I think running and I are *almost* friends again – yesterday was 4.5 pain-free miles on the tready followed by some elliptical. Hooray! It’s been less than a month since the marathon, but I’ve missed my time out on the roads/bridle path so, so much – I think I’m going through Central Park withdrawals. Hopefully the IT band holds up when I give it a try outside this weekend!
Anyways, on to some food/nutrition fun – something I think has been missing on the blog since the marathon madness. I feel like every other day there’s an article in some magazine or website about the latest and greatest “super foods,” usually consisting of the usual suspects – pomegranates, salmon, spinach, for example.
There are tons of “super foods” out there that may not get as much attention, but provide some great nutrients and are also pretty damn delicious.
So here are some of my super foods, starting with…
Breakfast - my absolute favorite meal of the day. Ever since I’ve basically been able to eat (right, mom?) I’ve loved cereal – hence the giant pile of boxes in my kitchen.
My tastes/preferences have changed since my youth and I prefer “healthier” cereals these days, but sigh – remember how good Lucky Charms were? Fruity Pebbles? Gah. But to this day it just feels weird not to start the day out with a heaping bowl of deliciousness.
When picking out cereals at the supermarket, I look for a few key things on the nutrition panel:
- Calories – some cereals have a higher calorie count, but can be more filling (i.e., no need for mid-morning snackage). I usually mix a cereal with 100 – 110 calories per cup with a little bit of one with 190-210 calories per cup
- Fiber - cereals are a great way to get some good fiber in your diet. I look for anywhere between 4-6 grams per serving (usually one cup)
- Sugar – the good cereals don’t have to be high in sugar! I usually pick up boxes with 8 grams or less per serving. Adding cinnamon to cereal is a great way to add some sweetness without the sugar.
- Protein – can’t forget about protein! I usually make sure cereals contain at least a little protein. About 3-6 grams per serving is good enough for me
A must for cereal? Milk, of course
I’m a fan of almond milk, but enjoy skim milk as well.
If comparing them directly, skim milk provides more protein while almond milk is a little lower in calories. I think both are great options – just make sure they’re fortified with calcium and vitamin D (most are these days).
Fruit makes for an excellent cereal topper, and I’m partial to berries. I love getting them fresh in the summer, but the frozen kind are also great and pack just as much of a nutritional punch.
Blueberries are a usual suspect atop my morning cereal. Just one cup of berries provides:
- 4 grams of fiber
- 25% DV of vitamin C and manganese
- 80 calories
Not to mention their antioxidant power, which can help neutralize free radical damage to the body’s cells and improve the vascular system.
Bananas are also a morning staple of mine – they’re the only thing I can consume right before heading out for a run or visit to the gym that settles well with the stomach.
Besides providing some quick energy, bananas are a great source of fiber and potassium, which can help prevent muscle cramping (major win for runners!)
Oats are also a great cereal alternative for chilly days!
The combination of things that can be added to a bowl of oats are endless – nut butter, yogurt, fruit, nuts, granola…
Oats pack a TON of vitamins and minerals, and are great sources of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, folate and thiamin. Oats also provide soluble fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol.
One of the most important things to remember about these foods is that they actually taste good. Just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean is needs to taste like cardboard!
Stay tuned for some of my favorite lunch super foods next!
Question: What are some of your breakfast super foods?