The “Rule of 3” for a Better Breakfast

Mix and match your way to a high performance breakfast!

hummus fruit whole grain breakfast

Most kids and adults fall short when it comes to eating enough whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Breakfast provides a great opportunity to squeeze in more healthy foods and boost overall nutrient intake. To achieve a breakfast meal with an optimal balance of nutrients, follow the Rule of 3:

Rule 1

Include one serving of a protein-rich food such as eggs, lean meats, beans, nut or seeds (and their butters) or protein-rich dairy sources such as milk, yogurt or cheese. Protein stabilizes blood sugar, delays hunger and provides the building blocks for body growth, maintenance and repair.

  • A serving is 1 egg, ¼ cup beans, 1 tbsp. nut butter, 2 tbsp. nuts or seeds, or 1 oz. lean meat. For dairy, it is 8 ounces of milk or regular yogurt, 5-6 ounces Greek yogurt or 1.5 ounces of cheese.

Rule 2

Add a serving of whole grain to supply sustained slow-release energy, fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, iron and other trace minerals.

  • A grain serving is considered 1 ounce. Examples include one small slice of whole wheat bread, a 6 inch whole corn or whole wheat tortilla, ½ cup cooked oatmeal or 1 oz. low sugar whole grain breakfast cereal (varies by product, check the label to determine the serving size).

Rule 3

Incorporate a minimum of ½ cup of a colorful, nutrient-boosting fruit or vegetable to strengthen the immune system with vitamins A & C, potassium, and folate, as well as hundreds of additional phytonutrients and antioxidants.

  • Examples of a 1/2 cup serving include 1 small orange, 16 grapes, 4 large strawberries, 1/2 cup fresh salsa, 1/2 cup roasted sweet potatoes, or 1 cup chopped spinach. 

Mix & Match Your Morning Menu 

The table below provides simple “mix and match” menu ideas packed with nutrient-rich foods. Variety is the key when designing a breakfast that will supply enough energy to last throughout the morning.

Choose a food from each column to build a delicious “rule of 3” menu with the perfect mix of nutrients.

Protein or Dairy

Whole Grain

Fruit or Vegetable

Cheese – string,
sliced or grated

Whole grain granola






Quinoa flakes

Berries, fresh or frozen


Whole corn grits (also known as polenta)

Cherry tomatoes

Lean ham or sausage

Whole corn or flour tortilla



Whole grain
homemade muffin
Most commercial muffins are essentially cupcakes! Try my blueberry muffins or other lower sugar recipes.

Fresh Salsa


Whole grain mini-bagel

Melon slices

Nut and Seed butters
Peanut butter
Almond butter
Sunflower seed butter
Cashew butter

Whole grain ready-to-eat cereal
Look for a product with the first ingredient(s) as whole grains, at least 3 grams dietary fiber and 6 or fewer grams of sugar per serving.

Pear, peach or apple slices

Refried beans

Whole grain toaster waffle

Pineapple chunks

Sharp cheddar, grated

Whole wheat Pita bread

Potatoes with skin, baked or roasted


Whole grain toast

Sweet potatoes, baked or roasted

Cottage cheese

Whole grain English muffin



One comment

  • Hi there! “Rule of three” this sounds good, I didn’t know that. Well, what I only aware of is the rule of thirds in photography. Thanks for sharing! Very interesting topic, I love it.


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