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January 24, 2013

Tips to starting the day off right

(Continued)

— Smoothie: 1 cup frozen berries, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, ¼-cup old-fashioned oats and 1 tablespoon raw, unsalted almond butter.

— Scrambled egg whites with diced mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and spinach on a toasted whole-grain English muffin with a slice of low-fat cheese and/or avocado

— Greek yogurt topped with granola, banana slices and raw nut pieces

— Oatmeal made with milk and topped with seasonal fresh fruit, a handful of raw nuts and a sprinkling of ground chia seeds

— Lean turkey bacon or lean chicken sausage with sliced fresh fruit and whole grain toast with a glass of low-fat milk

Take it to-go

Not a morning person? No time to sit down and eat? Try a nutrition-packed muffin; you can make them in advance and take them with you. A healthful Banana-Berry Nut Muffin (see accompanying recipe) contains key ingredients that make it a complete breakfast.

A muffin can also make a good snack to hold you over until lunch. If done correctly, snacking can help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping your blood sugar levels steady. In order to maintain your energy levels and avoid binging, aim for planned, healthful snacks. The best snack will contain complex carbohydrates and lean protein. With a little planning, you can avoid settling for quick, high-calorie foods or ending up ravenous at your next meal.

These muffins contain whole grain flour and oats, calcium-rich almond milk, heart-healthy walnuts (which contain protein, omega-3 fatty acids and essential fats that may promote heart health), nutrient-packed chia seeds and fresh fruit from the banana and blueberries.

They also contain canola oil, which is a monounsaturated fat. These fats (also found in nuts, avocados and olives) keep blood sugar levels steady for appetite control, improve cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of heart disease.

The muffins are slightly sweetened from the cinnamon-flavored applesauce and agave syrup, but don't expect a cupcake — this is still breakfast, after all!

Elaine Gordon, a master of public health professional and a master certified health education specialist, is creator of the healthy recipe site EatingbyElaine.com.

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