Breakfast Staples: Save Calories and Time at Home
I’m a sucker for a hearty breakfast. In my childhood, I woke to the sound of eggs cracking and breakfast potatoes sizzling, so I understand the need for a filling meal to start the day. The trouble is, many of us don’t have the time or energy to cook in the morning. But you may want to rethink your motivations. If you could save time, money, and calories by making your own breakfast, would you carve out a few more minutes in the kitchen? We hope so. Even if it’s an every other day commitment, making breakfast at home could be the key to keeping your calories in check.
McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal carries a nutritional value similar to a Snickers bar. Aside from the 5 grams of fiber and 4.5 grams of fat, the 290 calories, 57 grams of carbs (32 grams of which is sugar) as well as the light cream (yes cream, not milk), make it a treat, rather than a healthy breakfast choice. Instead, buy rolled oats and add skim milk or soymilk. Instead of the dried fruit, add fresh fruits such as blueberries or an apple. You could save upwards of 100 calories, 31 grams of sugar, and a little over a dollar if you made the meal at home. If you make a batch one time a week, and make a cup each day in the microwave, you’ll only need an additional minute on workdays. If you like Starbucks’ “Perfect Oatmeal” you’ll be eyeing 390 calories if you add all the toppings they give you. In addition to the 140 calories in one serving of their oatmeal, the brown sugar (50 calories), nut topping (100 calories), and dried fruit topping (100 calories) can really add up. For about the same amount of calories, you could have two hard-boiled eggs (156 calories), a 1/2 cup oatmeal (83 calories), a cup of strawberries (48 calories) and an ounce of cheddar cheese (114 calories) for breakfast at home. Jamba Juice’ Steel-Cut Oatmeal served plain with the added brown sugar is 220 calories with no added fruit or nut toppings.
Subway’s Sunrise Subway Melt clocks in at 470 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 1590 mg of sodium. You could make your own egg and cheese sandwich at home. Take one slice of 100% whole wheat toast cut in half (50 calories), one fried egg (90 calories), and a slice of low-fat cheddar cheese (48 calories). That’s just below 200 calories. Add a slice of tomato and other fresh veggies to rev up the nutritional value. You’ll save about two dollars making this at home as opposed to buying it at Subway. In the way of time, because most Subways do not have a drive thru, the time it will take to park and wait for your made-to-order sandwich to be made could be used eating at your kitchen table. A good option while out is Dunkin’ Donuts’ Egg White Turkey Sausage Flatbread Sandwich. While the sodium content is also high, at 770 mg, 280 calories and just 8 grams of fat is reasonable.
Another breakfast staple, pancakes, really adds up when you are eating out. Each small pancake made at home could account for around 160 calories. That's not counting the butter, margarine or syrup many of us add on top or the oil or milk, pancake mix may call for. To keep the calorie count in check, add fresh fruit instead of butter or make a fruit compote of berries with a splash of orange juice as a syrup. So you know, just two pancakes at Denny's will cost you 330 calories, 4 grams of fat and 1170 mg of sodium. At IHOP, you're looking at 490 calories for three pancakes. If you go for these, save 100 calories just by asking that the tablespoon of butter be left off of your plate. Just a tablespoon of syrup is almost 50 calories and 12 grams of sugar. If you choose to have syrup, instead of pouring it directly on your pancakes, ask for a separate small container. On another note, unless you specifically purchase maple syrup, it is largely a thing of the past. A quick glance of the ingredients reveals high fructose corn syrup on many familiar brands' touting maple flavored syrup.
Now that you're counting calories, what constitutes a hearty, but healthy breakfast for you?