June 19, 2014 at 1:00 am

Nutrition

Wake up to veggies for your breakfast

Veggies make a perfect accompaniment to eggs, such as this omelet. (Fotolia)

Studies have linked breakfast consumption to lower risk of chronic diseases, better weight management and improved mental performance. However, its not just any breakfast that yields these rewards the greatest benefits come with a breakfast packed with nutritious, high-fiber foods, which may include whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Ideas:

Eating vegetables offers vital nutrients that lower the risk of developing numerous ailments, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers and other diseases of aging. And we need to add more vegetables to our daily diets: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that US adults consume only 1.6 daily servings of vegetables well below the recommended intake set by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Breakfast might be the ideal time to introduce our daily vegetables.

Excellent eggs. Take an example from the Turkish and add tomatoes, pepper and onions to your morning scramble, omelet or frittata. Experiment with other vegetables, such as greens, mushrooms, zucchini and asparagus.

Spread swap. Instead of topping your whole-grain toast, waffles or pancakes with butter or syrup, try pumpkin butter for a boost of fiber and vitamin A.

Better Benedict. Instead of traditional eggs Benedict, serve the dish Florentine style, with mounds of steamed spinach or over a roasted Portabella mushroom.

Savvy sandwich. Top a whole-wheat roll, English muffin or slice of bread with a thin piece of cheese, or hummus and vegetables, such as cucumbers, tomatoes and roasted eggplant. Or make your own version of a burrito: Fill a whole grain tortilla with brown rice, beans, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and a sprinkle of cheese.

Veg out your muffin. Improve your whole-grain homemade muffin by adding pureed pumpkin or shredded carrots or zucchini. Make a big batch and freeze the extras for a quick vegetable-packed treat on the run.

Hash in a hurry. Flavor morning potato hash with chopped vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, parsnips, turnips and fennel or use up your leftover vegetables.

Toss and go. Why wait until lunchtime for your salad? Toss together dried fruit, toasted nuts and whole grains with vegetables such as greens, asparagus and avocado. Top with a poached egg for a yummy, protein-rich sauce.

Grain goodness. Whole grains, which provide slow-burning carbohydrates and protein, are a great way to start the day; they offer a blank canvas to which you can add steamed vegetables and avocado.

Super smoothie. Add fresh greens (kale, spinach or arugula) or avocado, or cooked sweet potatoes or beets to your morning smoothie to kick up nutrients without sacrificing flavor.

environmentalnutrition.com