What are you having for breakfast? Do you skip breakfast in an attempt to lose weight or do you eat a bowl of cereal thinking this is a better option than a bacon sandwich? Although I do not believe that everybody needs to eat breakfast, it is not a good idea to skip it and end up bingeing on sugar loaded foods later on in the day. So, if you are going to have breakfast, make it a nutritious one. Here you are 5 quick options which will help you rethink your morning meal altogether.
Eggs: the protein start.
Starting the day with a healthy portion of protein is a great way to maintain balanced blood sugar levels and avoid the mid-morning munchies. Studies have shown that a high protein breakfast helps to reduce the levels of ghrelin which is a ‘hunger hormone’ that increases appetite. So a protein-packed breakfast is ideal if you are trying to lose weight as it can satisfy your appetite, keep you full for longer so you end up eating less during the rest of the day.
Eggs have had a bit of a bad press in the past but they’re full of nutrients and, in my opinion, a real super-food, so unless you are allergic to them, add them to your meals and enjoy them! A couple of scrambled or poached eggs make a great breakfast choice. An even quicker option is to hard boil the eggs the night before, store them in the fridge so they are ready for you in the morning. Alternatively if you have a little more time, you can whip up an omelette and stuff it with your favourite vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, peepers or courgettes.
Pancakes: a healthy version of a children’s favourite.
This is a very quick and easy no-flour pancake option which is also gluten and dairy free. For one generous sized pancake all you need is half a small banana (mashed), one egg and one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds. Mix everything in a bowl and then pour it on a warm pancake pan. I usually melt one teaspoon of coconut oil in the pan before adding the mixture so it doesn’t stick to it. Cook the pancake one minute on each side and you are done. You can serve it with a few blueberries, and /or a tablespoon of Greek yogurt on top. This is a great hit with the kids and adults alike and provides a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats.
Smoothies: liquid goodness.
Having a smoothie for breakfast is a great ways to pack as many nutrients as possible in one go. Fibre intake is also maximised with smoothies as the whole fruit and vegetable is blended. This is important as fibre keeps our bowl movements regular and it helps in keeping us full for longer. Start with one piece of fruit (berries always work well), then add a couple of green vegetables (spinach, or kale for example) and then some milk (coconut or almond are good choices) to make it creamy. If you prefer, you can add just water and some ice. Other great additions include ‘super foods’ like spirulina, maca , baobab powder, raw cacao, protein powder, lucuma and coconut oil. The choices are endless; it all depends on your taste as well as your nutritional needs. Experiment to find what flavours work best for you and you will not be disappointed. The rewards include lots of energy and glowing skin, so go on give smoothies a go!
Leftovers from last night dinner: why not?
Who said that breakfast has to be prepared from scratch? And what if you are in a rush? Well, if your leftovers are a good balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates and good fats than go ahead. Tuck in into the turkey breast with sautés vegetables or the salmon fillet with spinach from last night’s dinner. These options obviously work well if you prefer something savoury in the morning. So remember next time you are cooking your dinner to be generous with the ingredients because it could work as a breakfast too!
Cereals: why ‘make your own’ is your best option.
I added cereals because I get asked this question often: are cereals a good option for breakfast? Well, let me ask you: do you know how much sugar is in your favourite cereal? If you read the ingredient list on the label you will find one or more of the following: sugar, fructose, glucose, barley malt, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, raw cane sugar, honey, molasses, dextrose and so on. Loading up on sugar first thing in the morning, or at any other time of the day, is not a good idea! Also, if you have children I beg you not to buy the cereals aimed specifically at kids because most of them can have as much as 3 or 4 teaspoons of sugar per 30g serving. However, if you like to start your day with a bowl of cereals because it is easy and convenient, your best bet is to buy the main ingredients separately and combine them together to make your own mix. It is really easier and cheaper than you think. You will need to buy some grains: good choices are gluten free oats, quinoa, buckwheat and millet flakes. Then some nuts like chopped hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, flaked almonds, and some seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, chia, and linseeds. Coconut flakes give a nice taste too. To add sweetness you might like some dried fruit like raisins, chopped dates, cranberries, apricots, and pineapple. Choose whatever you like the most! You can pick just one or two options from each food group depending on your taste, but go easy on the dried fruit as it is a very concentrate source of fructose which is still a sugar! Mix all your preferred ingredients in a jar and store it in the fridge. Voila’, you have homemade delicious muesli. In the evenings, you can put a serving in a bowl with some coconut or almond milk and let it soak overnight so it is nice and soft in the morning. Before serving you can add some ground flaxseeds which provide extra protein, fibre and omega 3s and you are ready to face the day!
If you run out of your own special muesli and you are stuck with having to buy a supermarket version, the only fairly decent option I came across is ‘Lizi’s Low Sugar Granola’ which is also made from oats, nuts and seeds. A serving of 50g (the usual 30g recommended on most boxes is not very generous at all!) will give you 22.6 g of carbohydrates and 1.9g of sugar. This is much better than all the Special K, Weetabix, Fruit and Fibre, Coco pops, Crunchy nuts, Frosties and Dorset cereals brigade.
Whatever you choose as your first meal of the day, please remember to always have some protein and to stay away from refined carbohydrates (muffins, white toast, croissants, and sugar filled cereals). This will help to reduce mid-morning energy dips and sugar cravings.