Nutrition and Fitness with Randa

Breakfast Doesn’t Have to be Pancakes

Arabic Breakfast

Growing up and traveling in the Middle East, I have learned that breakfast does not have to consist of pancakes, eggs and cereal. Some of my favorite Arabic breakfast choices are fresh cucumbers and  tomatoes, paired with olives and haloumi cheese or labneh, and warm arabic bread.

I love this tantalizing description of classic favorites for breakfast in the Arab world:

"Fragrant stacks of freshly baked flat bread assail the nostrils when the napkin is lifted. Surrounding the loaves are small bowls of salty, white goat cheese, glistening black and green olives, and labnah, a thick cream cheese made by draining yogurt through cheesecloth, and then drizzled with olive oil.

A breakfast in Lebanon is likely to consist of arous labnah, rolled sandwiches of flat Arab bread filled with labnah, along with whatever the eater chooses of olives, tomato and mint. Or pieces can be torn off the bread and dipped in za'tar, a mixture of thyme, salt, sumac and sesame seeds. If there is a bakery nearby, manoushah can be delivered, hot and oily, with za'tar, already baked on top of the bread. At the same time, from the baker y, it is a temptation to buy laham bi 'ajin, a sort of pizza made with minced meat, tomatoes, and onions sprinkled with spices, parsley, and pine nuts."

We had guests for dinner last night, and when I opened the fridge this morning, the leftover grilled chicken and red quinoa salad sounded much more inviting than a bowl of oatmeal! Who says you can't eat chicken for breakfast? (Check out my blog post titled: Chicken for Breakfast?) Think outside the box when it comes to breakfast - if steak sounds good to you, eat a steak!

Black Bean, Roasted Corn & Avocado Salad with Quinoa (recipe from Trader Joes)

Red Quinoa salad for breakfast

  • 1 Cup Quinoa (or red Quinoa) , cooked with broth
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1-15. oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 avocados, cutinto 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup Cilantro Salad Dressing (or use a Balsamic Vinaigrette)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • sea salt and pepper

Cook quinoa according to package directions. While quinoa is cooking, combine beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes and onion. Top with salad dressing and toss gently. Add salt, pepper and lime zest to taste. Add 1/2 of cilantro and toss gently.

When quinoa is cooked, toss with olive oil. Set aside to cool. When ready to serve, combine quinoa with corn and bean mixture and garnish with remaining cilantro.

If you don't eat chicken, top with sauteed tofu (watch my video post on how to make tasty tofu), or top a bed of greens with this wonderfully health quinoa salad.

Do you have a "breakfast outside the box" idea? Leave a comment!

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Oatmeal Trifle

This recipe is a great way to get protein into your morning oatmeal.

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Chicken for Breakfast?

Chicken for Breakfast? How to Add More Protein to your Breakfast

A friend of mine recently asked how she can get more protein in at breakfast without eating dairy. I thought this would be great blog post as I imagine many are either not getting enough protein, or eating too much of it, at breakfast. I do have a friend who enjoys chicken at breakfast - why not? There are no rules! Well, maybe 2: make sure to actually eat breakfast and secondly, ask yourself if you have enough protein.

Speaking of breakfast, it is likely that we have all heard – maybe to ad nauseum – that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But WHY is it such a big deal?

  • Your metabolism slows when you haven’t eaten in a while (more than three hours) When you wake up, you haven’t eaten for at least 6 hours – unless you are raiding the pantry in your sleep!
  • Eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking essentially jump starts your metabolism.
  • If you can’t stomach breakfast, at least eat a snack, then eat breakfast two hours later.

So what to eat to ensure you are getting at least 15 grams of protein? Here are some delicious breakfast ideas:

* Add vanilla protein powder to your oatmeal. Tip: Wisk the powder with some water or milk before adding otherwise it will be lumpy – yuk! (If you are dairy-free, try Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder or Life’s Basics Plant Protein Powder)

*Greek Yogurt topped with berries, a small sliced banana and some toasted nuts.

*Cereal with milk or soymilk – if the combined amount of protein in the serving of cereal and serving of milk is not 15 grams, add a small side of eggs, turkey sausage, or add protein powder to your milk.

*Egg sandwich: 1 egg/2 egg whites or 3-4oz egg whites and a piece of Canadian bacon  or Morning Star soy sausage patties sandwiched between two pieces of whole wheat or sourdough toast with a side of berries or grapefruit

*Fruit Smoothie: 1 banana + 1 cup berries + 1 serving protein powder + H2O + ice

1 cup milk (any kind) + 3 cup berries + 1 serving protein powder + ice

(You can also add some ground flaxseed to any of these breakfast ideas for a boost of essential fatty acids and fiber)

What do YOU eat for breakfast? Leave a comment!

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