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Prairie Fare: Eating Breakfast May Extend Your Life

Having no time is one of the biggest excuses for skipping breakfast, but there are solutions.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

Every morning I eat my breakfast with four dark brown eyes staring at me. I'm trying to enjoy "the most important meal of the day."

The owners of the eyes lick their lips, making me feel a little guilty. One of them usually whines a little while the other one paces the floor.

Then they start barking and wagging their tails. Before too long, they, too, are enjoying my breakfast.

I'm sure they'd happily trade their bowls of dog food for my peanut butter toast or whatever I happen to be eating.

I thought about solutions. I could put them in a kennel in another room, but I'd miss their company. I could ignore them, but they're persistent little critters. So, I increased my breakfast portions and give them a little treat.

Whether you have breakfast companions or not, enjoy your breakfast. Researchers have studied the benefits of breakfast among children and adults with these findings:

  • Breakfast improves school and work performance. For example, children who skip breakfast have trouble staying on task in school and become tired and irritable.
  • Breakfast improves nutrition. Researchers have shown that children who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their needs for calcium, iron, riboflavin, folic acid, iron, vitamins A and D, and other nutrients. They also eat less fat.
  • Breakfast eaters tend to eat more healthfully all day. Breakfast skippers usually don't make up for the nutrients they missed at breakfast, but they often more than make up for the 300 calories they skipped. Enjoy some protein, such as an egg or peanut butter, to keep you feeling full longer.
  • Eating a healthy breakfast can help you meet your fruit and fiber recommendations. A fiber-rich diet can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Most people shortchange themselves of the 25 or more grams of fiber recommended daily. Fuel yourself with a fiber-rich bowl of whole-grain cereal, such as oatmeal, topped with banana or strawberry slices.
  • Breakfast may prompt a longer life. In one study, people who lived to be 100 or older were more likely to report eating breakfast.

Having no time is one of the biggest excuses for skipping breakfast, but there are solutions.

  • Try setting the table the night before. Put the cereal, bowls, spoons and glasses on the table. Choose whole-grain cereals most often and compare the amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Sweeten cereals naturally by topping with fresh or dried fruit.
  • If you want a heartier breakfast, such as pancakes or muffins, measure the dry ingredients in a bowl the night before. Add the wet ingredients in the morning. Get ready for the day while the muffins bake.
  • When you're in a baking mood, make extra muffins and freeze them. Warm them in the microwave oven.
  • Make a breakfast casserole the evening before and refrigerate. Pop it in the oven in the morning while you get ready for the day.
  • Do you have a minute? Wrap some cheese in a tortilla, microwave 20 seconds and fill cups with orange juice while they're cooking.

Try this novel "kid-friendly" breakfast idea from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Service. It doubles as a healthy snack.

Banana Oatmeal Split

1/3 c. quick-cooking dry oatmeal

1/8 tsp. salt

3/4 c. very hot water

1/2 sliced banana

1/2 c. low-fat frozen yogurt

In a microwave-safe cereal bowl, mix together the oatmeal and salt. Stir in water. Microwave on high power for one minute. Stir. Microwave on high power for another minute. Stir again. Microwave an additional 30 to 60 seconds on high power until the cereal reaches the desired thickness. Stir again. Top with banana slices and frozen yogurt.

Makes one serving. A serving has 150 calories, 1 gram (g) of fat, 30 g of carbohydrate and 4 g of fiber.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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