grams
You may also want to try: Kashi GoLean Hearty Honey Cinnamon Oatmeal

Here are some other protein-sources you can add to your usual carbo-loaded breakfast to help contribute to the F-factor:

  • 1 Hard-boiled egg: 6 grams
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese: 14 grams
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter: 4 grams
  • 2 vegetarian sausage links: 9 grams
  • 1/2 scoop of protein powder (added to a smoothie): 11 grams

Bottom Line: Whatever you do, don’t skip out on breakfast all together. If you are not used to eating in the morning, start with something small and your body will adjust over time. Remember what your mother always told you—”Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” And she was 100% correct! Darn it…don’t you just hate it when she’s right?


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Followers eat doughnuts, leaders eat oatmeal

March 19th, 2012 | no comments

How many times have you stood with your fellow employees in the office lunch room with a piping hot cup of coffee in one hand and a glazed doughnut in the other?  As you take a bite, you think to yourself:  “I really shouldn’t be eating this, but everyone else is and Mary was nice enough to bring them in.”  What do you think they would say tomorrow if they caught you warming up a packet of instant oatmeal in the microwave instead?  I know what they would say because they have said it to me:  “Gosh you are so good!”  Sorry Mary, it was awfully nice of you to bring in those doughnuts, but if I eat one now, I will crash and burn in an hour.  Of course I don’t expect you to say that, but you can politely refuse and say “thank you, but I’ve already got my breakfast” as you wave the packet of oatmeal proudly in the air like an American flag.

Think about it.  How do you feel after you eat a doughnut or any other sugary, high carbohydrate breakfast pastry?  Do you feel energized, nourished, and ready to take on the world?  My guess is probably not.  That’s because foods that are high in sugar digest pretty rapidly.  They usually lack protein and fiber, which means you’ll be looking for something to eat again soon!  Not fair, right?  You should feel satisfied after eating 220 calories.  I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that friends!  Please understand that I am not suggesting you swear off sugar, just know that you will not get the energy you desire from a sugar-laden meal or snack.  It has the reverse effect in fact!  Sugar is an “energy-robber”.

One glazed doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts costs $0.89 and has 220 calories, 9 grams of fat (4 grams of saturated fat), 31 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.  If you’re looking for  something that will satisfy and energize you, this is exactly the opposite of what you want.  Is it worth it?

For those calories, you could eat 1 packet of prepared instant oatmeal, a sprinkling of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts, a ½ cup of sliced strawberries, and 4 ounces of skim milk.   This breakfast offers 5 times the amount of fiber, three times the amount of protein, and half the amount of sugar!  The real bonus is that you will remain satisfied for a few hours because it contains the perfect balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat.  It is especially important that your breakfast has all three.  If one is missing, you will feel it.  For example, if your breakfast is:

  • Low in carbohydrates = you won’t have the energy to get through the morning
  • Low in protein = you will get hungry within an hour
  • Fat free = you won’t be satisfied and may end up eating a larger portion just to feel full.

You can also make your own “breakfast-to-go” in a zip-lock bag using Old Fashioned Quaker Oatmeal.  I prefer this over instant oatmeal because it has a “meatier” texture and is sodium free.  Here’s what you need:

  • ½ cup dry oat meal
  • ½ cup of sliced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • Sprinkling of cinnamon
  • 1 sandwich size zip-lock bag

Toss all of the ingredients in the zip-lock bag.  When you get to work, empty the contents in a microwavable bowl or large coffee mug, add ½ cup of water and microwave for 1 ½ minutes.

Be the leader in your workplace today!  Take charge of your body and your health.  Eat how you want to feel and you will have them all saying:  “Gosh, you are so good!”

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Best and worst breakfasts at Panera

November 7th, 2011 | no comments

Who doesn’t love Panera? Breakfast, lunch or dinner, you’re sure to find something to tempt your taste buds! From Cinnamon Crunch Bagels to breakfast sandwiches, what’s the best (and not so best) choice for your first meal of the day? Take a look!


Breakfast Power Sandwich with fresh fruit cup
Calories: 400
Fat: 15 grams (34%)
Saturated fat: 7 grams (16%- because of the cheese; ask for no cheese and it drops to 6%)
Sodium: 820 mg (because of the ham and cheese; ask for no cheese and it drops to 670 mg)
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 24 grams

Half of a whole grain bagel with peanut butter and a yogurt parfait
Calories: 570
Fat: 20 grams (32%)
Saturated fat: (9%)
Sodium: 360 mg
Fiber: 8 grams
Protein: 18 grams


Spinach Bacon Egg Souffle
Calories: 570
Fat: 37 grams (58%)
Saturated fat: 20 grams (32%…wow wee!!)
Sodium: 930 mg (yikes!)
Fiber: 2 grams
Protein: 23 grams

Bottom line: Step away from the souffle! Looks can be deceiving…at first glance these little fat bombs look small and harmless, but check out the paper underneath…you can almost see through it!

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Steel Cut vs. Rolled Oats

October 17th, 2011 | no comments

Steel cut or regular oats— which one should you choose? What’s the difference? Is one more nutritious than the other? All very good questions! The first question you should ask yourself is- how much time am I willing to dedicate to preparing my morning bowl of oatmeal? If you’re looking for a quick breakfast, than rolled oats are definitely your best choice—taking a mere 90 seconds to cook in your microwave. If you have 20 minutes to spare and prefer a chewier texture, than steel cut oats it is! Here are some other differences to note:


Steel cut oats are somewhat less processed than rolled oats. The oat groat (inner portion of the oat kernel) is cut into two or three pieces using steel discs. Rolled oats on the other hand, are produced by steaming and rolling the oat groat, resulting in a flatter shape and therefore faster cooking time.

Nutrition & Health Benefits

Both steel cut and rolled oats are considered whole grain, meaning they contain all three layers of the oat grain—the bran, endosperm and germ. Some other benefits shared by the two:

  • Good source of: manganese, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, thiamine, plant-based protein and cholesterol-lowering, blood sugar-stabilizing soluble fiber! All for just 150 calories per serving!
  • Sodium-free
  • May help lower blood pressure
  • Regulates your digestive system (thanks to the fiber)
  • Keep hunger at bay, aiding in weight management (thanks again to the fiber!)
  • As shown by Tufts University researchers, the antioxidants found in oats helps prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, therefore reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease

Not a fan of oats? Perhaps you’re not getting adventurous enough! Try one of these oatmeal topping ideas to see if you change your mind:

  • Half cup of diced apple (with skin on for extra fiber) + 1 teaspoon brown sugar + dash of cinnamon + small handful toasted walnuts
  • One tablespoon peanut butter + 1/2 sliced banana
  • One tablespoon honey + small handful almonds + dash of ginger
  • Half cup of diced pear (with skin on for extra fiber) + two tablespoons raisins + 1/4 cup granola
  • 1/4 cup blackberries + lemon zest + two tablespoons cranberry raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried pineapple + sprinkle of shredded coconut + 8 crushed macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup sliced strawberries + 1/4 cup blueberries + small handful pecans + 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Still not lovin’ oats for breakfast? Try it as a side dish instead! You’ll love this tasty recipe for Three Pepper Oat Pilaf!

The bottom line:
Whether steel cut or rolled, find a way to add more oats to your diet…you owe it to your body!

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Should you eat it? Cream of Wheat Instant Healthy Grain Maple Brown Sugar

March 28th, 2010 | no comments

Only if you like artificial sweeteners.  Last night I sat down with my evening snack as I do every night.  This time it was something new:  Cream of Wheat Instant Healthy Grain Maple Brown Sugar.  Sounds healthy and delicious right?  That’s what I thought too!  The nutrition profile is quite impressive:

Calories: 140;  Fat: 1 gram (no saturated or trans fat);  Carbohydrate:  30 grams;  Fiber:  6 grams;  Protein:  7 grams

Not so impressive was the sodium content at 210 mg

The first bite was creamy yet a bit sweet.  As I took a closer look at the nutrition label, I noticed there was no sugar in it.  That could only mean one thing:  artificial sweetener.  Sure enough, this otherwise healthy cereal is made with sucralose (also known as Splenda).  Splenda has been approved by the FDA and is safe to eat.  I don’t like it personally and find that it has an artificial taste.  If you are looking to save calories and do not prefer artificial sweeteners, just eat less of the “real” thing…sugar.

Would I eat Cream of Wheat Instant Healthy Grain again?  Only if they make it without Splenda.

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