By Lucy Danziger
the Editor-in-Chief of SELF Magazine
According to a Self.com poll, 78 percent of us have the same breakfast every morning. For me, it’s my berry, granola and yogurt parfait. It’s a perfect start to my busy schedule, but day after day? I’ll admit to a case of breakfast boredom. If you’re not excited about your morning meal, you may be inclined to skip it completely—not a good thing, since studies show breakfast eaters tend to consume fewer calories and less saturated fat throughout the day, and have flatter abs and a lower risk for heart disease than those who skip. Cereal monogamists, take note: By eating a mix of satisfying fat, protein and carbs in the morning, you’ll find it easier to stick to a healthy diet all day. However, you want to make sure you’re eating the right foods—a challenge given all the sugary cereal and oatmeal, nutritionally barren bagels and fat-laden sausage and bacon on supermarket aisles. As part of SELF’s annual Healthy Food Awards (we call them SELF Selects!), we asked dietitians Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Claire of New York City to suss out breakfast foods that met their rigorous criteria, then invited dozens of taste testers to sample the goods. These 10 winners nabbed top honors. Pop them in your cart, try the deliciously satisfying recipe idea for each, and rise and shine.
Best Plain Greek-Style Yogurt: Fage Total 0% (120 calories, 0 grams fat per 8 oz): It’s fat-free, but so luxuriously thick and creamy, you’d never know it. Plus, it’s a great source of calcium and protein.
You’ll love it like this: Puree 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries in a blender. Pour into a tall glass, alternating in layers with 8 oz yogurt and 1/3 cup fresh or thawed frozen blueberries or strawberries. Top with 1/3 cup lowfat granola and 2 tbsp sliced almonds.
Best Cottage Cheese: Friendship Lowfat 1% Milkfat (90 calories, 1 g fat per 1/2 cup): This dairy do is rich in protein and contains just enough salt to add flavor.
You’ll love it like this: Spread 1/2 cup on 2 slices of whole-grain toast. Top each with 1 slice tomato and 2 tbsp shaved Parmesan. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, salt and pepper, and broil until warm.
Best Granola: Special K Low Fat Granola (190 calories, 3 g fat per 3/4 cup): This crunchy mix is tinged with honey and packed with fiber, too!
You’ll love it like this: Sprinkle 2 tbsp over 1 cup fruit salad (for instance, a mix of guava, watermelon and apricots) and 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt.
Best Frozen Waffle: Kellogg’s Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat (170 calories, 6 g fat per 2 waffles): These light and fluffy breakfast treats almost taste homemade.
You’ll love it like this: Top 2 waffles with 8 oz lowfat plain yogurt, 3/4 of medium banana cut into slices and 1 tbsp chopped walnuts.
Best Cereal: Quaker Oatmeal Squares (210 calories, 2.5 g fat per cup): Pour on the moo juice—these brown sugar–coated nuggets stay crunchy in milk, but they’re tasty enough to eat on their own, too.
You’ll love it like this: Combine 1/3 cup cereal with 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, 1/4 cup raisins and 2 tbsp slivered almonds. Top with 1 cup nonfat milk and a dash of cinnamon—muesli!
Best Bagel: Thomas’ Hearty Grains 100% Whole Wheat (240 calories, 2 g fat per oz): Take bagels off your verboten-foods list! This version has fiber and protein and tastes just baked.
You’ll love it like this: Top 1/2 bagel with 2 tbsp light cream cheese and 2 oz smoked salmon. Garnish with capers, sliced red onion and lemon.
Best Light Cream Cheese: Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat Neufchâtel (70 calories, 6g fat per oz): Less fat doesn’t have to mean less flavor, as this creamy, indulgent-tasting spread proves. Say (cream) cheese!
You’ll love it like this: Fill a whole-wheat wrap with 2 tbsp cream cheese, 4 dried fig halves and 2 tbsp chopped walnuts, and roll it up.
Best Unsweetened Instant Oatmeal: McCann’s Instant Irish Oatmeal, Regular (100 calories, 2 g fat per packet): Save yourself unnecessary sugar by adding spices or a spoonful of maple syrup to a steaming bowl of these oats. Bonus: They’re high in vitamins and fiber.
You’ll love it like this: Top cooked oatmeal with 3/4 cup skim milk and 1/2 cup blueberries.
Best Turkey Bacon: Applegate Farms Organic Turkey Bacon (35 calories, 1.5 g fat per slice): Countdown to deliciousness! These strips cook up crisp, even when you nuke them in the microwave.
You’ll love it like this: Scramble 1 large egg in 1 tsp margarine and place on a toasted whole-grain English muffin spread with 1 tsp margarine. Top with 1 slice cooked turkey bacon and 2 tbsp shredded reduced-fat cheddar.
Best Orange Juice: Florida’s Natural Calcium and Vitamin D (110 calories, 0 g fat per cup): Thanks to its fresh-squeezed flavor, you’ll want to make this beverage your new main squeeze. Plus, a serving contains all the vitamin C you need for the day!
You’ll love it like this: Buzz 1/2 cup orange juice in the blender along with 1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt and 4 ice cubes. Sip with 18 almonds for a quick breakfast.