Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Before I launch into some great healthy ideas for breakfast, I just want to touch upon the big question; ‘what is healthy?”
For some it’s low carb, for some it’s low fat, and for others it’s high fibre. In the 70’s a healthy breakfast was deemed a grapefruit, in the 80’s Special K made their pinch-an-inch marketing drive the breakfast must have du jour, and in the 90’s a blueberry muffin was the go! It’s really not surprising that we are more confused than ever. But for me, in the 2000’s, the basics for eating healthy are unprocessed, nutrient-rich and low-in-refined-sugar foods.
Healthy breakfasts: Unprocessed, nutrient rich and low in refined sugar
So what constitutes an unprocessed, nutrient-rich and low-in-refined-sugar breakfast? Well I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.
First off, the bad news; there is nothing* in the cereal aisle that fits the bill. All the mass made cereals have too much added sugar. Muffins have too much sugar. Pancakes and waffles? Forget it. So whatever healthy breakfast idea you choose from the options I’m about to offer, you will have to put a small amount of effort into making it.
Now for the good news! Some of the healthy choices below that you do decide to try for breakfast are easy to make, and some can be made ahead of time (some in bulk) which will still allow you maximum time in bed and minimum time preparing breakfast!
So, keeping this as simple as possible but still tasty and healthy, let’s go…
Our star performers – winners of the ‘breakfast superfood’ award!
Good for you on SO many levels. It can reduce your risk of heart disease, lowers cholesterol, enhances your immune defence system, stabilises blood sugar, helps prevent diabetes and can help fight cancer.
Eggs are a nutrient-dense high protein food. They used to get a bad rap in past decades but have now emerged to be seen as one of nature’s superfoods. They have approximately 100mg of choline in them, which is an often forgotten nutrient that helps build cells, and they can also help reduce your risk of heart disease. Of course, they have a lot of protein, carrying all the essential amino acids, and not only that, but they also have them in the right ratio that the body requires! They are great for eye health and keep you full for longer, which can help you lose weight.
With 20 different vitamins and minerals (including more potassium than a banana) plus a stack of healthy fat, the avocado sits high on the superfood pyramid. It’s one of the fattiest foods on the planet but the majority of the fat is in the form of a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which can reduce blood pressure, help with inflammation and help fight cancer. It can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your LDL cholesterol and actually helps your body absorb more nutrients from your other foods – especially your fat-based vitamins (A, D, E, K). Avocado is also high in fibre which induces satiety sooner, which can help with weight loss.
High in protein and calcium, Greek yoghurt is also high in probiotics. Probiotics are SO essential for your body. It’s not just about having a higher ratio of ‘good’ bacteria vs ‘bad’ bacteria so that you’ll be less likely to fall ill, healthy bacteria is far more important than that; it is in fact essential for many life-sustaining functions. Probiotics also enhance energy, which makes Greek yoghurt an excellent choice for a healthy breakfast to get your energy levels revved up in the morning!
The support act
Fruit & Vegetables
There are far too many to list, but fruit and vegetables are an excellent addition to any healthy breakfast choice. Awash with vitamins and minerals and other nutrients, they should be consumed daily and in high quantity (especially the veggies!)
So maligned in the ‘low fat’ crazy 90’s, nuts are a serious contender for superfood of the year from me. Not just for their densely-packed nutrient little selves, but also for the portability, the flavour, the crunch… the whole nutty nine yards in fact! Nuts are best to be soaked overnight before eating, to get the most nutrients out of them.
Chia, hemp, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, wheat germ. All of these are tiny powerhouses of body-loving nutrients; protein, fibre, iron, vitamins, omega 3. They are the easiest nutritionally-dense food on the planet to incorporate into your diet. Your pantry is begging you to stock up on some of these seeds.
Although dried fruit can be dense in fructose, they still carry a hefty vitamin punch for their size and are fantastic natural sweeteners. They are great to include into muesli, granola bars or just to sweeten a bit of oats. Just make sure to check the packets to ensure that no added sugar has been included.
Some great recipes including these must have, start of the day, breakfast superfoods:
Make beforehand and store:
On the Run
Poached egg and avocado on toast
Mushroom and spinach omelette
Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit and seeds
Baked fruit oats
Bringing home the bacon
I was brought up in Yorkshire, England, and during the week we had porridge for breakfast (often slightly burnt, and we gagged as we forced it down our throats!) but for the weekend, if all was going well in our household we had a fry up. OMG I love a good fry up with fat pork sausages, bacon, thick bread, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. BUT… As the WHO (World Health Organisation) stated this week, sausages and bacon are now a no-no. They are, in fact, evil cancer-giving foods dressed up in the best smelling outfits known to man. So, should you be tossing out the bacon and sausages and eating oats for the rest of your life? Not necessarily! (according to moi!) Everything in life should be taken in moderation – including moderation.
Sausages are very easy to make yourself without any curing or adding any of the ‘crap’ that goes into commercial sausages. In Scotland they have ‘square’ sausages, which are the best way to make them at home. That way you don’t need the skin (which is normally animal intestines); you just make a patty like a beef burger. Take ground pork and fat (about a 20% fat to meat ratio), add lots of your favourite herbs, add some ground seeds (a little chia and sunflower) to add a little goodness to your ‘not quite in-moderation day’, bind together with a little egg, and you can even add some flaxseeds too. Make into a patty and voila – a delicious sausage! Not the healthiest thing you eat that week I’m sure, but a damn sight better than any shop-bought stuff.
How about the bacon though? Oh my! Possibly one of the world’s most favourite foods. Certainly one of mine. Well, I did mention the word ‘moderation’ earlier. The WHO has stated that less than 2 slices of bacon a day could increase your chances of cancer by 18%. So you bacon-lovers, let’s practice that moderation, and aim for 2 slices every other week. A bit of bacon can go a long long way in a recipe. Chop it up really small and add it to your scrambled eggs (and add some seeds!) and your halo has hardly slipped at all!
Breakfasts around the world – healthy or not?
As I mentioned before, in Yorkshire a full ‘fry up’ would often include blood sausage (black pudding), baked beans and if there isn’t enough ‘lard’ on your plate, fried bread too, generally all washed down with a cuppa tea. That was the norm for us, especially on weekends.
Congee, is more the norm for breakfast in China. A rice porridge, which is often served with different ‘flavours’. I have had fish congee before and I gagged more on that than I did on my mum’s burnt porridge. Disgusting.
Europe has a nice idea for breakfast. Different breads and croissants served with ham (oops, better read that WHO report guys), cheeses and preserves.
Morocco has a semolina-based pancake called Bagir, and also a crumpet-style bread (yum – love those crumpets!)
Australia is well known for their Vegemite (full of B12) and when we were living there, my kids certainly partook of vegemite on toast most mornings (it’s right up there with fish congee for me!)
How about a traditional Thai breakfast? Semolina porridge with pork intestine stuffed with pork mince, heart and blood. Yum… or not.
Start your day the right way and you will bounce through your day with oodles of energy and a shiny halo!
*There are now some healthy muesli and small brand healthy choice cereals in deli and speciality stores. But it is still cheaper to make your own and so simple!!