Healthy Meal Series
This post is the first in a series on healthy meals. For the next few weeks, I’ll post about a different meal each week, give you some tips to help you make healthy choices, and provide some recipes for inspiration. So, it seems only fitting to start with breakfast.
While breakfast is certainly an important meal, it is also one that many people skip. The biggest reasons I hear for skipping breakfast are lack of time in the morning, not being hungry, and not knowing what to make. I’ll help bust through all of those reasons (maybe read: excuses?) in this post and give a few things to watch out for when choosing a healthy breakfast.
Let’s tackle the lack of time first.
My husband has the same breakfast every morning. He makes an Ezekiel English muffin, dabs on a homemade rosemary and garlic infused olive oil and puts an over easy egg on each slice of muffin. And, he prides himself on being able to make it in about 4 minutes. He’s obsessed with his breakfast, looks forward to it each morning, and talks about it more than is probably normal – which is just another reason why I love him so. Ok, so that’s a serious breakfast. And, it really only takes him like 4 minutes. You totally have 4 minutes. The reason I tell you that story is to point out a few things that need to be done to execute a quick, healthy breakfast – which I think my husband does very well.
1: Plan ahead: Think about your breakfast ahead of time. Decide what you will have the weekend before, look up some recipes if you need to, go to the store and buy everything you need to make a good breakfast. Pick something easy that you know you’ll enjoy, and if you want to eat on your way to work, make sure it’s portable. When you plan ahead you reduce the risk of staring at the open fridge or empty pantry with no options in sight. It’s also less likely that you’ll grab something unhealthy out of convenience if you’ve planned your healthy breakfast ahead of time.
2: Prepare ahead: Take the time, when you have it, to prep your breakfast as much as possible. You can make a big batch of your breakfast over the weekend and package it up for yourself so that all you have to do is grab it on your way out the door. It really doesn’t get any easier than that. If eggs are your thing- make some muffin tin frittatas (recipe below). If you're into smoothies- throw all of the ingredients into a bag, put the bags in the freezer, and all that’s left to do in the morning is blend it up. If you like oatmeal, make overnight oats or some seriously delicious peanut butter breakfast cookies (recipe below), so they’re ready to grab as you run out the door.
3: Wake up 5 minutes early (if you even need to): Seriously, just 5 minutes. You can make a piece of toast, scramble some eggs, and mash some avocado on your toast in way less than 5 minutes! But, just in case you burn your toast and need to make another one, give yourself the full 5.
4: Find something you enjoy: Try out a few different recipes or options until you find something you actually enjoy eating in the morning. That will make starting your day with a healthy breakfast that much easier.
Now onto not being hungry in the morning.
You’re probably not hungry because you don’t usually eat breakfast. You can change that. If you get into the habit of starting your day with a healthy breakfast, you’ll find that you are hungry when you get up in the morning. You have to train yourself to be a breakfast person if you are not one currently. Give your metabolism a chance to get revved up in the morning by fueling up with a healthy breakfast. Starting out with a good breakfast sets the tone for your day, starts your day on a healthy track, and helps avoid sugar cravings later in the day.
Not knowing what to make – that’s an easy fix.
When you don’t know what to make, it’s easy to grab something unhealthy like a muffin, bagel, a breakfast bar or some cereal full of sugar. So what should you be looking for in a healthy breakfast? To start your day on a healthy foot, fuel yourself in the best way possible, and avoid creating sugar cravings throughout your day, try to eat a breakfast composed of protein, healthy fat, veggies and/or fruit, and whole grain (if you want it). That sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s an example of something that fits that description: 1 slice of Ezekiel bread with mashed avocado, an over easy egg, and a bowl of berries. Yum. Below, you’ll find a list of recipes that are great for breakfast.
A few things to look out for when choosing your breakfast:
The biggest thing to look out for at breakfast: Added sugars! Sugar is very abundant in pre-made breakfasty things. Cereal can have huge amounts of added sugar, breakfast bars are filled to the brim, pastries and baked goods are big culprits, flavored yogurts are secretly packed, and beverages can be killer when it comes to sugar. Remember, the recommendation is to consume less than 25g of added sugar per day (I encourage people to keep that number as close to 0 as possible), and you can quickly surpass that number with your morning coffee. Look at the labels of breakfast items and coffee beverages before you consume them, and make sure you’re not starting your day with a sugar bomb. You’ll be less likely to crave sugar throughout the day if you avoid it in the morning, and you won’t have those spikes and crashes after eating too much sugar.
Lack of nutrients: start your day with nutrients – you’d find those in the protein, healthy fats, fruits and veggies and whole grains we talked about before. A plain white bagel or bowl of corn flakes offers very little in the way of nutrients, so you’re likely to be hungry pretty soon after. The more nutrients you can pack into your breakfast, the longer it will satisfy you through the morning.
“Healthy” breakfast claims: Many pre-made products make big health claims that they can’t actually live up to. Beware of bars, cereals, pre-made breakfast sandwiches, and fruit flavored items as they tend to entice you with their healthy labels, but can pack a big punch of ingredients like sugar, sodium, and preservatives.
Here are a few recipes for you try - I’ll start with a few easy ones that don’t really need a recipe at all, then check out some great go-to recipes I've found:
2 slices of Ezekiel Bread with peanut butter and a bowl of berries
Plain greek yogurt with berries and nuts
1 slice Ezekiel bread with ¼ mashed avocado and 1 egg (however you like it)
Hope you enjoy your breakfast!