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You’ve heard it from your mother a thousand times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  But did you know that as of late, it’s also been the most innovative?

Over the past six months, we’ve watched a surge of interest and investment come into creating innovative fare for early morning diners.  We’ve seen a slew of cool new breakfast options including breakfast pizza, new lite breakfast offerings, and the reintroduction of an old staple: oatmeal.

When it comes to breakfast, pizza probably isn’t the first dish that comes to mind. While many of us have savored the occasional cold pizza slice as a makeshift morning meal on the go, breakfast pizza is taking on new meaning.

In September of last year, Domino’s pizza began offering its breakfast pizza at its only 24-hour location in Dayton, Ohio.  The pizza was served sauceless and featured toppings such as cheese and scrambled eggs, sausage and veggies, or any of Domino’s regularly offered toppings.  What appeared initially as a one-time novelty offering has evolved over the last year to become, dare I say it, a trend in pizza chains. According to a recent article in Nation’s Restaurant News, pizza is now appearing on morning-hour menus around the country. You’ll have to travel to Dayton if you want to try Domino’s breakfast pizza, as it’s not available around the country yet. However, if the Dayton location's sales are any indicator, it probably won’t be long until you’ll have the chance to order up pizza for breakfast in your neck of the woods either.

Next up is a new lite breakfast option for early morning diners looking to grab and go, without paying the price of overindulging and an old favorite: the bagel.

I know, light and bagel don’t seem like natural bedfellows, but alas, Einstein’s has upped the ante with their new bagel thin single and light shmear offering. A pint sized bagel breakfast sandwich, the kicker to this one is its low calorie cost: at only 225 calories, Einstein hopes to target affluent, busy diners looking to satisfy that doughy bagel craving, without sacrificing a pants size.

Moving forward with more health conscious fare, is the introduction of designer oatmeal gracing some fast casual and even fast food menus you may recognize: Starbucks and McDonald’s.

Starbucks began offering oatmeal back in 2008, which hardly makes oatmeal at Starbucks a recent trend. Oatmeal was added to menus as part of an initiative to offer healthier, more calorie conscious fare. The oatmeal is served with brown sugar, dried fruit, and nuts. Weighing in at only 140 calories, Starbucks was first to recognize the grab-n-go superstar potential in this breakfast staple.

Of course, just in the past few weeks, Starbucks got some major breakfast oatmeal competition. McDonald’s introduced its Fruit & Maple oatmeal in the first few days of 2011. While closely resembling the Starbucks oatmeal offering, McDonald’s is offering patrons the option of customizing their oatmeal. By crafting each oatmeal individually, diners are able to select the inclusion of cream, maple syrup, apples and a cranberry-raisin blend. Dependent on how many extras you choose, calorie counts on McDonald’s oatmeal ranges from 190 to 290 calories.

While the breakfast menu continues to elicit exciting new creations and twists on old favorites, including nutrition information as a part of a breakfast menu is always a great idea. For there is no better way to start off on the right foot than fully informed.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner, menu nutrition labeling can help you to better serve your customers. Just sayin’

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Betsy Craig
Betsy Craig brings 20 years of food service industry experience to MenuTrinfo, LLC a menu nutritional labeling Company. Her commitment to the betterment of the food industry and her desire to affect the dining public are the driving forces behind her new company Kitchens with Confidence, LLC.
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