April 20, 2024

Nyman: Build a better breakfast with dairy

September is Better Breakfast Month and there has never been a better time to celebrate. Breakfast has famously been known as the most important meal of the day and for good reason. The documented benefits of eating breakfast include boosting brain power, improving nutrient intakes and revving up metabolism. And, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, while 93% of Americans believe that fueling an empty tank every morning is important, less than half jumpstart the day this way.

Breakfast is the first nutrition opportunity of the day and a chance to get in some important foods that may be lacking in our diets, like dairy foods, fruits and whole grains. These foods pack a powerful punch of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. Research shows that breakfast-skippers may not make up these nutrients later in the day.

While the USDA statistics suggest Americans are “in the know” about the nutritional need for breakfast, the reason they are still skipping is often due to lack of time. Morning schedules can make for hectic households, with families rushing out the door for work, school and errands. Time is a prized commodity, but you can pack speed, convenience and health into your morning meal with dairy,. Choosing dairy at breakfast, whether it’s milk in a glass, cheese on your eggs or yogurt in a smoothie, is a simple way to add great taste in a matter of seconds while adding a great source of calcium and protein to your morning routine.”

What is the best choice for the morning meal? According to experts, a meal high in protein may do the best job of curbing hunger and providing a feeling of “fullness” or satiety. Dairy is a good source of protein. Whether on its own as an instant fuel, or paired with other nutritious breakfast foods, dairy can help keep you feeling satisfied until lunchtime.

The staying power of milk’s protein isn’t the only benefit of making it part of your morning routine. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults and children ages 9 and older include three servings of dairy food in their daily eating plan. On average, Americans are coming up short by getting only about two servings. Adding one serving of milk during breakfast provides thirteen essential nutrients in an easy and affordable way. When it comes to delivering great taste and nutrition in a pinch, milk is a great multi-tasker. It’s the real deal.

There are many ways to integrate dairy into your diet. Do you like oats? Make overnight oats with milk and mix in fruit, a little honey and nuts. A fan of eggs? Make scrambled eggs with milk, red peppers and mushrooms — and top it all off with shredded cheddar cheese. Love toast? Melt cheese on toasted whole grain bread with tomato, avocado or a veggie of your choice. Other options include topping yogurt with fruit and whole grain cereal, or making a smoothie with milk, yogurt and fruit.

Cheddar and Ham Muffins

Start your day on the right foot with the most important meal — breakfast! With this protein-packed recipe, you will stay satisfied throughout your day. Pair these delicious muffins with a glass of milk.

Servings: 9


3/4 cup low-fat shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1 3/4 cup reduced fat all-purpose baking mix

1 cup milk, low-fat

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup ham, diced


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine cheddar and Parmesan cheeses in a bowl. Add milk and baking mix; stir together.

Add pepper and ham and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased muffin pan (about one-half full).

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until muffin tops are golden brown.

Monica Nyman

Monica Nyman

Monica Nyman is a senior educator and registered dietitian with the St Louis District Dairy Council. For more information on the health benefits of dairy, visit www.stldairycouncil.org.