Breakfast is arguably THE most important meal of the day. After a restful and restorative nights’ sleep, your blood sugar levels are low and your body needs refueling. Breakfast, literally “breaking the fast”, will help set you up for the day, restore your energy levels and prevent that all-too-common mid-morning energy slump that leaves many people reaching for coffee and donuts at around 10am.
Breakfast cereal – junk food in disguise
As important as breakfast is, it’s all too easy to end up eating something that is far from healthy in the guise of breakfast cereal. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like breakfast cereal but, inevitably, it’s highly refined and packed with sugar and most breakfast bars and toaster pastries are no different. Breakfast cereals are not the healthy start to the day that many of us believe. Did you know, for example, that Kellogg’s famous Corn Flakes were actually invented to lower libido in male asylum patients!
So while breakfast IS an essential meal, what you actually consume first thing in the morning is of equal importance so let’s take a look at some better breakfast choices…
Eggs – breakfast of champions
Eggs sometimes get a bad rap because they contain both saturated fat and cholesterol. However, saturated fat (and they don’t actually contain that much) is important for energy, making you feel full up and heart and brain health while cholesterol is so important that your body makes it in your liver. In fact, if you eat too little cholesterol, your body simply makes more.
Eggs are nutritional powerhouses and are high in protein, vitamins A, D E and K, several B vitamins, zinc, iron, and copper. Sugar and carb-free, eggs will keep you feeling fuller for longer and also boost your metabolism for faster fat loss.
As to how to prepare your eggs – that’s the dealer’s choice! Poached, scrambled, lightly fried, soft or hard boiled – all are good options. Organic, free-range eggs are arguably the best but any egg is going to be better than some sugar-laden processed breakfast cereal.
Oatmeal – the best breakfast cereal
Creamy, satisfying and comforting, oatmeal is a great start to the day. Packed with slow-releasing carbs and fiber, oatmeal is probably the best grain-based breakfast you can eat.
Some people think that they don’t have time to make oatmeal in the mornings – especially as steel-cut jumbo oats (in my opinion the best) can take 15-minutes to cook. However, if you soak your oats overnight in milk or in water, they will soften and only need to be gently warmed so they’ll be ready in just a couple of minutes.
One of my favorite ways to eat oats is with eggs – my eggy oat scramble. Simply break and whisk two or three eggs in a bowel and then add a third to a half a cup of oats. Leave to soak for five minutes and then scramble lightly in a skillet with some coconut oil or butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with maple syrup for a delicious and filling breakfast that is ready in minutes!
Yogurt – a creamy start to the day
Yogurt is high in protein, low in sugar, contains plenty of essential calcium and is a great source of probiotics, probiotics being good bacteria that boost digestive and immune system health.
There are lots of different types of yogurt to choose from but natural Greek yogurt, either full-fat or reduced fat as preferred, is arguably the best.
There are lots of ways to eat yogurt; add some soft fruit and chopped nuts, drizzle with a little honey, stir in some protein powder or just eat it au natural. For a breakfast on the go, yogurt is hard to beat.
Smoothies – drink your breakfast
Some people, and I’m one of them, prefer to drink their breakfast – especially before exercise. Smoothies are quick to prepare, portable, refreshing and nutritious. There are lots of smoothie recipes you can try but this is my favorite…
1 tablespoon organic peanut butter
1 small banana
1 cup low fat Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 ice cubes
½ cup water
1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder (optional)
Toss all the ingredients in a blender and blend on slow for 30-seocnds and then fast for 30-seconds.
You can also make vegetable smoothies, dairy-free smoothies (use soya milk instead of yogurt), and fruit-only smoothies…experiment and create your own great recipes.
Meat, berries and nuts – the hunter-gatherer breakfast
There are certain foods that are commonly considered to be breakfast foods and then there are some that aren’t. For a while, I ate curry for breakfast which took some getting used to but was actually a great start to the day and a habit I picked up in Goa.
My point is, non-traditional breakfast foods can be every bit as good a way to start your day as traditional breakfast foods.
One of the best non-traditional ways to start your day is a hunter-gather breakfast of meat, nuts and berries. These three foods provide everything you need to a healthy breakfast – protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals, a modicum of carbohydrate and plenty of fiber.
The hunter-gather breakfast can easily be prepared in advance so you can eat it on the go if your mornings are rushed. Try to rotate different meats, a broad selection of berries and a few different types of nuts to create an almost infinite variety of breakfasts.
Many regular breakfast cereals are, despite what the advertising says, little more than junk food. Any of the options listed above is better than candy-coated, sugar-laden, super-processed reconstituted wheat and/or rice. And what the heck is chocolate doing in breakfast cereals? How does THAT teach kids about good nutrition? Eat a smarter breakfast to make sure you start each and every day as healthily as possible.