The Healthy Benefits of Breakfast

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Photo © Edward Bock

Eating a healthy meal in the morning not only kick starts our learning and memory abilities, it also helps us maintain a proper body weight, notes Dr. Carol Greenwood in a new e-book, titled MINDfull.

The book includes more than 100 recipes – some contributed by star Canadian chefs such as Mark McEwan – and is designed to help people maintain a brain-healthy diet. The recipes are paired with a wealth of nutritional information from Dr. Greenwood, a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and Canada’s leading professor of nutrition and brain health.

For the busy home cook, Greenwood and co-authors Daphna Rabinovitch, an award-winning recipe developer and food writer, and Joanna Gryfe, a food and media graduate, provide advice on the best foods to eat throughout the day to keep the brain functioning well.

A nutritious breakfast, for example, not only fuels the brain but research shows that those who start their day this way have a lower body weight and a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those who skip breakfast.

Adopting the breakfast habit is a particularly good way to keep the pounds off after dieting to lose weight, writes Dr. Greenwood.

The best breakfast foods
Foods that are high in protein (like low-fat yogurt) or in low glycemic carbohydrates (whole grain bread, for example) will help you control your appetite and your weight, Dr. Greenwood notes. The Glycemic Index (or GI) measures the effects of carbs on blood glucose levels, and is a good tool for knowing which carbohydrate foods to either select or avoid. In general, you will want to consume foods that are within the low-to-medium GI range and eat high GI foods only in moderation, Dr. Greenwood advises. “For example, whole grains have a lower GI value than processed grains. In general, the more “processed” a food, the higher the GI value.”

MINDfull RECIPE: Breakfast Burritos
By vegetarian cookbook author Nettie Cronish

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves 8

1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chopped dried apple or mango
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup apple juice
1 cardamom pod, cracked, or 1 small cinnamon stick
1 can (14 oz/398 mL) pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp. salt
4 ten-inch tortillas (whole wheat, corn, sprouted, unbleached, flax or pesto)
1/4 cup salsa and/or grated cheddar cheese (optional)

In a saucepan, combine apricots, apples, cranberries, apple juice and cardamom. Heat over low heat for 5 minutes.

Add beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, and stir often for about 10 minutes or until liquid has almost evaporated. Discard cardamom. Add salt.

In a skillet, warm each tortilla over medium heat for 2 minutes, turning once.

Place ½ cup of the filling down the centre of each tortilla, leaving about a 1-inch border at bottom and top. Fold bottom edge over filling; fold sides over. Roll up from bottom.

Slice each tortilla in half. Serve at room temperature.

For extra kick, add 1 tbsp. salsa and/or grated cheese overtop each burrito. Transfer burritos to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 300˚F oven for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 180; Protein 6 g; Carbohydrate 36 g (12% daily value); Fat, total 2 g (3% daily value); Fat, saturated 0.5 g (3% daily value); Fat, trans 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Fibre 6 g (24% daily value); Sodium 330 mg (14 % daily value).

Courtesy of Baycrest, the global leader in innovations, research and breakthroughs for the journey of aging.