Breakfast has long been known as the “most important meal of the day”, but why? Research has shown that skipping the morning meal leads to increased perceived hunger and reduced perceived fullness (satiety) which may cause a greater energy intake at meals later in the day. A protein rich breakfast was the most effective in reducing these effects. The feelings of hunger and fullness have to do with the hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. You know that feeling you get when your afternoon meeting runs into your usual lunch break and the noises from your stomach don’t sound human? That’s the work of ghrelin and other processes letting you know it’s time to eat. Leptin is ghrelin’s counterpart; it is the satiety hormone telling your body you are satisfied. Unfortunately, leptin’s communication pathway is a little easier to disrupt…. So we don’t always get a strong “you’re full” signal in time.

Back to breakfast. Typical breakfast foods tend to be rich in carbohydrate, which digest faster, making us feel hungry sooner. These items (think cereal, bagel, and toast) tend to crowd out other options, like protein. There are many wonderful sources of protein including meat, eggs, dairy, vegetable proteins, beans, and more. Now that we know protein can help to promote satiety and keep us from overeating later in the day… what should we choose to fit within our busy schedules? Try these easy, protein packed breakfast recipes to increase your success!

1. Breakfast “bento” box: 2 Boiled eggs, 1/8 c almonds, ½ c cottage cheese topped with ½ c fruit.

2. Protein parfait: 1 c Greek yogurt (plain to reduce sugar), ¼ c walnuts, ½ c berries (layer for best results). If you can’t deal with the tartness of plain yogurt just yet – add your own drizzle of VT maple syrup or honey, but remember less is more because these are still sources of sugar!

3. Breakfast sandwich on the go: 1 egg cooked anyway you like, 2 slices whole grain bread, sliced tomato, spinach, 1 slice cheddar cheese

4. Quinoa bake: Cook 1/4 c quinoa in milk (instead of water, according to package instructions). Top with 1/3 c Greek yogurt, ¼ c nuts, ¼ c berries, and cinnamon. Cook the quinoa ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for an even easier meal!

5. Crustless mini-quiche:
6 large eggs
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (5 fl oz/160 ml) whole milk
2/3 cup (5 fl oz/160 ml) heavy cream
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded cheese
Vegetables of your choice (spinach, onion, mushrooms, peppers work great)

Grease 2, 24-cup mini cupcake pans or a regular size 12-cup cucake pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, milk, cream, salt, and pepper. In the muffin tins add vegetables and sprinkle cheese on bottom of each mini-crustless quiche muffin area. Top with egg mixture and sprinkle cheese on top, if desired. Bake until tops are just beginning to brown (~15 minutes) and egg is fully cooked, transfer to wire cooling rack for 5 minutes & serve. Once completely cooled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for an easy, on the go breakfast to reheat during the week!