3 Simple healthy breakfasts

Steel-cut oats cooked overnight in the slow cooker

Steel-cut oats cooked overnight in the slow cooker with dried cherries and apricots make a hearty and healthful breakfast. (Sept. 2012) (Credit: Marge Perry)

Marge Perry

Newsday columnist Marge Perry Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts,

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TIP Studies show those who have breakfast tend to eat fewer daily calories overall than those who skip it.

1. OVERNIGHT OATMEAL WITH APRICOTS AND CHERRIES

After cooking overnight, add milk or water if you like oatmeal thinner or smoother; top with additional brown sugar or honey, cinnamon or chopped nuts, as desired.

1 cup steel-cut oats

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup (about 12) dried apricots, quartered

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups water

Coat a slow cooker pot with cooking spray. Add the oats, cherries, apricots, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, salt and water and stir. Cook on low 8 hours.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition per serving 225 calories, 4 g protein, 51 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 152 mg sodium

2. PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE SMOOTHIE

This is like a liquid peanut butter cup -- but healthier. To boost the chocolate flavor, replace the honey with fat-free chocolate syrup.

1 (6-ounce) container nonfat chocolate yogurt

2 tablespoons unsweetened natural peanut butter

1 frozen banana

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup fat-free milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender; puree until smooth.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition per serving 301 calories, 9 g protein, 49 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 201 mg sodium

3. GRANOLA

Spoon it over yogurt or eat it like cereal with milk for a healthful, energizing breakfast. It keeps for weeks in a tightly closed container at room temperature. Recipe may be doubled.

2/3 cups orange juice

2 tablespoons walnut or hazelnut oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup All-Bran cereal

1/2 cup puffed-rice cereal

2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (chopped into 1/4 inch pieces)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup mixed dried fruit (any combination) chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

1/4 cup Grape-Nuts cereal

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet pan with cooking spray.

2. Stir the orange juice, oil, honey and almond extract together until honey is completely dissolved. (Microwaving the mixture for 20 seconds may help.)

3. Combine the All-Bran, puffed rice, oats, wheat germ, walnuts, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the liquid mixture and stir well; spread on baking sheet pan and toast in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes, until it is dry. Remove from oven and stir in the dried fruit, Grape-Nuts cereal and brown sugar. Cool in the pan.

Makes 15 servings (about 7 1/2 cups).

Nutrition per serving 152 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 108 mg sodium