Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blueberries and Breakfast

I am a breakfast lover. In fact it is by far my favorite meal of the day. I love yogurt, berries, toast with peanut butter, eggs over easy, omelets, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, whole grain cereal, dried fruit etc, etc. I grew up eating breakfast every day before school. There was a (very frustrating in my parents opinion I am sure) time during high school years where I refused many breakfast foods, especially cereal with milk because “I could taste the grass that the cows were eating.” Many early morning minutes were spent arguing about the taste of the milk with my parents. Now, I look forward to my morning cup of coffee and delicious breakfast. I do not like being rushed in the morning, so I set aside a few minutes for breakfast and coffee every morning before I take my dog Jake for a walk.

My husband on the other hand, although he enjoys breakfast foods, he does not enjoy getting up in enough time to eat breakfast before work. Usually he scrambles out the door with minutes (or negative minutes) to spare and does not eat breakfast. As a good wife, and as a dietitian, knowing the benefits of a good breakfast, I have taken it upon myself to provide him with some type of breakfast he can take to work. This has been interesting (see rhubarb bread in my previous post) and most mornings it is just a banana and some almonds, toast, or some yogurt. Yesterday I came across a smokin' deal and I bought two pounds! I decided to use some for blueberry muffins. Usually, I ration fresh blueberries very carefully because 1. they are my favorite fruit, 2. they are a seasonal food, 3. they can be expensive. A handful in my oatmeal or yogurt or in our pancake batter on the weekends is my typical use (besides sneaking a few when I open the fridge). But, I decided to give some up for the greater good of my husband’s breakfast!

I adapted this muffin recipe from BHG. There was a ripe banana in the freezer, so I added that to the batter for extra moisture and flavor. I also added some whole wheat flour for more nutrition. I have been experimenting with using ground flax lately, so I added a few tablespoons to this as well. Flax seeds have become popular in the past several years, but I often hear misconceptions about them from my patients. Flax comes in several forms- usually oil, whole seeds, or ground. Flax has been promoted as a good omega-3 source. Omega-3 oils are heart-healthy fats that help reduce inflammation in the body and are very beneficial for blood pressure, heart health (reduce triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol) and are being used as a treatment for depression. Flax seeds contain the plant form of omega-3 oils (a-linolenic acid (ALA)). Unlike the omega-3 oil in fish (EPA & DHA), ALA must be converted to a form that can be used by the body. Usually less than 5% of ALA is converted a form the body can use as omega-3. So, all of that to say, flax oil or seeds are really not a good source of omega-3 fat.

However, they still have other excellent nutritional qualities. I usually recommend ground flax seeds because the whole seeds pass through the body undigested, meaning one will not absorb all of the nutrition from them. Two tablespoons of ground flax contains 70 calories, 3g of protein, and 3g of dietary fiber. Ground flax is a great source of fiber which helps lower cholesterol, keeps blood sugar stable, regulates the digestive system and promotes satiety. Ground flax is also a good source of protein which will also help keep you full longer between meals. It adds a nutty texture and flavor to yogurt and oatmeal, easy to add to smoothies, and works great in a lot of baked goods. I do recommend keeping it in the refrigerator or freezer however once it is ground. Because of it’s high fat content, it can go rancid quickly if left at room temperature. Substitute any type of berries or add some nuts for even more nutrition, texture and flavor. Enjoy!

Healthy Start Blueberry Muffins

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup unbleached white flour

1 cup oats

4 tablespoons ground flax

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons baking soda

pinch of salt

1 beaten egg

1 ripe banana, mushed

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons Canola or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup fresh blueberries

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups or line them with paper bake cups; set aside.

2. Stir together flours, flax, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

3. Combine egg, banana, milk, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla in another bowl. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Fold blueberries into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each three-quarters full.

4. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 15 minutes.

Per Muffin: 160 calories, 4g total fat, .5g sat. fat, og trans fat, 16mg cholesterol, 112mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 8g sugar, 4g protein

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