The Daily Beet

23 Jan Guest post (Q&A) by Lani Muelrath! All about breakfast.

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Lani is a regular guest contributor to the Engine 2 blog, and has helped a lot of you! If you have a question you’d like Lani to tackle, just leave it in the comments!

Question of the day:

What’s for breakfast? Q & A with Plant-Based Fitness Expert Lani Muelrath

Seabrook asks:  Lani, what are you doing for breakfast?

Ah, a question with few words yet mighty impact!  Breakfast matters big time.

My go-to breakfast Seabrook is hot wholegrain cereal with fruit and a sprinkle of flax seed.  Sometimes cinnamon.  This is breakfast for me 99% of the time.  On occasion I’ll have waffles or hotcakes, or potatoes in some form.  That doesn’t mean you can’t get uber creative with your first meal of the day.  Just be sure it’s got some of this good stuff goin’ on:

3 elements of the good breakfast, aka a ‘gusto brekkie’

1)  It’s jammed  with whole food fiber.

Satiety is a function of bulk and nutrition. (See The 3 Rules of Satiety:  Becoming Naturally Thin).

  • Whole grain cereal, rolled oats, rice cream, quinoa, whole brown rice, 9-grain cereal.  Mix ‘em up.  Let your imagination go wild.  Soak ‘em the night before or cook them up in the a.m.  Eat ‘em cold as leftovers.  Heap fruit on top.  Sprinkle on some flax seed or chopped walnuts on top for an omega 3 hit.
  • Breakfast burritos: Whole grain or sprouted tortilla shells or chapati jammed with beans, rice, salsa.
  • Soup: vegetable soup with whole grains, pasta, and legumes.  Lentil soup.  Some people just don’t like “breakfast” foods.  Foods don’t inherently have a time of day, it’s just what we’re used to.  This is probably why I love pinto beans and tortillas for breakfast when traveling in Mexico, but just can’t pull it off once I’m back in the mountains in Northern California.  Go figure.
  • Wholegrain pancakes, waffles, and good grainy breads.  Operative is whole grain, not partial whole grain or “wheat flour” which can be as processed and refined as they come.   Use a little nut butter and jam.  Have a bowl of fruit.
  • Potatoes:  hash browns or any other form you like!

2)  It’s low in fat

Here’s the thing. All plant foods have fat in them, even though we may not think of it that way.  As a matter of fact, even with NO added expelled oils and high fat foods through the day, we easily consume about 10% fat in our diets.  Add in some high fat foods and that percentage can jump fast. As in all meals throughout the day, to stay slim and energized, we are looking for low calorie density.  That means volumes of fibrous food with low calorie count per pound of same.

3)  It’s got some color

This is a great time of the day for fruit.  The whole kind, avoid juices which bump up the calorie density and have no impact, research shows, on satiety. You can do this with fruit on the top or side of whatever else you are having.

A quality breakfast stabilizes your energy for the entire day, even affecting blood sugar responses after meals that take place hours later.  And an extra word of precaution.  If you aren’t hungry first thing in the morning and end up dashing out the door before you’ve fueled up, take some high quality eats with you!  What you have is what you’ll eat and if you head out into the big beautiful world without being prepared with good fuel to eat, when hunger hits – as it eventually will – what you have is what you’ll eat.  And if you don’t have it with you, well, it’s risky business!

Tell us about YOUR ‘gusto brekkie’ solutions in comments below.

Thanks again Lani! If you’d like to see some of Lani’s work and check out her great fitness programs, check out her website: http://lanimuelrath.com/

Lani Muelrath is a plant-strong fitness expert! Lani is the creator of The Body Transformation Formula and Fit Quickies™ 5 Minute Workouts. She has a Master’s Degree in Physical Education and over 30 years of experience as a teacher, coach, and trainer. She has received awards for her instruction, created and starred in her own CBS TV Show, and her expertise in the area of health and fitness is called upon by examiner.com, as Fitness Expert for Dr. John McDougall’s Health and Medical Center, coach, Dr. Neal Barnard’s 21-Day Kickstart program, and Health and Fitness Lifestyle Expert for Vegan Mainstream.com. She is Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University.

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Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • wendy (healthy girls kitchen)
    Posted at 05:32h, 23 January

    Lani and Co,

    I just happened to do a post last night on Vegan Overnight Oats. Here’s an example: http://healthygirlskitchen.blogspot.com/2012/01/chocolate-cherry-overnight-oats.html

    I’m wondering what you think of that as a breakfast?


    • Lani Muelrath, the Plant-Based Fitness Expert
      Posted at 09:31h, 23 January

      Hey Wendy, this looks absolutely yummy. What an invention! And I don’t think it looks ‘strange’ at all! Cherries make anything a clear winner (smart!) and a good compliment to the oats.

      You asked for feedback so here are a couple of observations:

      1) Flax seed squeaks ahead of chia on omega 3’s:
      According to the USDA SR 21 (the only accepted source for Nutritional Analysis)

      Chia Seed (USDA 12006) 28.35 grams has 5 grams of Omega 3s
      Flax Seed, (USDA 12220) 28.35 grams has 6.5 grams of Omega 3s

      So if we look at them per “gram”, clearly, the flax seed has more omega 3s

      Looking at nutrient analysis per calories:

      Chia Seed (USDA 12006), 147 calories has 5.3 grams of Omega 3s
      Flax Seed, (USDA 12220), 147 calories has 6.3 grams of Omega 3s

      This makes flax seed the winner yet don’t throw out the chias! If you like ’em and have got ’em, by all means…

      2) In a pinch, smoothies may work on occasion yet as a regular event contribute too much calorie density without fiber intact. More in this article linked above: To smoothie or not to smoothie? The skinny on blending your fruits and greens. http://www.lanimuelrath.com/weight-loss/to-smoothie-or-not-to-smoothie-the-skinny-on-blending-your-fruits-and-greens/

      Plant-based milks also contribute calories without the fiber benefit, as does the protein powder.

      Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats looks like a yummy occasional dessert, and perhaps a breakfast alternative if you don’t have weight considerations.

      What about leaving out the protein powder and using just a splash of milk, and leaving this unblended as a chunky yummy big bowl?

      • wendy (healthy girl's kitchen)
        Posted at 11:51h, 23 January

        I don’t actually use a protein powder, it’s a green powder with a chocolate flavor made by a company called Amazing Grass. 1/4 of a scoop is a very small amount.

        I totally agree with you, it is a dessert! And a breakfast if you are very active. Part of the allure is the parfait-ness of it with the frozen creamy banana/cherry layer as a contrast to the overnight oat layer. I don’t know if I would love it as much without the whipped frozen banana.

        I think it would make a good lunch or dinner occassionally if you are not in the mood to cook.

  • Rosemary Evergreen
    Posted at 07:02h, 23 January

    A favorite breakfast of mine is roasted sweet potato, mashed and topped with a little cinnamon and a few walnuts or hazelnuts.

    • Lani Muelrath, the Plant-Based Fitness Expert
      Posted at 09:33h, 23 January

      Rosemary, sweet potatoes are a smart choice any time of the day and what a perfect brekkie as they are naturally so sweet. I hadn’t thought of cinnamon on them! How do you mash them – with a potato masher?

      • Rosemary Evergreen
        Posted at 09:50h, 23 January

        I just use a fork. After roasting, they are very soft. I usually roast enough for several days and keep them in the fridge. Also great for adding more flavor or thickening power to soup, stew, chili.

  • Lynnette
    Posted at 12:17h, 23 January

    My go to breakfast is baked oatmeal. Mix oatmeal, applesauce, fruit (fresh or frozen), and in boiling water (only 1/2 as much, because the applesauce provides liquid), add in flax meal, steel cut oats, cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger as the mood strikes and BAKE ~350-375F for 20minutes or so. I toss it together and go get dressed while it cooks. Top with grapenuts or chopped nuts for some crunch. Enjoy as-is, or with a little almond milk added.

    • Lani Muelrath, the Plant-Based Fitness Expert
      Posted at 12:46h, 23 January

      Lynnette, is the oatmeal all cooked before you bake it? Are you baking it so you can take it on the road as bars? Yet it sounds like you are eating it right away. So is the purpose of the oven bake because it’s yummers?


      • Lynnette
        Posted at 13:10h, 23 January

        The oatmeal is not baked first. It is regular old rolled oats. The baking is to cook it. I am trying to avoid microwaving when possible as it is not preferable for food. And with oatmeal, it tends to “explode” on me. I don’t have time to stand around the stove in the morning. So I mix it all up, toss it in the oven and go get dressed. My husband likes it more watery and I like mine thicker. I adjust water accordingly. With less water it does become thicker when cooked this way. I do it all in individual bowls- can mix fruit to taste. I usually wrap mine in a dish towel because it is hot & eat it on the way to work. The applesauce cooks in & makes the oatmeal extra good.

  • Mary Jo Leach
    Posted at 09:33h, 25 January

    Hi Lani,

    I am rather new at all this and I accidently ran across your blog. Sounds like something that will help me along. I have many questions. My first question would be, “How do I make a salad dressing that me and my husband would like?” Sadly I am used to sweet, french style dressings, and my husband likes ranch or blue cheese. Neither of us like vinigar taste. We are trying to keep it plant based, dairy free, salt free, sugar free and fat free. You can see we do not have many choices. Can you help us?

  • Lani Muelrath (Plant-based health & fitness expert)
    Posted at 18:52h, 25 January

    Hey Mary Jo, sorry to be late in getting around to your post but we’re traveling and the morning of the day we left my hard drive crashed hard and I had to ship it off into the wild blue yonder. Needless to say it’s been challenging to stay up with anything internet!

    When we’re used to those creamy dressings let’s face it, there’s going to be some re-alimentation to do to change your salad tastes. But trust me, a little time spent on this shift and before long heavy dressings and oily topings just seem like – well, heavy oil additions. The trick is fining transitions while at the same time having a pro-active mindset about creating lighter tastes.

    There are a couple of things I have found that really work for me. I’d love to share them with you so tell you what – as I’m in transit in the tropics with only a few minutes at computer right now, I’ll elaborate on your question asap, OK? A great topic for next week’s Q and A if I may!

    So glad you ‘found’ me accidentally. Nice to meet you!

    Stay tuned,

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 17:19h, 29 January

    I make bean biscuits for breakfast–garbanzo bean flour, oat bran, baking powder, cream of tartar, water, and some olive oil. It probably doesn’t meet all of your excellent requirements with the olive oil, but I found it’s a filling way to get some beans in first thing in the morning.

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