If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, like everyone says, then shouldn’t this meal include something healthier than greasy bacon, sugary cereals, or syrupy pancakes? An ideal breakfast is one that maximizes energy with the right balance of protein and high-fiber carbs. It should fuel your body for the day while filling you up enough to keep you from indulging in a late-morning snack.
We asked long-distance runner and cyclist Tonya Graf, of The Bagel Place, to share a few of her favorite healthy breakfast ideas, including a recipe for raw energy bars, high protein smoothie, and a healthy, homemade electrolyte drink.
Electrolyte Replacement Drink 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 3/4 cup coconut water 1/8 teaspoon sea salt 2 tablespoons honey
Pour all ingredients into blender and process until honey is dissolved. Ice can be added to create a slushy drink if desired.
Makes 1 serving
Berry Energy Smoothie 2 cups mango juice (I like Naked brand) 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups mixed frozen berries
Place all ingredients into blender. Blend on high until smooth. Scrape down sides and blend again for 30 seconds. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars 4 ripe bananas, mashed 1 cup natural peanut butter 1 cup chopped, roasted cashews 1/2 cup flake coconut 1/2 cup sliced almonds 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups old-fashioned oats
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Line a 9- by 13-inch pan with parchment paper. Spread batter evenly over parchment with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until edges are golden brown. Cool completely and cut into slices.
Makes 16 servings
Meet the Cook: Tonya Graf of The Bagel Place
Tonya Graf was a college student when her parents opened The Bagel Place. At the time, her father, John Petty, was an engineer at Owens Corning who’d always had an entrepreneurial streak. Graf’s mother, Mary, was a schoolteacher. The couple thought Amarillo needed a traditional bagel shop and, after learning the trade from a bagel maker in Dallas, opened their restaurant in 1994.
“My mom had me sitting up on the kitchen counter from the time I could walk, teaching me how to bake,” Graf says on a recent weekday once the hectic lunch crowd has thinned out. “That’s something I have loved my whole life. I decorated cakes when I was in elementary school and entered them into the fair.”
In fact, Graf worked her way through college as a part-time cake decorator at a bakery in Denton. She returned to Amarillo to teach special education for the Amarillo Independent School District, but found herself filling in often at The Bagel Place, where she would bake and decorate cakes. “I would work there during summers,” she explains. “I’ve always been helping out in some capacity on weekends or for holidays ever since they started.”
After starting A Tasteful Touch, a separate catering business with her mother and aunt, Tonya decided two years ago to join her brother, Brian Petty, full-time at the restaurant. “My brother and I manage the business and employees. I do a lot of the baking and breakfast cooking.” She says it’s been a long time since she made the bagels, “but I’m involved in pretty much everything else.” The Bagel Place has become well-known in recent years not only for its fresh bagels but its enormous breakfast burritos and fresh lunch menu.
When not keeping long restaurant hours, Graf moonlights as an endurance athlete. “I guess I’ve been running my whole life,” she says. That’s Running with a capital R. Graf’s race resume includes everything from local 5Ks to marathons and even 50K ultra-marathons. In the wake of a string of knee surgeries, she’s turned lately to cycling and mountain biking, and believes breakfast is a great way to fuel these endeavors.
She says the fruit and nuts in the energy bars provide a good balance of carbohydrates and protein that not only help pick you up, but carry over into your day. “These will make you feel full for awhile,” says Graf. She loves adding protein to smoothies, too, using peanut butter or Greek yogurt to help with muscle recovery after a workout. Graf enjoys her homemade electrolyte replacement drink for the same reason. In a world of commercial sports drinks filled with artificial flavors and additives, it’s a better way to restore fluids and stay hydrated after a challenging workout.
by Jason Boyett
Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.