QUICK AND Easy Breakfast is not a new kind of food substitute or even part of a fast-food jingle. It is, instead, the rallying cry of area consumer and civic groups in an aggressive education blitz they're mounting during March for National Nutrition Month.
"Like it or not, most of us are in a hurry," says Anna Kanianthra, nutritionist with Virginia's Health Department. "If we want to improve diets, we may have to package nutrition a little better."
To package breakfast so it will sell, nutritionists are dressing up like oranges and eggs, and schoolchildren are designing menu posters or making their favorite "Sunrise Sandwiches," while grocery stores and shopping centers plan to give dietitians time and space to talk to consumers at the point of purchase.
Even more to the point, local nutrition groups are serving breakfast. The Metropolitan Nutrition Council's Marcia Stephenson blended breakfast shakes last week for area disc jockeys. Commuters, school kids or anyone who hates to cook in the morning can pick up a well-balanced breakfast at Loudoun County's Extension Service building on March 17. "we'll serve you hot, tasty food as fast as McDonald's," says Loudoun Nutrition Council's Ann Browning. "Only our menu stays within the dietary guidelines."
In the last few years, nutrition groups have sprung up like so many mushrooms after a rain. "We have to do something to counter the mass advertising of packaged foods," says Beth Oscanyan, speaking for Loudoun's year-old group. Though health clinics and talks to PTAs, through sale of minimally processed foods at public events that normally only offer doughnuts, popcorn or soft drinks, nutrition-conscious volunteers are peddling dietary guidelines at the grassroots level.
The 10-year Iowa Breakfast Studies showed that people who do not eat breakfast suffer from lower work performances and longer reaction times than those who do. The studies also indicated that all ages need to eat an adequate breakfast; however, only one out of 20 Americans eats one. "It's easy to find reasons not to," says Fairfax Extension Agent Denise Shaw. "People tell you they don't have time to fix breakfast, when it doesn't have to take longer than it does to shave or heat up your curlers." There are many rationalizations for not eating breakfast. According to the Metropolitan Nutrition Council, the person who says, "I'm trying to lose weight, so I'll skip breakfast" usually ends up eating high-calorie, low nutrient snacks by lunchtime. As for the excuse "coffee is all I need to get going in the morning," the council says that work performances of someone who drinks coffee are as poor as for someone who eats nothing.
National averages show that one-fourth of all American children go without any breakfast, and figures may be worse locally. In a poll of 1,400 Montgomery County students, 46 percent reported they did not eat breakfast, according to Laurine Mennell, Nutrition Education and Training specialist there.
With more and more women entering the work force at the same time the Reagan administration has proposed cuts in child-nutrition funds, the Metropolitan Nutrition Council hopes to educate children as well as adults. Fairfax, Montgomery, Prince William counties and Alexandria are running poster contests, offering fresh fruit or breakfast with the mayor to schoolchildren designing the best breakfast menu. In Manassas and Woodbridge, the Extension Service taught preschoolers how to fix their own breakfasts. Prince William high school kids are constructing Dagwood-style sandwiches in breakfast cook-offs.
"We think traditional big breakfasts are great," says D.C. Dietetics Association's Lynn Ockert, "but there are also plenty of quick foods that provide adequate nutrients." The Metropolitan Nutrition Council recommends breakfast quickies like fruit and cheese, hard-boiled eggs, sardines and toast, or boosting the food value of low-sugar cereals by adding nuts and fruit. For those who like breakfast hot, there are bean soup, chili, pizza made with whole-wheat pita or English muffins, waffles topped with sliced fruit, tacos with refried beans and biscuits with ham or cheese. ORANGE EGG (1 serving) 1 cup of orange juice 1 egg 2 tablespoons honey 2 or 3 ice cubes
Blend all ingredients in a blender until ice stops rattling. Drink at once. MIRACLE MUFFINS (60 muffins) 6 cups all-bran cereal 3/4 cup molasses 2 cups boiling water 1/2 cup oil 5 eggs, beaten 1 quart buttermilk 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour 4 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt
Soften bran and molasses with water. Mix well and add oil, eggs and buttermilk, beating with each addition. Combine dry ingredients and add to batter, without over-beating. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (for up to 6 weeks). Bake in greased muffin tins at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.