Breakfast, commonly referred to as the “most important meal of the day,” is vital to providing the body with much of the fuel it needs to get through the day. However, a recent survey by Kellogg’s found that only about 34% of the adult participants ate breakfast every day.
But what are the actual benefits of eating breakfast? In school-aged children, the relationship between breakfast consumption and higher academic performance and school attendance has been well-documented by research. Eating breakfast can also boost short-term memory and concentration. Although a potential cause-and-effect relationship needs further investigation, a number of studies have found that those who eat breakfast were less likely to have high cholesterol or to develop coronary heart disease. Overall, regular breakfast eaters are more likely to meet daily nutrient recommendations than those who skip breakfast.
A few foods that may come to mind when thinking about breakfast are bacon, sugary cereals, waffles, cinnamon rolls, and doughnuts. The saturated fat and added sugar from these foods can increase your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity. If you want a healthy, energy-boosting breakfast, look for some of these nutrients:
Added sugar from pastries and breakfast cereals digest quickly in our stomachs, which can leave us feeling hungrier soon after eating breakfast. On the other hand, fiber, which can be found in whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, and seeds, keep us feeling fuller for a longer period of time. If you love cereal for breakfast, choose a whole-wheat variety with at least 5 grams of fiber and less than 7 grams of sugar per serving. Or, for additional fiber, add some fruit, nuts, or seeds on top.
Protein, a key nutrient in maintaining muscle mass, also plays a role in the feeling of fullness. Depending on the brand and variety, some whole-grain cereals and breads can be great sources of protein. For additional protein, pair toast or cereal with a serving of nut butter and a glass of soy milk. For a more savory option, try pairing tofu or beans with toast.
While saturated fats and trans fats from fatty meats and baked goods can raise cholesterol levels, healthy unsaturated fats promote overall heart health. Fat also plays a role in fullness and helping us absorb certain vitamins. Great sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
Time can definitely be a barrier when it comes to eating breakfast. Here are four basic breakfast recipes that can be easily prepared ahead or within minutes in the morning. Whether you are in the mood for something sweet or savory, or need something that can be eaten on the way out the door, there are plenty of options out there for a healthy breakfast.
While instant oatmeal is a quick and easy breakfast option, the flavors available are full of added sugar. The texture of instant oats may also be unappealing to some. A quick fix for this is to cook oatmeal from scratch, using the overnight oats method.
The concept of overnight oats is fairly simple. Mix oats and liquid of choice. Add in any toppings or flavorings you would like. Stick the whole thing in the fridge before you go to bed, and the oatmeal will be soft enough to eat by the time you wake up in the morning.
- 1/3 cup of rolled or steel cut oats
- 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk (Soy milk is typically higher in protein than coconut or almond milks.)
- Optional flavorings and toppings: bananas, peanut butter, jam, vanilla extract, nuts, berries, dried fruit, coconut, mango, chia seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin puree, applesauce.
Combine all ingredients in a container and put in fridge overnight. Put the oat mixture in a microwave-safe bowl for reheating if you prefer hot oatmeal. If planning to eat on the go, use the popular mason jar option.
Avocado Chickpea Toast
Avocado toast recipes have been popping up everywhere as a savory breakfast option. Whole-wheat toast provides fiber, while the avocado is a healthy source of unsaturated fats. The addition of chickpeas gives the meal a boost of protein and additional fiber.
- One slice of whole-wheat bread, toasted
- 1/4 of an avocado, mashed
- 1/4 of a cup of canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 1 tsp of lime juice
- 1-2 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
- 1-2 tsp of chili powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Spread mashed avocado onto toast. Top with chickpeas and smash gently with the back of a spoon. Alternatively, you can mash the chickpeas and avocado together in a bowl before spreading onto toast. Top with cilantro, lime, chili powder, and salt and pepper.
Microwave Tofu Scramble
If you love scrambled eggs, you’ll love this plant-based version made with tofu. In addition to the protein provided by the tofu, this dish is packed with fiber-rich vegetables. The addition of nutritional yeast, which can be found in the organic or health food sections of the grocery store, contributes a mild cheese-like flavor and a yellow color resembling scrambled eggs. Nutritional yeast is also very high in vitamin B12, a nutrient that is often missing in plant-based diets.
- 1/3rd of a block of firm tofu
- 1 Tbs soy sauce
- 3 Tbs nutritional yeast
- 3/4 cup of chopped vegetables (spinach, red bell peppers, mushrooms, green onions, etc.)
- Optional: 1 Tbs turmeric
- Optional: 1/4 of an avocado, chopped (for garnish)
Chop tofu until is resembles the texture of scrambled eggs. Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl or plate. Mix well and microwave for 90 seconds. Top with avocado and season with additional soy sauce or hot sauce, if desired.
Microwave Breakfast Cookie
This lighter breakfast is perfect for those who do not have big appetites in the morning. After cooling, these cookies also work well as handheld meals that are great for grabbing while headed out the door.
- 1/2 a banana, mashed
- 3 Tbs rolled or steel cut oats
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Optional: 1 Tbs coconut flakes, chocolate or carob chips, cocoa powder, chia seeds, flax seeds, or nuts.
Combine all ingredients in microwave-safe bowl or mug. Use a spoon to shape mixture into a cookie shape. Microwave for 90 seconds. Allow to cool for approximately one minute before eating.