Breakfast: To Eat or Not To Eat

Monday July 15, 2013

We’ve all been told by our mothers at a very early age that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that you should eat breakfast every day.  But too many times, we find ourselves rushing out the door with nothing more than a cup of coffee.  Why have we not listened to our moms?

Eating breakfast daily sets us up for healthy eating the rest of the day.  If we skip breakfast, we are more likely to overeat at other meals of the day.  Also, we want to avoid high sugar options and include some protein in our breakfast meal.  Straight carbohydrates causes us to have a rush of blood sugar, then a rapid drop, which leaves us looking for more food.

Here are 5 of the best options for your day started on a healthy note.

  • Oatmeal:  loaded with fiber, omega-3s, and B-vitamins, a must for lowering cholesterol and for feeling full throughout the morning.  Add bananas or fresh berries to avoid adding sugar to sweeten.  Extra benefit:  add wheat germ and ground flaxseed to increase protein, heart healthy fats, and fiber.
  • Greek yogurt:  with twice as much protein as regular yogurt, you will stay full all morning long.  Find a plain one with no fat and add your own fruit and low fat granola to add crunch.
  • Almond butter:  with slightly less saturated fat as peanut butter, this is an excellent option for heart healthy fats and protein.  Put it on a whole grain mini bagel to give you the energy to get through your morning.
  • Eggs:  no longer a taboo food, eggs provide you with protein and vitamin D.  Aim for one yolk per day or no more than 7 per week to keep dietary cholesterol in check.
  • Coffee:  no need to leave your coffee at the door.  Studies show that drinking coffee can actually help you prevent diseases, such as diabetes.  Caffeine and antioxidants are abundant in your cup of joe.  Be cautious of the added sugars and fat though.  Stick to skim milk and sugar substitutes if you want to sweeten it.

For more information about Nutrition Services at the UNC Wellness Centers, contact the dietitians at the appropriate location.

Fruit and Nut Breakfast Bars



  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup whole Madiool dates (about 5), halved and pitted
  • 1 cup whole raw almonds with skins
  • ½ cup dried apricots
  • ¼ cup dried plums (prunes)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 300’.  Pour orange juice over dates and let soak about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place almonds, dried apricots, and dried plums in a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.  Add salt and dates with orange juice and pulse until mixture starts to stick together.  Add pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, pulsing a few times just to incorporate.
  3. Using wet hands, scoop mixture onto a work surface and form into a log about  1 ¾ inch wide and ½ inch thick.  Use your palms to flatten into a bar, and cut bar into 8 equal pieces.
  4. Arrange pieces about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake 8 minutes.  Using a heatproof spatula, turn bars over and bake another 8 minutes, or until nuts are toasted (but before fruit begins to burn).  Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.