The Breakfast Makeover

29 09 2010

I tend to pay attention to my breakfast. Not only is it generally considered the most important meal of the day, but it’s oftentimes the easiest to switch up when you’re trying to make small changes. Today, I decided to explain to you a recent makeover in my breakfasting habits.

For the longest time, my breakfast consisted of a bagel with cream cheese, and a cup of coffee heavy on the flavored creamer. It was for the most part filling. Bagels are a big favorite of mine, and I have a real soft spot for the Thomas’ Everything Bagels. I also have a big soft spot for Dunkin Donuts coffee… but by the time I’m done adding my creamer, it tastes more like coffee-flavored cinnamon than the other way around.

Now, I don’t generally count calories… I tend to just stick with fresher, healthier ingredients and let the chips fall where they may. For the sake of the exercise, however, I will include the numbers to show how they compare by the books. I calculated the nutrition totals for this breakfast, and they look like this:

  • 1 Thomas’ Everything Bagel: 300 cal, 4g fat, 7g sugar, and 12 g protein.
  • 1 oz (and I probably use more) Philadelphia Cream Cheese: 100 cal, 9g fat, 1g sugar, and 2 g protein.
  • 2 Tbsp International Delight Caribbean Cinnamon Crème Coffee Creamer: 90 cal, 4g fat, 12g sugar, and 0g protein.

This all totals out to 490 cal, 17g fat, 20g sugar, and 14g protein. Some would say that’s not that bad… but we’ll look at my made-over breakfast:

Raspberry-Peach Breakfast Parfait

  • 1 c. Fat-Free Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/2c. Raspberries (I thaw frozen ones in the microwave to make it cheaper)
  • ½ of 1 large peach (or perhaps one whole small one)
  • 1/3 c. Millvale Fiber Cereal (purchased at Aldi)
  • One bag of delicious Egyptian Licorice Yogi Tea
  • Approx. ½ tbsp of Agave Nectar (for the tea)

The parfait is incredibly simple to assemble. From my photo, you can see I tried to get all fancy with it—making it pretty and all. One half of the yogurt, then add fruit, then other half of yogurt, and top off with the cereal. You can really just throw it all into a bowl—it’s going to taste the same no matter what. You can also play with the ratios a bit. I found that one whole cup of that yogurt was a lot for me, I could have opted for more cereal. But regardless, the main ingredients are where it counts—and watching portions. I tend not to measure always, but in the beginnings of a diet plan to get a better idea of portions, I will.

So how do the nutrition facts balance out here?

  • ½ c. raspberries: 30 cal, 0g fat, 3.5g sugar, and 1g protein.
  • 1 c. yogurt: 140 cal, 0g fat, 18g sugar, and 8g protein.
  • ½ large peach: 30.5 cal, 0.25g fat, 6.6g sugar, and 0.7g protein.
  • 1/3 c. cereal: 63.3 cal, 0.5 g fat, 1 g sugar, and 6.5g protein.
  • ½ tbsp. Agave Nectar: 30 cal, 0 g fat, 7.5g sugar, and 0g protein.

It all balances out to 294 calories, 0.75g fat, 36.6g sugar, and 16.2 g protein.

So by the numbers, the parfait has less calories, much less fat, a bit more sugar, and a bit more protein. The thing is, though, that the numbers aren’t the only factors to take into consideration. While the sugar content is higher in the parfait, that sugar is coming from fruit sources—which is far better than the refined sugar derived from the coffee creamer. Certainly the yogurt has some refined sugar (and plain non-fat yogurt would be even better here, but it’ll also be a bit blander). The Agave nectar contributes sugar, but it is lower on the glycemic index than refined sugar as well—and I don’t have to use as much sweetener in my tea as I do my coffee.

Beyond the sugar, the parfait offers a great boost in dietary fiber (from the cereal), antioxidants (from the raspberries), less empty carbs (from the bagel), and a greater amount of protein. I would also say that it’s more filling than the bagel. The tea was herbal, so I don’t get the caffeine fix that I would get from the coffee, but I actually have become less dependent on the coffee—because my breakfast is more energizing. Aside from cutting up the peach, there is no real prep work involved, and it’s delicious.

Expensive? Not even. I purchased the majority of the ingredients at Aldi—the most expensive being the frozen raspberries for $2.89/bag. That bag will last me a minimum of 2 weeks.

I think the craziest thing is that I saved so many calories, fat, and sugar just from switching from coffee to tea every morning. Not to say I never have coffee anymore (that would be a travesty)—but I only indulge once or twice a week. By switching the other five days, I save 300 calories, 20g fat, and 22.5g sugar per week. You know, sometimes it’s about the little things…

Happy Breakfasting!

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