Breakfast may very well be the most important meal of the day and yet Americans are known for making breakfast a carb heavy meal instead of a balanced one. Eating a big plate of carbohydrates in the morning doesn’t do much long term for your energy, blood sugar levels, or mood.
On the other hand, there are also plenty of Americans who don’t have carb heavy breakfasts, but they may be getting in a rut with the same old meal day after day. There is more to breakfast than eggs all the time. I think it is time we switch it up and re-think and re-define breakfast.
First of all, let’s start with the basics of macronutrients. Life and eating are all about balance. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a snack, we should aim to get in a balance of macronutrients each time we eat. That means getting in protein, fats, and carbohydrates at each meal. Carbohydrates are the quick burning fuel that gets us going, like the kindling on the fire, and protein and fat are the slow burning fuel that keeps us going steady, like the logs in a fire. For the best blood sugar regulation, eat all of your macronutrients together to provide the body with what it needs to keep up with the activity levels required for the day.
So, what does this mean for breakfast? It means that breakfast doesn’t have to be muffins, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes or waffles (thought sometimes it can be). Breakfast can even be leftovers from the previous night’s soup or stir fry dinner with all the macronutrients. It also can be something you whip up in about 10 minutes or a pre-portioned meal from your weekend meal planning, if you like to do that.
Without further ado, here is a variety of healthy breakfast ideas to keep you fueled:
All Things Eggs With Veggies
Eggs contain protein and fat and are one of the quickest proteins to cook up. Make sure you don’t skip out on the yolk, as it contains vitamin A, it helps you to utilize the protein content of the whites, and it is a natural source of lecithin (that helps with fat digestion) and contains brain healthy phosphatidylcholine. You can make scrambled eggs, over easy, or hard boiled ahead of time, and combine it with sautéed greens for veggies. The bag of greens from Costco cook up quick and easy and can be cooked in delicious goat milk ghee. You could also cook up swiss chard with some of the stems, and garlic, onions, and red pepper for color.
You can also make omelets or quiches, which can even be done on the weekend and ready to just heat and eat on a work or school day morning. If you happen to have ham for dinner, use the leftover ham in omelets with peppers, onions, and greens for a tasty meal the next morning. Quiches are good with cheeses, broccoli, sausages, and peppers.
You can make your own breakfast bowls with leftover brown rice, maybe some breakfast sausage, freshly sautéed red peppers and greens, over easy eggs, some teriyaki sauce with clean ingredients, and some avocado for healthy fat. This is a hearty well balanced meal.
Really what list of breakfast foods is complete without a smoothie on it? For those busy mornings where you just don’t have time, smoothies can fill the void in the stomach in a pinch. With some protein powder, coconut oil or Goat Milk Cream flakes for healthy fats, chia seeds, possibly a greens powder, milk and some fresh or frozen fruit like berries or banana, you can throw together a meal.
The key with smoothies is to blend the protein just briefly at the end to limit expansion which can cause bloat, try not to use a lot of ice, and make sure to “chew” your smoothie. Drinking cold drinks shunts the blood away from the stomach, which is not what you want to do, so more of a room temperature or just slightly cold smoothie is better than a liquid popsicle. The first step of digestion starts in the mouth with the saliva, so if you are just chugging a smoothie, the enzymes in your saliva don’t have enough contact time with your food. That is why throwing a little texture in your smoothie to crunch or swishing around the smoothie in your mouth before swallowing can enhance digestion. And don’t eat in a rush!
Dinner leftovers can be a great breakfast. Just heat a leftover stir fry in a skillet quick to warm it up or turn the oven on to 350 and put your food in an oven safe pan for about 8-10 minutes. (I don’t recommend the microwave) Soups, stir fries, pot roast with veggies, shepherd’s pie, and meatloaf with leftover veggies can all be eaten for breakfast.
Pancakes, Waffles, Muffins, and Oatmeal
Okay, so I know I talked about trying not to do a carb heavy breakfast, but you have to live a little and enjoy life, right?
I have had my fair share of all of these. The key is to make them with the best quality ingredients, cut down on the sugar (or maple syrup) and keep it minimal, and add in healthy fats and protein. Protein powders are a great way to do that. As much as I love pancakes, most of the time they don’t love me and wreck my blood sugar. However, I have found that if I mix Caprotein in with my pancakes, I feel better and my blood sugar stays more even keel. You could use any protein powder though. Adding on lots of butter and using very little maple syrup helps, as well as including some sausage or bacon on the side.
You also want to make sure you use better ingredients. You can find pancake recipes that use plantains or sweet potato as the base without having to use lots of flour. You can also do sprouted spelt or einkorn, which are more ancient wheat varieties that haven’t been hybridized like modern wheat and are better for you and less reactive. For a gluten free version, there are lots of recipes with cassava flour or coconut flour as the base, usually with tapioca starch to make it lighter and more like a traditional pancake or waffle. Some recipes use almond flour, but generally I recommend staying away from recipes that use this as their main base or use a lot of it, as nuts aren’t meant to be eaten in such large amounts and are harder to digest.
I want to make a special note on oatmeal here. Unfortunately it is no longer common knowledge in our modern day that grains, nuts, and seeds are really meant to be soaked or sprouted before eating in order to really get the full nutritional profile out of them and be able to better digest them. Oatmeal (and other grains) should really be soaked for about 8 hours or so in warm water with 1 tablespoon of an acidic liquid like raw apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or yogurt. This is because grains have phytic acid in the bran that blocks mineral absorption, but when you soak them like this, the phytic acid starts to break down and allows more minerals to actually be absorbed in the body. This also makes them easier to digest and can sometimes help people feel fuller from eating them. I usually buy steel cut oats already sprouted so I can skip this step.
When it comes to oatmeal, top with nuts, fruits, ghee and you can use a natural sweetener like maple syrup or honey. You can even mix in a protein powder for a protein boost. Eating some breakfast sausage on the side and some avocado can also help balance the meal.
I hope this gives you some new ideas on what you can do for breakfast! Eating well is so important to feeling well.