Start the day with a protein-filled morning

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Now that we have gotten past the feasting that comes with the holidays, are you struggling to get back to some normalcy in your eating plan? With a family birthday in January plus a recent weekend getaway in the desert, it seems I haven’t gotten out of feast mode until this week.

What is one of the best ways to get back to eating sensibly in the new year? According to Heather Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, an important thing you should do is eat breakfast. And make sure it has lots of protein.

Growing up in the 1970s, I ate breakfast before catching the school bus and it was all about the cereal. Sugar Smacks, Super Sugar Crisp, Count Chocula and Sugar Corn Pops were all favorites of mine. I’m not gonna lie; they were all delicious. And so was the sugary milk that was left behind in the bowl.

With no protein to be found in any of these breakfast cereals, it’s a wonder that I survived school until the lunch break. Looking back, I can’t believe my mom bought these cereals for me and my brother, but nutrition awareness has come a long way in 40 years. I doubt she would buy them if we were kids growing up today.

We now know that a high protein breakfast has several benefits. Based on her research at “U of Mizzou,” Professor Leidy found that those who ate a high protein breakfast were less hungry the remainder of the day than those who did not. Satiety and a feeling of fullness keep the munchies at bay. Because a high protein breakfast fuels your metabolism, you also burn calories at a higher rate the rest of the day.

Another benefit of a protein-filled breakfast is that you are more likely to make better food choices throughout the rest of the day. Leidy found that those who did not eat breakfast ate fewer fruits and vegetables, contributing to a lack of nutrients and fiber in the diet.

The last, and perhaps the most important, benefit Leidy highlighted was a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease among those who ate a high protein breakfast. For those who don’t eat breakfast at all, there is the risk of becoming insulin resistant, which is associated with an increased risk for diabetes. This chronic condition can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Quality protein choices like eggs, lean meats, low-fat milk and yogurt and plant-based protein powder all make for good breakfast fixings. This week’s recipe includes eggs and can be tweaked to suit your family’s dietary needs and tastes.

These egg bakes are 126 calories per serving with 10 grams of protein. I found it easy to double the recipe to have a protein-filled breakfast ready and available for the remainder of the week.


Photo by Betty Williams

Mini Bacon and Egg Bakes

Serves:

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices bacon (pork or turkey)
  • 9 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 to 3 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (3  oz. of dairy or non-dairy cheese)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Roma tomato, cut into 12 slices

Directions:

Spray regular size (2-inch) muffin tin with non-stick spray oil and set aside. Cook bacon in a large skillet until it starts to brown but is still pliable, not crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain bacon on paper towels until cool to the touch. Curl one slice of bacon around the inside edge of each muffin cup.

Whisk together eggs, milk, spinach, garlic, cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Pour egg mixture evenly among prepared muffin cups. At this point, you can cover and chill overnight to bake the next morning. Alternatively, you can bake this right away by topping each muffin with a tomato slice. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until eggs are set and puffy. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Eggs may deflate slightly as muffins cool. Using a knife, loosen the sides of the muffins and remove from muffin tin. Serve warm.

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