They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (whoever they are). However, I’ve met people who practise intermittent fasting who would disagree with that statement. Many people don’t eat breakfast at all for a variety of reasons; some people just aren’t hungry first thing in the morning. Personally, I think it’s good to go with your gut on this one, literally! If you wake up starving ( like I do most days), go ahead and eat! If you’re not hungry, don’t force yourself to eat. ‘Breakfast’ literally means breaking the night-long fast. Whether you break that fast at 6am or noon, I think we can all agree that the first thing you eat can set the tone for how you’re going to feel all day.
My goal for the next six months is to gradually increase my energy and stamina. Especially with the winter months here, it’s normal for me to experience a dip in energy, but I don’t have time to slow down right now. I think the first and most important thing is to make realistic goals; I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m probably never going to be one of those annoying people that leap out of bed with a glad shout, and go run a marathon before breakfast. But I know that I can make simple changes to my lifestyle that will have a positive impact on my mood and energy during the day, and make me think clearer. The first step I’m taking is taking an honest look at my diet.
For the most part, I eat clean and healthy, and my diet includes lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy fats. Breakfast, for me anyway, is the trickiest meal to do right. If I’m pressed for time and end up grabbing something to eat on the go, there just seem to be less healthy choices available than for lunch or dinner. Many restaurants don’t even have salads or fruit available first thing in the morning, so you’re stuck with a breakfast sandwich and hashbrown. Unfortunately, the combination of the bread, processed meat and starchy fried potatoes aren’t going to provide good clean energy to last for hours. Even worse are one of my guilty pleasures- bagels with cream cheese. As awesome tasting and nostalgia-inducing as these little gooey round circles of joy are, they generally lack protein, healthy fat, and just about any other mentionable sustenance.
So, I’ve come up with a list of healthy breakfast options that are also relatively quick and simple to make when you’re all bleary-eyed before your first cup of coffee. Please feel free to share your own recipes and breakfast hacks in the comments!
These amazing fruits make the top of my list because I want to convert as many people to papaya-ism as possible. Papayas are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, and lots of other essential vitamins and minerals. Plus they taste great! Sure, they can be pricey, but generally won’t set you back much more than a breakfast sandwich would. Add some Greek yogurt for protein and you’re good to go!
Oatmeal, although it can be bland, is the perfect combination of protein, fibre, and complex carbohydrates to keep you going. Nuts, dried or fresh fruit, honey and maple syrup are just some of the ways that oatmeal can be jazzed up a bit. If you’re feeling energetic , you can also make a batch of oatmeal muffins for the week so you can something healthy that you can just grab and go.
In fact, you can make overnight oats by mixing steel cut oats with a liquid such as almond or coconut milk in a mason jar and letting them sit in the fridge overnight. Garnish with healthy toppings such as chia seeds, berries, nuts, cacao- get creative and have fun!
Muffin tray eggs
Muffin tray eggs are one of my fave easy and nutritious breakfast. As the name suggests, you basically just whip up some eggs and cook them in a muffin tray. Beat your eggs in a mixing bowl, toss in some diced veggies (I’m partial to onions, peppers, and mushrooms. I like to sautéed them in a frying pan first, but this optional), grease the muffin tray with coconut oil, divide up your egg mixture and toss in the oven on 350 Celsius for about 20 mins until they rise and are cooked throughout. I also like to add a bit of salt, pepper and paprika. This is another recipe where you can experiment with your favourite meats, veggies and cheeses and make it your own.
Rice and beans
Whole grain rice, I find, is a great alternative to greasy and carb laden hashbrowns. Add in some beans for extra protein! You can make a batch of rice and beans to last you all week. Just fry up some eggs (tofu if you’re vegetarian) and veggies and you have a quick and complete breakfast.
Smoothies seem like a no brainer healthy breakfast food, but many people don’t know that they can be made ahead of time and frozen. Just make a big batch and divide them into mason jars and place in the freezer. Take one out the night before and leave in on your counter or in your fridge so that’s thawed by morning. Give it a shake to mix up any ingredients that may have settled and there you go! Just remember to add some protein, either in the form of a powder, Greek yogurt, chia or hemp seeds, or a nut butter to make it a balanced meal. I find that if my smoothie is all fruit and vegetable and no protein, I just wind up hungry and low on energy half an hour later.
Healthy pancakes and waffles
For a healthy pancake, take a ripe banana, mix in a beaten egg (or make a flax egg by combining 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds with 2 tbsp of water in a cup and let sit a few minutes to thicken if you’re vegan), and ½ cup of finely ground oats. You can add a splash of almond milk if you find the mixture is too dry. Simply heat some coconut oil or organic butter in a frying pan and heat on medium for a pancake rich in fiber, protein and healthy fats.
If you aren’t a morning person and just want something you can literally toss in the toaster and go, I recommend Nature’s Path waffles. They are whole grain, organic, non-gmo, and high in healthy omega 3 fats, and are actually quite filling. They come in several different flavours and also have gluten-free varieties.
I think a lot of us are stuck in this rut where we think that breakfast has to consist of some variation of cereal, toast, eggs and bacon. These are very classic western breakfast options. However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having leftover dinner, as long as it’s healthy and balanced, or having “lunch foods” such as wraps, grilled chicken salads, or a veggie stir fry. The other day I heated up some Indian food I had on hand, palak paneer and chickpea masala with brown rice and a chai tea. The spices are so comforting and it energized me way more than bacon and eggs would have. So don’t be afraid to think outside the box and have fun experimenting with healthy breakfast ideas!