It’s true - a healthy breakfast tends to set the tone for the whole day. Starting off on the right foot makes it much easier to stick to healthy food choices whatever temptations you encounter later.
As a licensed nutritionist, my job is to help busy people find super, simple and smart ways to integrate healthy eating into their daily lives. Food should be a source of energy and guilt-free enjoyment, not result in sugar crashes that leave you drained, irritable and prone to cravings.
Keep the balance
Ideally, a well-balanced breakfast provides protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. This helps ensure that your body breaks down your morning meal gradually, to keep you going strong until lunch. Incorporating nutrient-dense foods provides the vitamins and minerals you need, plus powerful phytochemicals, antioxidants, and other important protective nutrients.
When your blood sugar levels are stable you feel focused and full of energy, as glucose (or blood sugar) is released into your system slowly and steadily, not all at once. Foods that help balance your blood sugar include whole grains, yogurt, nuts and smoothies. Foods that play havoc with your blood sugar levels include most breakfast cereals, white bread, doughnuts and fruit juice.
You’re never too busy to have a good breakfast. Whether you’re a stay at home mom juggling your needs with those of the family or bracing for an intense day at the office, your body needs and deserves nourishment. It improves performance, endurance and makes you much better at managing the inevitable stress of modern life.
So how to make a better breakfast? Simply build on the good habits you already have in place and integrate superfoods into your daily routine.
Simply put, superfoods are foods that are particularly dense in nutrients. Rich in a powerful kind of fiber known as beta glucans, along with energy-producing B vitamins and magnesium, oats certainly fit the definition. Already higher in protein and heart-healthy fats than most grains, you can add extra by topping your oatmeal with a tablespoon of chia seeds, ground flax seeds or adding a swirl of almond butter. Oats are versatile and work well with both sweet and savory recipes. To boost taste and nourishment, experiment with your favorite spices. For sweet, try cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. For savory, turmeric, black pepper and paprika.
Here’s one of my favorite recipes. It takes five minutes of prep in the evening and the next morning you have a delicious, perfectly balanced, ready-made breakfast.
- 1-cup uncooked rolled oats
- 1-cup nut milk (coconut, soy or almond)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or almonds
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1-cup fresh berries (blueberries work well)
- 1 apple peeled or grated or finely chopped
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nut milk, shredded coconut, nuts, and seeds (except chia seeds). Cover and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add the berries, grated apple and chia seeds. Flavor it with a dash of cinnamon, if you like. Great with plain yogurt too.
This actually makes about 2 portions but keeps well for a snack or breakfast the next day.
Start by swapping white bread for sprouted-grain or whole-grain bread. Not only does it help keep your blood sugar balanced, it’s an easy way to pack more nutrients into each slice.
Avocado is a great everyday superfood. Its smooth, creamy texture and mild flavor is ideal on toast and makes a healthier alternative to butter. Avocados also:
- Help control your appetite – they’re loaded with soluble fiber, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates and helps you feel fuller longer. They also contain oleic acid, which signals your brain you’re full and helps prevent food cravings.
- Have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits – excessive inflammation and oxidative stress are a root cause of cancer. Avocado’s unique mix of anti-inflammatory nutrients and antioxidants helps destroy abnormal cells and protect healthy ones.
- Contain potent immune-boosting antioxidants – Avocados are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps quench inflammation and protect your cells against premature aging.
A dash of Himalayan sea salt exults the taste of avocado toast. This pink salt has been touted for its high mineral content. It has 84 trace minerals in total, such as iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and chloride. While a lot of the claims related to its health benefits have yet to be scientifically proven, it’s a less processed, purer alternative to iodized table salt.
If you’re not into avocado toast, try topping your whole grain slice with tahini, almond butter and or goat’s cheese with a drizzle of local honey. And don’t underestimate the power of a poached egg-on-toast breakfast either! It’s the perfect mix of protein, carbs, and fats.
Super simple smart smoothie
For healthy breakfast in liquid form, nothing quite beats a smoothie. They’re a great way to pack a lot of nutrients in. Don’t feel like going through the ‘hassle’ of preparing all the ingredients first thing every morning? You can streamline the process by stocking your freezer with pre-made smoothie packs.
No stress smoothie hack
Combine ½ cup frozen berries, ½ a frozen banana, and 1 cube frozen spinach and place in small Ziploc bags. Feel free to add avocado, fennel and additional fruit like kiwis. Just don’t exaggerate on quantities! Place in freezer.
When you’re ready to make your morning smoothie, simply open your smoothie pack and pour the bag’s contents over a liquid base such as water, coconut water or almond milk. I often recommend adding superfood powders such as maca, hemp protein and spirulina for their functional effects and smoothies are the perfect way to consume them.
Blend all ingredients, pour into a portable cup and sip it on the go!