Breakfast Banners Developed for Dedicated Foodservice Director


Here are three banners that are custom-designed for Lisa Durand, a foodservice manager who works for Thompson Public Schools. She wanted to make sure all of her students know that breakfast is free by installing very colorful banners in her cafeteria. We gave her three choices because she has 3 grades: elementary, middle, and high school ages. She chose all three so one of each will be going into her schools shortly. The oranges are from a photo we made in our studio using 9 different oranges from a farmer who was selling direct to consumers in a farmer’s market here in California. The dancing people filled plant foods. And the running figure is filled with fruits and veggies.

Students are reminded to “fuel up to play 60” so they eat well and get physical activity for 60 minutes a day!

We love custom projects! Let us know if you need one!

Are Your Holidays Healthful? A Quiz

Do you keep your holiday celebrations good for your health? Find out with this brand-new quiz!


Dancing at a Party1. What is the most featured item in the display of foods at your holiday party?

a) Cookies
b) Meats
c) Fruits and vegetables
d) Cheeses

2. True or false? I make sure to get at least some physical activity during most days of the week.

3. Some smart ways to control portion size at meals include…

a) Making a healthy plate.
b) Sharing a meal
c) Being aware of the calorie content of the foods you purchase.
d) All of the above

4. True or false? I make sure to eat a healthful high-fiber breakfast every morning.


Holiday Platter1. c) Fruits and vegetables
For the most healthful holiday celebration, make fruits and vegetables the start of any buffet you set up. You can keep things simple with crudités and some yogurt-based dips, or you can get fancy and roast up your favorite vegetables and serve them on a platter, drizzled with a little bit of sauce and garnished with parsley. Add bowls of berries and sliced fruit too!

2. True
To stay healthy during the holidays, it’s wise to sneak in a little physical activity whenever you can, even though things are busy. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “Being physically active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health.”

Check the Label3. d) All of the above
If you’re having a holiday gathering at a restaurant or coffee shop, check out any nutrition information that’s available online. Make sure that the portion size of what you want to order is reasonable. If it’s not, look for alternatives. Then, if you want to get or make something that only comes in a large portion, share it with a friend or family member. Finally, if you’re picking up a treat for a holiday gathering, check the labels! Use the Nutrition Facts to calculate serving size, nutrient content, and much more! Making a healthy plate will help you put your foods in the right proportions, too.

4. True
Starting your day off with a balanced and high-fiber breakfast is a smart way to stay healthy this holiday season. After all, breakfast is associated with a lower BMI, fewer calories consumed during the day, and a better diet. Plus, a healthful breakfast not only gives you energy, but also increases cognitive function. Some ideas include high-fiber cereal with nonfat milk, and fruit, or lowfat yogurt and fruit, or egg whites and fruit. A smoothie made with fruit and skim milk is also a great start.

How did you do? Do you know the nuts and bolts of staying healthy during the holidays?

Eat More Oatmeal!

How are you doing with making small changes to your eating pattern that can make a difference in your health? One of the ideas in my New Year’s resolution article was to “eat more oatmeal.” Did you try it? How are you doing?

The concept behind that little goal is to have oatmeal instead of processed cereal. There are several things going on here: saving money by not buying expensive boxes of cereal, knowing exactly what you’re adding to the cereal, and knowing that oatmeal is good for you.

How good? Well, oatmeal is naturally low in fat and sodium and high in fiber. It’s also a good source of iron and provides protein, B vitamins, and other minerals. Oatmeal is an excellent source of whole grains too. Eating oats may even help protect against high blood cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

There used to only be a couple different types of oatmeal available, but now the choices are many. All this variety can get a little confusing, so let me clear some things up. All types of oatmeal start with oat groats, which are oat grains without the hulls. Choose your oatmeal based on the time you have to prepare it, the texture you prefer, and any added ingredients you may or may not want.

  • Scotch or Irish oats have been cut but not rolled. They have a hearty texture with a nutty flavor. The traditional version can take up to 30 minutes to cook, though there are quicker-cooking options.
  • Steel-cut oats are whole oat groats that have been sliced into pieces. These cook in about 20 minutes with a chewy, coarse texture.
  • Rolled or old-fashioned oats are whole oat groats that are steamed and rolled to flatten them; they cook in about five to ten minutes.
  • Quick oats are rolled oats that have been cut into even smaller pieces. These cook in about one to five minutes.
  • Instant oats are whole oat groats that are rolled thinner and cut finer than the others. Since they’re also pre-cooked, you can just add boiling water or heat them in the microwave for about 90 seconds.

According the USDA Nutrient Database, all plain oatmeal types are about the same when it comes to nutrients. One cup of cooked (with water and no salt) old-fashioned or quick oats has 166 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, no sodium, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and less than a gram of sugar. Watch out for instant oatmeal packets, since most of them have added flavors which usually add calories, sodium, and sugars. To steer clear of these, keep an eye on the ingredients list and Nutrition Facts label.

You can make oatmeal in the microwave as quickly as you can pour a bowl of cereal and milk.

To try it for yourself, don’t miss this edition of one of Chef Judy’s recipes:


  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Place all ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. The big key here is to make sure you have a large bowl, so that it won’t overflow! I like to make it in a 1 quart measuring cup and then just eat out of the cup. Voilà! Only one dish to clean.
  2. Add your own skim milk, fruit, nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, and spices to the cooked oatmeal — you are in control. To save even more time in the morning, make your own little “instant oatmeal” packs, adding spices or dried fruits. That way, all you’ll need to do in the morning is add water, microwave, and eat!

And what if you don’t think that you have time to make oatmeal every day? My solution is to make a large batch of oatmeal over the weekend and reheat single servings quickly in the microwave. That way, you’ll have a speedy meal without losing any of its nutritional benefits. Cooked oatmeal will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week and makes a quick and healthful breakfast.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Here are a few of the other top breakfast resources, just for you!

Spotlight on Breakfast

My team and I just updated the Breakfast Poster that comes with the 12 Lessons of Wellness and Weight Management program, so today I want to preview the free PDF handout that comes with it!

Take a look!

Breakfast: Start Your Day with a Healthy Meal

Make Healthy Choices!

Eating breakfast is a good way to get the energy you need to face the day, while also making sure that you get some key nutrients that will boost your health and help you feel full until lunchtime.

Many participants in the National Weight Control Registry, a large investigation of long-term successful weight management, begin each day with breakfast.

Make healthy choices, building a breakfast that is nutrient-dense and low in empty calories.

Kids and Breakfast: Fun Facts

Did you know that, according to the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA, “Children who eat breakfast are more likely to behave better in school and get along with their peers than those who do not.” They continue, “Breakfast helps children pay attention, perform problem-solving tasks, and improves memory.”

Breakfast is also a great opportunity to help kids get the nutrients they need to stay healthy. These include…

  • Calcium
  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Protein

Multiple studies also indicate that breakfast can help kids manage their weight successfully, reducing their risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Here’s the printable handout — how will you use your copy?


Want more breakfast resources? Check out these options…

Make Your Salad a Rainbow!

Did you know that four final rules for implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) were just announced?

In a nutshell, the USDA finalized its rules for nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, including breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

According to a press release sent out by the USDA, “As a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation, the rules will ensure that children have access to healthy snacks and that nutrition standards for the foods marketed and served in schools are consistent. The rules will also promote integrity across the school meals programs.”

Want to help communicate the key nutrition lessons that are central to these new rules?

Check out this fantastic new salad bar sign!

After all, making healthful food available is only half the battle. We need to make it appealing to kids too.


This new salad bar sign is a better design and at a lower price than the previous version, and the video above offers some great inspiration on how to use it.

And that’s just the beginning. Here are some other “eat from the rainbow” resources that can help make healthful foods appealing to kids of all ages…

And here’s a free printable handout about eating a variety of healthful foods…

Rainbow Salad Handout

4 Breakfast Options for Everyone

Mornings are busy. That’s just how it is. But does that busyness mean that a healthful breakfast is impossible?

It doesn’t.

Yes, it might be impossible to sit down to a multi-course, elaborate breakfast each and every morning, but there are a surprising number of simple, balanced, and healthful breakfasts that can please the whole family. Let’s take a look at some top contenders.

BurritoBreakfast Option #1: Make Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast burritos are infinitely adaptable, easy to travel with, and great vehicles for healthful ingredients. Scramble some eggs or egg whites, add drained and rinsed canned beans and some salsa and you’ve got a great base for endless innovation. Sauté some peppers and onions to roll into the burritos, or bulk them up with cubes of sweet potato. You could also add nonfat plain Greek yogurt for a creamy tang. Plus, with a few basic ingredients, everyone can mix and match, ensuring a breakfast that can please a crowd without having to make at least 3 totally different entrees.

By prepping the ingredients the night before, you can make it even easier to make the burritos for breakfast. Just reheat everything while you scramble the eggs. You could even make and assemble breakfast burritos as a family and then freeze a bunch for later. All you’d need to do is reheat and go!

Here are some great ingredients that you can use in breakfast burritos. Which will you pick?

  • Scrambled eggs or egg whites
  • Scrambled tofu
  • Hot sauce
  • Salsa or pico de gallo
  • Drained and rinsed pinto or black beans
  • Cooked lentils
  • Shredded chicken
  • Sautéed peppers and onions
  • Brown rice
  • Cilantro
  • Tomatoes
  • Cubed sweet potatoes or potatoes

ParfaitBreakfast Option #2: Make Parfaits

You’ll minimize cleanup and maximize options with simple breakfast parfaits. And the best part is, everything is infinitely adaptable. Simply layer some granola, nonfat yogurt, and fruit in a glass and you’re good to go. Plus, you can make these in travel mugs if everyone really needs to get out the door in a hurry.

Here are a few fun combinations…

  • Strawberries, nonfat vanilla yogurt, and granola
  • Oranges, fortified soy yogurt, and oat cereal
  • Raspberries and blueberries, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and granola
  • Apples, nonfat plain yogurt with cinnamon, and oat cereal

With protein, calcium, and fiber — not to mention vitamins — these parfaits are nutrient powerhouses.

OatmealBreakfast Option #3: Make Oatmeal

Oatmeal doesn’t deserve it’s blah reputation. With a myriad of toppings, it is infinitely adaptable, and quick-cooking varieties come together speedily, which makes them winners for the morning routine.

If you make a big pot of oatmeal, everyone can top it with whatever they wish. Or you can make different types throughout the week.

Since I’m such a big fan of oatmeal, I’ve made quite a few variations. Here are some of my favorite free recipes…

Smoothie1Breakfast Option #4: Smoothies for Everyone

Here’s another option that can be varied infinitely. Try a few different combinations to find out which ones are best for your family. All you need is…

  • Liquid
    • Skim milk
    • Calcium-fortified soy milk
    • Orange juice
    • Water
    • Nut milk
    • Green tea
  • Fruit
    • Strawberries
    • Blueberries
    • Pineapple
    • Mango
    • Cherries
    • Oranges
    • Apples
    • Banana
  • Smoothie2Ice
  • Extras
    • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • Low-fat light vanilla yogurt
    • Peanut butter
    • Cocoa powder
    • Ground flaxseed
    • Cinnamon
    • Oats
    • Silken tofu

You can assemble these in the blender the night before, put the blender in the fridge overnight, then whirr everything together in the morning.

Oh, and for more smoothie inspiration, check out the free smoothie recipe collection.


That was a lot of information about breakfast. Which options will your clients love? Which will you try? For a great recipe to help everyone get off on the right foot, try this Sunrise Smoothie, excerpted from our top-selling Home Run Meals Cookbook. The handout is free, it’s here, and it’s yours. Get your copy today!

Sunrise Smoothie Handout

If you like what you see in the handout, consider getting a copy of the Home Run Cooking Book. I wrote this book as the perfect introduction to healthful cooking, and included all of my favorite meals that have been home-runs for family and friends alike. This book walks its readers through grocery shopping, meal planning, proper knife use and safety, food safety, cooking with moist or dry heat, cooking basics, measuring basics, etc. Then it features a wide variety of guaranteed-hit recipes that have been rigorously tested and beautifully photographed, from breakfast to lunch to dinner, and even snacks and dessert! Get your book today!

Home Run Cooking

There are tons of other cooking resources in the Nutrition Education Store. Here are some of our newest bestsellers…

Learn to Cook Workbook

Kitchen Math and Measuring DVD

Portion Control Tearpad

Shopping Presentation

Breakfast Puzzle

Celebrate breakfast with this fun, free puzzle. There’s even a handout that you can share as you see fit!

Breakfast Puzzle


1. This low-calorie breakfast bread is a great option when you’re grabbing a meal on the go. Hint: Think muffins.
2. A ___ ____ food is a food that includes the entire grain kernel. It has more fiber and nutrients than a refined grain food.
3. This MyPlate food group includes oranges, grapefruits, bananas, and berries.
4. This is the title of your first meal of the day.
7. The name of this warm, heart-healthy, cooked grain cereal begins with the letter “o.”
8. Choose whole grain versions of this grain food for breakfast.


1. This is the fat-free part of the egg.
4. This thick-skinned, yellow fruit is great to eat on the go. It even comes with its own wrapper.
5. Fat-free milk is also known as ___ ____.
6. This dairy food is great for a quick breakfast on the go.

Stumped? The answers are at the bottom of this post!

Don’t miss these other great nutrition education materials!

Erasable Breakfast Menu Poster

Health Fair Wellness Kit

Salad Secrets Cookbook

Puzzle Answers:


1. EnglishMuffin
2. WholeGrain
3. Fruit
4. Breakfast
7. Oatmeal
8. Cereal


1. EggWhite
4. Banana
5.  Yogurt
6. SkimMilk

Breakfast Out

For many eating breakfast out is a real treat. It’s a great way to start the day and also reconnect with family and friends. But, how can you eat breakfast out and still strive for “healthful”? I asked this question of the participants in my weight loss and healthy eating class. They had some great responses:

• Only eat one egg—you can be satisfied with just one. Many people eat two out of habit.

• One couple liked to share a two egg breakfast at a local restaurant –each got one egg, one slice of whole wheat toast and one slice of bacon. It saves calories and helps the budget, too. I was pleased to hear this response because at an earlier class session they were complaining about what a restaurant charged for two eggs without the bread. They learned that they should keep the bread—make it whole grain– and just cut the portions. Yeah!

• Go for a veggie omelet— one class member really liked spinach omelets. She confessed that she hasn’t gotten the “nerve” to “hold the cheese”, yet. My thoughts…for her…why not go for an egg white vegetable omelet and keep the cheese. It’s a trade-off. Vegetable omelets are a great way to help meet that daily vegetable recommendation.

• There was also a discussion of splitting that veggie omelet breakfast to control portion sizes. That gives each diner ½ an omelet, one piece whole-grain toast, a ½ fruit, a small amount of potatoes. They admitted that they didn’t need that larger meal and weren’t really hungry with just half.

Egg white sandwiches at fast food breakfast places aren’t awful. You can take the Canadian bacon off, or feel comfortable that it has more protein and less fat than “regular” bacon.

Overall we were in agreement that oatmeal at a restaurant can be costly and quite often “instant” and not a good source of fiber. Also eating cold cereal out didn’t usually offer good options for high fiber and low sugar. Restaurants tend not have low-fat or skim milk or yogurts available. It’s also a budget thing—most did not want to spend the money for what they got for these items out.

Overall, eating breakfast at home provides more healthful options. But we all agreed, with some careful selections, a friendly restaurant and perhaps even an agreeable dining companion; eating breakfast at a restaurant does not have to sabotage an otherwise healthful diet.

Here are a few delicious recipes to make breakfast at home

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Check out our breakfast poster:


and our new My Plate Photo Poster in 18X24 (also available as 12X18)

My Plate Poster

Quinoa…is it a name or a grain?

Quinoa and  Brown Rice Pilaf

Quinoa and Brown Rice Pilaf

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t totally understand Pinterest.  But, my cousin seems to really be into it. She recently shared on her Facebook wall several things she learned on Pinterest.  I chuckled at one of them…

People actually are naming their daughters Quinoa.

But, laughed even harder at her comment….

 Um, that’s sort of like calling them Oatmeal isn’t it?

I guess quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is one of those things most people don’t  know a lot about.  For some it might just be a good “Q” word to play on Words with Friends or Scrabble.  I guess to others…it’s an interesting new child’s name.

I’ve heard about quinoa for years, but my cousin’s post inspired me to try it out.  I didn’t have to go to a specialty food store to find it. Our local discount store had several versions.

My cousin wasn’t far off when she likened it to oatmeal.  It’s close.  Quinoa resembles a grain in use and appearance and it has frequently been called an ancient “grain”.  But it’s really a seed.  This grain-like crop has been eaten for thousands of years in South America. If you’ve never seen it, quinoa is a small seed that resembles millet or couscous.  It can be used as a you would rice, pasta or oatmeal.

White quinoa--uncooked and cooked

White quinoa–uncooked and cooked

uncooked quinoa

uncooked quinoa

cooked white quinoa

cooked white quinoa

Compared with grains, quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse containing a high amount of complete protein, soluble and insoluble fiber and unsaturated fats.  It also contains iron, magnesium and zinc and is gluten-free.


The United Nations General Assembly Food and Agricultural Organization feels so strongly about the role of quinoa as a high quality food for health and food security, they have declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. They noted the exceptional nutritional qualities of quinoa and its potential contribution in the fight against worldwide hunger and malnutrition.

In the US, generally you can find red, white or black quinoa. White is the most common. The flavor has been described as nutty or “earthy”.   I thought it was fairly bland and seemed to pick up the flavors of what it’s cooked with. I’ve been told that red quinoa has more flavor, but it’s more difficult to find.  Most of the prepared mixtures I found combined it with brown rice, vegetables and seasonings.

Like rice, pasta, wheat or couscous, quinoa is very versatile.  It can be used as you would any of these grains—as a pilaf, risotto, in soups or drinks.  Most people I talked with that eat quinoa like it best mixed with other grains. Another  breakfast idea:  cold cooked quinoa with yogurt and fruit or hot like oatmeal.

Some quick quinoa tips:

  •   1 cup dry = 3 cups cooked.
  •   The cooking ratio is 1 1/2 to 2 cups liquid to each cup of dry seeds.
  •   It cooks quickly:  bring the liquid and quinoa to a boil, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed (10—15 minutes)
  • When cooked,  quinoa will become translucent and a white ring will appear along the outside edge of the seeds. This is the “germ”.
  • According to the USDA one cup cooked quinoa contains 222 calories, 8 grams of protein,  5 grams of fiber and 3.5 grams of fat.

Hey Oatmeal…..or Quinoa…’s time to eat.

Here is a delicious Quinoa Berry Salad

close-up cooked quinoa

close-up cooked quinoa

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Whole grain breakfast cereal with quinoa

Whole grain breakfast cereal with quinoa


Bacon, bacon…who’s got the bacon?


We recently had house guests and served bacon for breakfast.  The husband got all excited, saying “Wow, real bacon, my wife only allows me to have turkey bacon.”  I, personally, had never considered switching to turkey bacon; I’ve always thought that some folks switch to turkey products falsely thinking they are eating more healthful.  But this got me thinking and wondering.

So, I bought two packages of bacon. One turkey and one pork.  At first glance they look similar. But under closer scrutiny the first obvious difference is the turkey bacon was a 12 ounce package. The number of slices differed, too.  You got 15 slices in the 16-ounces of pork and 22 slices in the 12-ounces of turkey.  So, obviously, the weights of the slices were smaller in the turkey bacon. All of this makes in-store comparison difficult.

Compare the Nutrition Facts labels for serving sizes:

  • The pork bacon lists serving sizes as 2 slices (I guess they are being practical that no one could eat just one.)
  • The turkey bacon identifies serving size as 1 slice. 

So, let’s compare them slice-to-slice.

                                                                Pork                                       Turkey

Calories:                                               40                                           35

Total fat:                                              3.5  grams                            3 grams

Saturated fat:                                    1.25  grams                         1 gram

Cholesterol:                                         10 mg                                    15 mg

Protein                                                 2.5 grams                             2 grams

Sodium                                                 150 mg                                  180 mg 

The turkey bacon label promotes that their bacon “gives you all the great bacon taste you want with 50% less fat.”   The package says they used the USDA nutrition data for pork  bacon to come up with that statement.  But the math from the two packages I compared just didn’t show that.


They also list 6% Daily Value of Vitamin C in the turkey bacon.  I don’t usually think about bacon as a source of vitamin C so I called the company. They responded that the Vitamin C comes from the soy. The last item on the ingredient list is soy lecithin.               

I then cooked them and compared the products.

Turkey bacon cooking

The cooked weight of the pork bacon was 4.2 ounces and the turkey bacon was 6.25 ounces. So there was obviously less loss of fat and moisture in the turkey product. It’s important to note that the turkey bacon was completely pre-cooked.  After cooking there was ½ cup of fat that could be drained from the pork bacon. There was very little fat in the pan where the turkey bacon was cooked.

Comparing the final cooked product: you got lots more turkey bacon on the plate (see photo). The turkey slices didn’t shrink as much. The turkey bacon is “smoked cured turkey chopped and formed”.  That was very obvious in the texture.  It’s hard to describe, but I guess the best way is that it was “chewier”.   This isn’t noticeable when the bacon is added to a sandwich or eaten combined with other foods, but just on a plate for breakfast, this chewy texture was obvious.

Cook comparison pork vs. turkey bacon

12 ounces of turkey bacon, cooked


So, what’s my overall thought as a result of this comparison? 

  • The overall fat, calories and sodium are very comparable.  Although the turkey product is slightly lower in fat and calories than the pork it is slightly higher in sodium. 
  • Flavor and texture-wise I guess I’d vote for the pork bacon. 
  • If you’re comparing price, you get more cooked edible product for the money in the turkey bacon.   

Bacon (pork or turkey) is really one of those products generally thought of as an “occasional” food.  There is very little “good nutrition” in any kind of bacon.   But, most people like it now and again for the flavor and you can’t beat a BLT sandwich. 

But, you can get a lot of flavor from perhaps a little less bacon.  Maybe go for 2 slices instead of 3 and then only every so often (like when you have special guests for breakfast.)  A small amount of bacon chopped could go a long way to add flavor to a recipe.

They may also be other companies that make different bacon products that might actually give you a little less sodium or little less saturated fat than those I purchased.  You’ll need to do your own nutrition comparisons.  Both products also are considered “processed meats” and do contain nitrates and other preservatives that might be contraindicated in some diets.

But overall I don’t think “whole hog” switching to turkey bacon is doing you any favors nutritionally.

My problem now: What do I do with all this cooked bacon?

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus,
The Ohio State University