Banking on Breakfast

Healthful breakfast offerings will satisfy the needs of health-conscious customers while urging others to make better choices.

Many believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, according to the American Dietetic Association, anywhere from 10%-30% of Americans skip breakfast. Research studies suggest that breakfast contributes significantly to the health and nutrition of children, adolescents and adults. A healthy breakfast can also reduce risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

According to researchers, children who skip breakfast don’t consume adequate amounts of several vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, zinc, Vitamin D and B-vitamins, and the odds of dietary inadequacy among teenagers are two to five times higher for breakfast skippers.  

Recent food consumption studies including the Bogalusa (La.) Heart Study and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Growth and Health Study reported many health benefits from breakfast. Breakfast seems to improve energy, memory, learning, alertness, mood, school attendance and performance, and physical activity in children.

Breakfast benefits: Studies show that eating cereal was related to better nutrition (e.g., more fiber, calcium and iron consumption) and lower fat and cholesterol intake in children and teenagers, while eating ready-to-eat cereal was associated with lower Body Mass Index (BMI) in children, adolescent girls and women.

Breakfast may also play a role in weight control: Among successful dieters, 78% of them ate breakfast daily.

A healthful breakfast is nutritionally balanced, so breakfast menus should include: high-fiber, whole-grain breads and fortified cereals; fruits, vegetables and juices; and low-or non-fat dairy foods and meats or meat substitutes, including beans, peanut butter, eggs and soy proteins.

Serve low-fat or soy-based versions of bacon and sausage meats, Canadian bacon and lean ham as sources of protein, and replace high-fat sweets like donuts and other pastries with cornbread and low-fat muffins.

Many operators find that a breakfast menu without such favorites as bacon and sweet pastries may be a turn-off to some customers; even the more health-conscious of the group may want to indulge themselves occasionally.

Still, most operators concur that today’s customers are looking for items that pack a nutritional punch.

Top 10 tips: Here are 10 suggestions of how to boost the health profile of your breakfast menu:

1. Serve low-sodium vegetable juices and unsweetened, 100% fruit juices. Some juices are fortified with vitamins like Vitamin C, minerals like calcium, or plant sterols, which may reduce high blood cholesterol.

2. Blend smoothies using low-fat milk or yogurt, silken tofu or soy milk, fruits, 100% fruit juice and spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Top with chopped nuts. Choose commercial smoothies with at least 5 gm. protein and not more than 30 gm. sugar and 170 calories per cup.

3. Check food labels on frozen pancakes, waffles and French toast for “100% whole grain,” at least 4 gm. fiber, and not more than 250 calories, 2 gm. saturated fat and 480 mg. sodium per serving. Top with fruits and nuts.

4. Prepare eggs with non-stick pans. Use egg substitutes for customers on low-cholesterol diets. Add vegetables and low-fat cheese or meats to omelets.

5. Serve crepes or blintzes with low-fat ricotta cheese and fruit fillings.

6. Offer breakfast, or cereal, bars that are rich in fiber (3 gm. or more), low in saturated fat (1 gm. or less) and sugar (not over 14 gm.), and not more than 150 calories.

7. Serve “100% whole wheat” or “whole grain” breads with at least 2 gm. fiber per slice (1 oz.). The first ingredient and only flour listed on packages should be whole wheat. “Multigrain,” “wheat,” rye, oatmeal and pumpernickel breads may contain mostly refined white flour. Ground flaxseed, in some breads and cereals, contains fiber and omega-3 fats.

8. Offer whole-grain, ready-to-eat cereals with at least 5 gm. fiber (e.g., bran) and not more than 200 calories, 8 gm. sugar, 1 gm. saturated fat and 200 mg. sodium per serving. Serve with skim or 1% low-fat milk, and top with fruits and nuts.

9. Serve whole-grain hot cereals (e.g., oatmeal). Cream of wheat or rice and grits are not whole grains. Check labels for at least 3 gm. fiber and not more than 250 mg. sodium per cup and no added sugars.

10. For variety, offer non-traditional breakfasts: low-fat yogurt-fruit parfait, pancakes with peanut butter and bananas, bean/cheese (low-fat) burrito, low-fat cottage cheese mixed with fruit on a bran muffin, whole-wheat English muffin mini-pizzas (low-fat cheese/vegetables), hummus on whole wheat pita bread, and vegetable quiche or frittata.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources