In the last of my series of posts on good-to-go breakfasts I thought it would be helpful to run through my list of “everything else”; that is, all the other things I tend to eat for breakfast when I’m in a hurry that are not Egg Pots, Porridge Bake or Frittata. Some of these involve pre-prepared items that I keep in the freezer; others are more a throw-together kind of option.
My top tip for getting together a decent breakfast is: think outside the box. Literally. No boxed bars, cereals or other highly-processed packaged options.
The majority of you reading this article have probably grown up with the convention of breakfast involving either a) something sweet like cereal, a muffin or toast or b) a savoury fry up, bacon-and-egg affair. Some aspects of these breakfasts are acceptable. I’ve got nothing against eggs or even bacon, if it’s good quality. But the stereotypical versions of these meals are nutrient-poor and most contain far too much sugar and refined carbohydrate (and little else).
As we discussed in week one of my breakfast posts, eating a meal with quality protein and healthy fats early in the day will keep you satisfied for longer, not to mention giving your body nutrients that it actually needs! Every meal is an opportunity to fuel your body with foods that contain the materials that our body uses to grow, regenerate and perform ongoing metabolic activities like energy production. These are the elements that you need to involve in your morning meal.
- Protein. Proteins that work well in breakfasts: eggs, chia seeds, quinoa, buckwheat, natural yoghurt, feta cheese, ricotta, cottage cheese, bacon, salmon, sardines, mackerel, crap-free sausages (if you read the packet and don’t recognise the ingredients in the sausage, it’s not a crap-free sausage), quality protein powder (vegan e.g. pea/hemp/rice or whey based).
- Good Fat. Fats that work well in breakfasts: organic pastured/grass-fed butter, avocado, tahini, nut butters, seed butters (i.e. pumpkin or sunflower seed butter, not margarine!!), olive oil, coconut cream/milk, nuts, seeds (plus the majority of proteins listed will also provide some fat).
- Vegetables and/or Fruit. The list is pretty much endless here but the traditional ones are probably spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, potato and sweet potato for vegetables, and most fruits. Try to focus on the vegetable part of this as much as you can – one or two pieces of fruit per day is ample, whereas it’s great to aim for five or more servings of vegetables. The vegetable and fruit part of your breakfast is so important. By incorporating a colourful variety of these in your meal, you add i) an array of essential micronutrients (e.g. orange vegetables will give you an excellent dose of carotenoids, important antioxidant compounds), ii) fibre (insoluble and soluble forms, depending on the food chosen) and iii) bulk to your meal, increasing satiety.
Smoothies and Chia Puddings
Simple and quite slurpable breakfasts. Chia pudding when you remember to prep it beforehand (chia pudding will last a few days in the fridge, so you can do a batch for say, 3 days). Smoothies when you just haven’t prepped a thing.
Chia pudding is very, very easy to prep. If you haven’t tried it before and you really want to work some new, healthier meals in to your eating habits, it’s such a great thing to start with because it’s simple and the basic recipe is so flexible. Try my Simple Vanilla Chia Pudding for a base recipe, or if you’re in to something a bit different (and with vegetables included!) give my Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding a try.
When I’m having a smoothie for breakfast, I like to make it very thick, put it in to a bowl and top it with something crunchy. Doing so encourages me to sit down, chew my food and eat breakfast mindfully. This is so important! You will be much more satisfied and your digestion will function optimally if you take time to eat your smoothie and chew thoroughly. When we chew we signal to our stomach that food is coming. Salivary amylase is produced in the mouth which is the first step of the food-breakdown process (amylase works to pre-digest starches before they get to your stomach). While the chewing is going on your stomach can prepare for food and your pancreas can start squirting out the other necessary enzymes for the next phase of digestion.
Science lesson over, here are two top smoothie ideas. I like my Green Protein Smoothie Bowl for a veggie-loaded start to the day. Another fave of mine is The Natural Nutritionist’s Breakfast Antioxidant Bowl. These smoothies combine a good mix of vegetables, fruit, fat and protein – all the elements of a great breakfast.
Yes, I have spent the last few weeks totally shunning toast, and I’m not doing a turnaround here. A heap of toast on its own won’t do anything for you. A slice or two of high quality bread can form the base of a decent breakfast if dressed up well. Some suggestions:
- Generous smear of tahini, 2 boiled eggs sliced, salt & pepper;
- Mashed avocado, sliced tomato and smoked salmon;
- Sardines or mackerel with baby spinach leaves;
- Organic cottage cheese or ricotta, sliced strawberries and chia seeds.
What bread? Honestly, I struggle to buy bread. One that I have found over here in London is Biona’s millet bread, which is gluten-free and crap-free and also comes in nice thin slices so I can just use a little and stack it with toppings (which are actually the main event for me). Back in Australia I often bought Naturis’ Buckwheat Bread. I prefer to make my own bread at home – see the next suggestion.
Homemade Breakfast Breads or Muffins
When you’re in a baking mood, whipping up something breakfast friendly and whacking it in the freezer is always a good idea. I always try to keep a loaf or some muffins in mine. My new current favourite is my Grainfree Zucchini Bread, which is delicious, dense and protein-rich thanks to the eggs and flaxseed I use in it. Sometimes I make a baby-size smoothie and enjoy it with slice of this toasted on the side, just as is.
Other options from me and from around the web:
- My Vegan Buckwheat Bread;
- This super easy Paleo Bread from Elana’s Pantry;
- I Quit Sugar’s Leftover Veggie Bread;
- Natural Nutrition’s Pumpkin and Feta Loaf;
- Balanced Bites Carrot Pumpkin Spice Muffins;
- Savoury Muffins from Eat Drink Paleo; and
- The Healthy Chef’s Fruit Loaf for when you just need to eat some kind of raisin toast.
When all else fails – what do you have sitting around in the fridge from a previous meal? If you don’t mind pushing your breakfast boundaries a little bit, lunch or dinner leftovers often make a much more nutritious option than the typical breakfast choices. This might be as simple as grabbing some leftover stir fry or a casserole out of the fridge and warming it up a little. Or, if you have a few minutes, you can pop leftover meat and veggies into a pan and crack in an egg or two, making a “breakfast hash” of sorts. This works the best with leftover cooked veggies; pop them in and crack in a couple eggs. Pretty version below. Tip: for an even faster cooking version, don’t wait for the eggs to set, whisk them together and make a scrambled-egg version instead.
I hope that you have enjoyed my series of breakfast posts this month, and have been experimenting a little bit more in your kitchen! If you come up with a killer breakfast combination don’t forget to tag me on Facebook or Instagram; I would love to see what you come up with as I’m always looking for speedy, nourishing meals to power me out the door in the morning. And if you have any nutrition questions that you think would make a good article, you can always contact me too! xx