We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the research certainly backs up that claim. Regularly eating breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism and provides you with the energy and nutrients you need to have a happy, healthy day. So, forgo those heavily-sweetened and over-fortified cereals that put your health and your kids' health at risk.
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Here are five healthy breakfasts to help you start your day off right:
1. Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Fruit
This recipe, courtesy of the New York Times' Recipes for Health, is great if you are looking for a hot breakfast. These oats can take 25 to 30 minutes to make, so if you're pressed for time, it's recommended that you make a batch that will last a few days. You can store it in the refrigerator and heat up smaller portions on the stove each morning.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups low-fat milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 cup steel-cut oats
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter (optional)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries
- 1 to 2 teaspoons maple syrup, agave syrup, honey or brown sugar (more to taste)
- Fresh fruit (such as diced apples and pears, optional)
- Combine the water, milk and salt in a large, heavy saucepan, and bring to a boil. Slowly add the oats, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Stir in the butter, dried fruit and sweetener. Cover, and continue to simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent the cereal from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the oats are soft and the mixture is creamy. Serve, with added fruit stirred in if desired, or refrigerate and reheat as desired. Or freeze as follows:
- Line ice cube trays with plastic wrap. Fill each cube with oatmeal, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen solid, remove the cubes from the ice tray and freeze in a plastic bag. For each portion, thaw three or four cubes in a microwave on the defrost setting. Add additional warm milk if desired.
- Serves four.
Advance preparation: Cooked steel-cut oats will keep for five days in the refrigerator and can be reheated atop the stove or in the microwave.
Note: Although my steel-cut oats come in a container with directions for cooking them in the microwave, I don’t find the results satisfactory. The oatmeal doesn’t have the time it needs to swell and release its starch into the liquid, so the liquid never gets creamy and the oatmeal doesn’t soften properly. A better way to save time is to soak the oats overnight. Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Combine the oats and salt in a bowl, and pour on the water. Leave overnight. In the morning, bring the milk to a simmer in a large saucepan, and stir in the oats and any liquid remaining in the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer 15 minutes, until creamy, stirring often.
2. Avo-Banana Kale Smoothie
This smoothie recipe is one of many on Simple Green Smoothies' website, where you can find recipes for many green smoothies, which are all made up of leafy greens, fruit, a liquid base and sometimes superfood toppings like chia or flax seeds. According to the website, these smoothies provide a natural energy boost, help maintain a healthy weight, keep you healthy all year-long, are packed with antioxidants and taste delicious.
- 2 cups kale, fresh
- 2 cups water
- 3 bananas
- 1/4 avocado
- Blend kale and water until smooth.
- Next add the remaining fruits and blend again.
- Use at least one frozen fruit to make the green smoothie cold.
- Serves two.
3. Greek Omelet
This omelet recipe from Eating Well offers a heart-healthy breakfast with eggs and nutrient-packed spinach. If you're not a fan of Greek flavors, you can substitute whatever vegetables, herbs and cheese you would like.
- 1/4 cup cooked spinach
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, (2 ounces)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Squeeze spinach to remove any excess water. Blend eggs with a fork in a medium bowl. Add feta, scallions, dill, pepper and the spinach; mix gently with a rubber spatula.
- Set a rack about 4 inches from the heat source; preheat the broiler.
- Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and tilt to distribute evenly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the bottom is light golden, lifting the edges to allow uncooked egg to flow underneath, 3 to 4 minutes. Place the pan under the broiler and cook until the top is set, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Slide the omelet onto a platter and cut into wedges.
- Serves two.
4. Granola with Yogurt and Fruit
Avoid the sugar-laden yogurt parfaits that you can find in the store and make your own with this recipe from Health.com. Once you have made your granola, just add a yogurt that doesn't have all of the added sugar and artificial flavors that too many yogurts have these days. Or, make your own yogurt!
- 4 cups regular oats
- 2 cups puffed rice cereal (such as Arrowhead Mills)
- 1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup oat bran
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup honey
- Cooking spray
- 1/4 cup dried blueberries (or other dried fruit)
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
- Combine the juices in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil; cook until reduced to 2/3 cup.
- Remove from heat; stir in honey.
- Slowly pour juice mixture over oat mixture, tossing to coat.
- Spread oat mixture evenly onto a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray.
- Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally.
- Cool slightly; stir in blueberries.
- Cool completely, and store in an airtight container.
5. Bagel with Nut Butter and Bananas
This recipe, also from Eating Well, is a great, healthy, on-the-go food for those who are crunched for time in the morning.
- 2 tablespoons natural nut butter, such as almond, cashew or peanut
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Pinch of salt
- 1 whole-wheat bagel, split and toasted
- 1 small banana, sliced
- Stir together nut butter, honey and salt in a small bowl.
- Divide the mixture between bagel halves and top with banana slices.
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By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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