My Favorite Healthy Breakfast Recipes

Last week during a work happy hour, a co-worker who is getting married in six weeks asked me how she can lose 10 pounds before the big day. While I am neither a dietitian nor a personal trainer, I spent the next thirty minutes sharing with her a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years.

Since she and the other co-workers continued to ask me questions for the duration of our happy hour, I thought it was only kind of me to share the discussion with you guys.

Over the next few weeks, I am creating posts inspired by the questions asked during the conversation. Some of them may be more basic and less relevant for readers who are already practicing a healthy, balanced lifestyle. But, for others, I hope that these tips, tricks, workouts and recipes will serve as inspiration to improve even just one aspect of your day.

As you know, my goal is to inspire each one of you to lead healthier, happier lives regardless of your stress levels, commitments or daily life demands.

Today’s focus is BREAKFAST.

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Now, I’ve never been one of those girls who can survive on water and coffee alone until taking a lunch break. While I know many people who just “aren’t breakfast people” I am not one of them. Growing up, my parents never let us leave the house without eating breakfast. Over the years this meal evolved from milk and cereal to toaster strudels and Jimmy Dean sandwiches until finally circling back to the balanced, healthy meal of oatmeal or eggs. In fact, eating a healthy breakfast makes me feel like SuperWoman the rest of the day.

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Not on team breakfast yet? Maybe these facts will convince you.

  • Breakfast eaters tend to have better diets overall, consuming more fruit, vegetables, milk, and whole grains than non-breakfast eaters. (Consumer Reports)
  • Studies show that breakfast can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight. (Johns Hopkins)
  • Breakfast needs healthy protein and fat in order to satiate you and stabilize your mood and cravings. (AnnetheRD)

A creature of habit, over the past ten years, since taking charge of my health, I rotate through the same four breakfasts depending on the season, my workout schedule or mood. Similar to my workout habits, my breakfasts have evolved for the better over the past year. I’ve spiced up each of the breakfasts to have a bit more staying power, nutritional punch and flavor by adding protein sources, fruit and spices. Gone are the packs of Quaker Oats Weight Control oatmeal, of which the banana nut flavor was a favorite during my Weight Watcher weight loss era from 2005-2007. Friends and resources like Anne have helped me understand the importance of being able to pronounce each ingredient. I don’t need to buy prepackaged oatmeal with many unknown ingredients. Instead, I can save money and eat healthier by making my own oatmeal concoction, inspired by seasonal flavors.

quaker oats nutrition facts

Below, you’ll find a round-up of my favorite healthy breakfast recipes for each of my four breakfast rotations.

Healthy Breakfast Round-Up

Oatmeal/Quinoa/Chia

Smoothie

Eggs

Yogurt Bowl

How about you? What is your favorite breakfast? 

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The Perfect Weekend Combination

Man did we need this weekend more than we realized. There wasn’t one aspect of the weekend that made it stand out but instead, the overall combination of the 48 hours. There was a perfect mix of relaxation, fun, productivity, workouts and sleep!

After a manicure & pedicure, I headed home to spend the evening on the couch catching up on our favorite shows while sipping our way through a bottle of Italian Valpolicella wine and a lamb dish which I’ve already requested be repeated.

braised lamb

Saturday morning I headed out for a much-needed solo run. As I mentioned in last week’s training recap, my training has felt out of sorts due to illness. I needed a run to clear my mind and build some confidence. Luckily Geneva delivered sunshine, blue sky and empty running paths for Saturday morning’s run. I was feeling so strong after the run that I ended up running two more miles later in the day.

Running in Geneva

Bo and I then had some fun in the kitchen together, whipping up a new breakfast recipe, whole wheat protein pancakes. Filled with protein, these were fluffier than I expected and the perfect healthy breakfast option for weekends or weekdays. Next time I want to try adding blueberries or bananas to the batter!

Whole wheat protein pancakes

With these pancakes to serve as fuel, we turned on a fun playlist and spent the next five hours deep cleaning our apartment. We’re talking vacuuming and mopping under furniture, dusting, and organizing until dripping with sweat. Deep cleaning is hard work, but so gratifying afterward!

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Our reward for the hard work was a double date with Lauren and Ryan. Most of our friends were out of town this weekend due to the recent snowfall, so it was a pure last minute coincidence that we both found ourselves in Geneva with no plans Saturday night. Lauren and I enjoyed introducing our gentlemen to Kytaly, an Italian restaurant that recently opened in Geneva.

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Since Saturday was plenty productive, our goal for Sunday was to relax. We didn’t set an alarm, we didn’t change out of pajamas until our afternoon workout, and we didn’t leave the house all day. I finished the final 100 pages in Big Little Lies in between sips of a homemade cinnamon latte. I loved all the twists and turns in the book. We peeled ourselves off the couch later in the afternoon for two back to back DailyBurn workouts, Inferno Power and 5/10 in Nine, for a total of 45 minutes of moves that left us super sweaty and VERY sore!

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We cooked together Sunday  night, experimenting with kale and making a great dinner including this warm kale salad and roasted cauliflower. Last but not least, we ended the weekend watching Birdman on the couch. Birdman was, how do I say it, interesting and deserving of many awards but not exactly my type of movie.

Oh well. Luckily the rest of the weekend was better than those two hours. This weekend was the perfect combination of what we needed before lots of travel!

How was your weekend?

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Cooking with Bo: Beef “Fried Rice”

I know that it’s been too long since I’ve posted a recipe. I apologize. Today, I’ll give you my recipe for healthy “fried rice” (spoiler alert – there actually isn’t any rice in this recipe).

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The first thing I would note is that this recipe is definitely not the only thing one can do with faux rice. The following recipe happens to be a fried rice dish with Japanese / pan-Asian flavors but one can do a number of things with this technique as inspiration; for example, this morning I also made a vegetarian Indian dish with the leftover ingredients.

Ingredients

For the Marinade:

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¼ Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce

¼ Cup Sake

¼ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar

¼ Cup Mirin

½ Cup Vegetable or grape seed oil (DO NOT use EVOO as it is not a flavorless oil and the fresh olive flavor doesn’t really fit with Asian cooking)

2 Garlic Cloves (minced or you can use a garlic press)

Half a small white onion (grated)

1 Tbsp of fresh ginger (grated)

A Note on Grated Onions and Ginger:

I recently began grating rather than mincing ginger as I find the texture much more appealing especially when the ginger ends up in the final dish rather than just the marinade. You can use the smallest side of a box-grater, but a fine plane-grater is much better. As far as the onions go, for a marinade, this simply releases more flavor although mincing is generally fine too.

For the Stir Fry:

Vegetable or grape seed oil for cooking (same comment, DO NOT use EVOO)

~2 lbs of beef in smallish cubes (your choice on cut – sirloin keeps the cost down though this does well with a fillet as well – I’ve also done this recipe with lamb loin and it was absolutely fantastic)

1 head of cauliflower (grated – this is the faux rice)

2 cups of sliced mushrooms (I think shitakes really make the dish shine but regular white mushrooms are okay too)

2 medium zucchinis halved lengthwise and sliced

4 scallions chopped on bias separate whites and greens (use 3 if they are really big)

2 Garlic Cloves (minced or you can use a garlic press)

1 Tbsp of fresh ginger (grated)

½ Cup of chopped Thai basil (optional)

A sprinkling of sesame seeds (optional)

Soy sauce, mirin and rice wine vinegar to season

Sambal Oleke as a garnish (if you like some kick)

A Note on Grated Cauliflower:

This is a really cool technique, one that I think is akin to spiralizing vegetables and using them as faux pasta. However, in this case, we are grating cauliflower to use in place of rice. It is very easy and you can use either the large side of a box-grater or a food processor if you have the right attachment (which is what I used in the picture below).

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A Note on Stir Frying:

If you own an actual round-bottom carbon-steel wok with a wok ring adapter for your range, then you probably know WAY more than I do about stir-frying so you can skip this section (or this recipe altogether as you’re probably going to tell me that stir-frying is a Chinese cooking technique and these are Japanese / pan-Asian flavors, blah blah…). However, for all of us who learned western cooking first, even if you do own a wok, I would offer a couple of comments. First, woks are the traditional pans used for stir-frying. The problem is that a real wok completely rounded, which obviously doesn’t really work on the large majority of cook-tops.

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The primary reason for the shape is its versatility: if this is the only pan you own, you can use it to steam, boil, deep-fry, sauté, roast, etc. In addition, the shape becomes incredibly important for stir-frying for a couple of reasons. First, the heat is concentrated at the very bottom of the pan allowing for it to get very hot very quickly after the cooking process cools it down. In addition, it allows the chef to push various elements up the side of the pan to increase the heat to some components while decreasing the heat to others. That’s all very interesting (and, by the way, the reason that I threw out my flat-bottom All-Clad wok as it is nothing but a large sauté pan with curved sides) but how do we replicate this technique with tools that almost every kitchen has? I find that the best result comes by par-cooking most elements separately before combining them in the end. That may sound a little more complicated but believe me, it’s well worth the effort.

1) Put the pieces of meat in the bag with the marinade and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours

2) Blanche the zucchini

How to Steam Blanch Zucchini thumbnail

1. Bring a large pot of salted water (should taste like the ocean) to boil

2. Add zucchini and cook until the pieces are still holding their shape but fork tender

3. Remove from boiling water and shock in a pre-prepared ice bath immediately to stop the cooking

3) Sauté the mushrooms (might have to do in two batches depending on your pan and feel free to add a few scallions as I have done below)

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1. Place a large skillet over the stove on medium-high heat

2. When the pan is hot add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan

3. Add the mushrooms making sure there are not too many in the pan so they are crowded (if the mushrooms are crowded they will steam, not brown)

4. Sauté, adding a little salt to taste and set the mushrooms aside

5. Repeat the process if your pan was too small to do them all at once

4) Sear the beef – this part is very important because the beef WILL NOT brown unless it is done during this step

1. Remove the beef from the fridge at least an hour before cooking to allow it to come up to room temperature

2. Dry the beef thoroughly after removing it from the marinade

3. Place a large skillet (I like to use cast iron for meats) over the stove on medium-high heat

4. When the pan is hot add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan

5. Add the steak pieces making sure there are not too many in the pan so they are crowded (same comment here about steaming)

6. Quickly sear the beef making sure that each side browns but also that the beef doesn’t get overcooked (if the pieces are thin they should only be in the pan for 1 – 2 minutes each side)

7. Repeat the process if your pan was too small to do them all at once

5) Combine and finish the stir-fry

1. Place a large sauté pan on the stove over medium-high heat

2. Once the pan is hot, add enough oil to coat the pan and add the ginger, garlic, and the whites of the scallions

3. Sauté briefly until the aromas are released

4. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, and beef sequentially stirring as they are added to ensure the ingredients mix

5. Add the cauliflower and sauté with the other ingredients for about two minutes until it heats up, add a bit of soy sauce (maybe 3 tbsp, mirin (a bit less) and just a dash of rice wine vinegar

6. Cover the sauté pan and to let the cauliflower steam and soften a bit – 3 – 5 min

7. Add the sesame seeds and basil and toss

6) Serve in bowls with a bit of sesame seed, basil and sambal oleke garnish

I hope you all enjoyed this.  I promise that there will be more coming soon and I’ll try not to make all of them so complicated.  Keep reading for the next episode of Cooking with Bo.

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