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Eat/Drink

Local Flavor: Breakfast your way to a better you

You won't regret getting a healthy start to your day

I used to live my life like an outlaw.

I was a bad, bad man.

Breakfast? Please, let’s be real. Who needs stinkin’ breakfast?

I’ve come a long way since then.

Breakfast should be – by far – the most important part of your day. It can set you up for success before your eyes are even fully open.

Recently, I’ve read some research about how breakfast might not be so important. Some are trying to knock it down from its pedestal. Haters.

I say all of this regardless of what scientists say, have said, or will continue to say about skipping breakfast.

Are you completely doomed if you don’t eat breakfast? No.

But, I’m just speaking from my own experience – eating breakfast each morning changed my life.

I firmly believe that I wouldn’t have lost a substantial amount of weight without changing my early morning habits.

Shortly after I first began working at Sauk Valley Media, more than 5 years ago, I was in the worst shape of my life.

And what was possibly the biggest reason?

I wasn’t used to the second-shift lifestyle and I let bad habits build upon each other.

I would skip meals here and there, and I would binge around midnight when I got off work. It was as if food became a reward at night for surviving another day in the real world of journalism.

Needless to say, when I woke up in the morning, I wasn’t hungry for hours. Therefore, I simply didn’t eat.

What happens when you don’t eat within a few hours of waking up? Your metabolism becomes your metabol-isn’t – slowing down and making it harder to burn calories.

Now, I always eat within 1 hour of waking up.

I look at breakfast a lot like a commuter getting gas each morning before the trip to work. If you need to get somewhere today, you need to fuel up.

I understand it can be time-consuming to make breakfast, but taking care of yourself is worth the extra time.

I go to bed earlier these days to make sure I have enough time to make breakfast in the morning before I work out. In our household, we also make sure there are easy-to-grab things, such as hard-boiled eggs, in the fridge at all times. Stuff like that is perfect on the days when I need something a little quicker.

My schedule allows quite a bit of time to get things done before I head to the office. My fiancee, Michelle, and I also do not have kids yet, and I can only imagine the added stress of trying to get them ready for school in the mornings.

But, like I said before, it comes down to making you and your family’s health important.

It’s not always going to be easy, but I bet you won’t regret it.

Here are two examples of the morning meals I make. You can mix and match with ingredients and try your own. I just hope this gives you an idea of where to start. Did you add your own twist and make something even better? Let me know!

AVOCADO TOAST WITH EGGS

2 pieces of whole wheat bread

2 hard-boiled eggs

1/2 of an avocado

5 mini peppers, chopped

1/2 of a jalapeno

1/8 cup white onion, chopped

Handful of spinach, chopped

Seasonings: Salt, pepper and garlic powder

1. While you hard-boil two eggs, cut avocado in half and scoop the flesh out of the skin on one side into a mixing bowl. Put lemon juice on the other side and place it in a container in the refrigerator; it will last longer that way.

2. Chop peppers and onion, mix with avocado. Add seasonings to mixture.

3. When your eggs are ready and peeled, pop your bread in the toaster.

4. While your bread is being toasted, chopped some spinach up.

5. Once the toast is done, spread the avocado mixture onto both pieces. Cut your hard-boiled eggs into thin slices and layer them on the avocado spread.

6. Sprinkle with spinach, and grab a fruit like some grapes or raspberries and enjoy.

SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH PICO DE GALLO

2 to 3 eggs

1/4 of an avocado

A pinch of shredded cheese

My homemade take on pico de gallo, which usually includes: tomato, jalapeno, onion, orange and red pepper, black beans, corn, fresh-squeezed lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder and whatever other spices I feel like throwing in that particular day.

Note: Basically, once you’ve made your pico de gallo, you can use it for days in dishes like this. It’s also great on salads and in wraps with chicken.

1. Set your pan to medium heat. Drop in a few spoonfuls of your pico de gallo, and let it heat up for a few minutes.

2. Pour your eggs into the pan, and add your avocado. (It’s also just fine without the avocado. You can also add the avocado after the eggs are on the plate.)

3. Once the eggs are cooked, enjoy!

MANY OTHER GREAT OPTIONS

As you can see, I like eggs. Not a fan? Don’t worry; there are many other great options to eat in the morning.

• One I fall back on a lot is whole-wheat toast topped (lightly) with natural peanut butter and slices from half of a banana.

• Avocado toast is also great without the hard-boiled eggs. Make an avocado spread with whatever ingredients you enjoy and you’ll end up with a satisfying and extremely nutritious breakfast.

• Smoothies are another popular choice in my house. We use almond milk, and mixtures include foods such as fresh fruit, spinach and peanut butter. The healthy options are endless with smoothies, but make sure you are monitoring how much of your daily sugar intake you are getting with this option.

• Breakfast burritos with cooked black beans as the base are also a good choice. Add peppers and onion, and wrap it all up in a whole-wheat tortilla. Make sure you have some salsa for dipping.

STAND OUT AT SUPER BOWL PARTY

Looking for a perfect dish for the big game this Sunday? Don't worry, I've got you covered. Here's a few recipes for one of those days of the year where you should let loose a little bit.

Chili: Go to shawurl.com/2dzb for a recipe for chili that I enjoy making (and constantly changing) for friends and family.

Pulled Pork Nachos: Go to shawurl.com/2dzc for one of my all-time favorites for watching big games.

Pork tacos: Go to shawurl.com/1xfn and please your guest with a pork taco bar.

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