Post written by Leo Babauta.
You get up in the morning, you rush to get ready for work, you rush out the door without a breakfast. Perhaps you grab a bagel and cream cheese, perhaps a muffin, perhaps an Egg McMuffin. If you’re lucky, you get a pastry, a hearty breakfast of pancakes and sausage and eggs, or an English fry-up.
Unfortunately, when it comes to being healthy, none of these options is a great way to start your day.
Several readers asked about healthy breakfast ideas, and in truth, it’s a dilemma that many of us face each day. Either we don’t have time for breakfast, or we don’t have many healthy options.
The first problem is a problem, because it means that you start the day with an empty stomach. That means that by the time you are getting into the swing of work, your blood-sugar levels are dangerously low. The result: you need an instant sugar fix, which usually means a donut or pastry or some other unhealthy choice.
The second problem is also a real problem, because traditional breakfasts don’t usually come in healthy flavors. Here are the options that most people think of as breakfast:
- Too sugary or carb-filled. Pancakes, waffles, toast, donuts, pastries, scones, bagels, pies, sugar cereals, breakfast bars, muffins (which, let’s face it, are usually just cake). I’m not anti-carb, but the problem with many breakfasts is that they are low in fat and protein, and nothing but empty carb calories. This starts your day with a high blood-sugar level, which your body will quickly adjust for and drop, and you’ll be on a roller-coaster blood-sugar ride all day.
- Too fatty. Fried eggs, sausages, bacon, cream cheese on your bagels, cheesy omelets, Egg McMuffins, Sausage McMuffins, hash browns, anything English or Scottish.
What does that leave us with? Actually, there are a lot of options. The 10 below are just a few ideas, but I’m sure you can think of many more. Look for protein without too much saturated fat. Look for whole-grain carbs. Look for low-fat dairy or soy options. Look for fiber and nutrients.
But how do you find the time? You make the time. Get up 15 minutes earlier. Pack something to eat on the road or when you first get to work. Prepare it the night before if necessary. I recommend the first option — waking a little earlier — as it’s nice to be able to have a nice cup of tea or coffee with your breakfast, relaxing before the rush of the day starts.
Oatmeal, flaxseed, blueberries & almonds. To me, this is the perfect breakfast. Steel-cut oatmeal is probably the healthier choice, but if you are in a hurry, the instant kind will do fine (it doesn’t have as much fiber, but the other ingredients make up for that). After microwaving the oatmeal, add ground flaxseed, frozen blueberries, sliced almonds. You can add a little cinnamon and honey (not a lot) if you’re using the non-instant oatmeal. That’s four power foods, full of fiber and nutrients and protein and good fats, with only a couple of minutes of prep time. And very tasty!
Kashi Golean Crunch. Actually, any whole-grain, high-fiber cereal is a good choice, but I mention this particular one because it’s a favorite of mine. It has a high amount of protein and fiber, low sugar. Add low-fat milk or soy milk (which has 1/3 the saturated fat of 1% milk), perhaps some berries if you like.
Scrambled tofu. Healthier than scrambled eggs. Add some onions, green peppers or other veggies, some light soy sauce or tamari, maybe some garlic powder, and black pepper, stir-fry with a little olive oil. Eat with whole-grain toast. Fast and delicious.
Fresh berries, yogurt, granola. Get low-fat yogurt (not non-fat, as it often has too much sugar) or soy yogurt, cut up some berries or other fruits, add some healthy cereal. I actually use the Kashi Golean Crunch instead of granola, as many brands of granola have way too much fat and/or sugar.
Grapefruit with whole-wheat toast & almond butter. Add a little sugar on top of the grapefruit, and it’s actually pretty good. The almond butter is healthier than peanut-butter, with lots of good protein to fill you up.
Fresh fruit salad. Cut up some apples, melons, berries, oranges, pears, bananas, grapes … any or all or whatever your favorite fruits are. Add a little bit of lime or lemon juice. Perfect.
Protein shake with extras. I use soy protein powder, but whey works well too. Blend up with low-fat milk or soy milk, some frozen blueberries, and perhaps some almond butter or oatmeal. That may sound weird, but it’s actually pretty good, and pretty filling. A little ground flax seed works well too.
Eggs with peppers. I’m not a fan of eggs, but many people love them. Egg whites are healthier than whole eggs. Scramble with a little olive oil, red and green bell peppers, maybe broccoli, onions, black pepper. Goes well with whole-wheat toast.
Cottage cheese and fruit. Get low-fat cottage cheese. Add any kind of fruit. Apples, citrus, berries.
Gibb’s muffins & jam. While most muffins you buy at a coffee shop or grocery store are just empty carbs with lots of fat (basically, cake), this is a delicious recipe with lots of fiber and nutrition. (Note: the recipe in the link doesn’t mention it, but it’s actually a recipe from Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James — it’s her husband Gibbs’ recipe). Bake them the night before, and they’re perfect in the morning (and for days to come). A little honey or jam makes them perfect.