Whether you’re rushing out the door to work or ushering your kids off to school, eating a nourishing breakfast can help jumpstart your metabolism.
“Eating a balanced and nutritious breakfast regularly is key to a healthy diet, and it’ll keep you from bingeing later in the day,” says Jason Lau, MS, RD, CDN. Here’s how to build a nourishing, balanced breakfast for you and your little ones.
What Is a Nourishing, Balanced Breakfast?
It’s a morning meal that balances two to three components: protein, carbohydrates and fruits and/or vegetables. Together, these components will help you feel full and energized until lunch. “I always recommend a 1:1 rule for breakfast,” says Jason. “You should combine a whole grain with a protein, for example, peanut butter with whole wheat toast or Greek yogurt with puffed barley. Whole grains are a great source of fiber, B vitamins and protein. They provide sustainable, slow-burning energy. Bonus points for adding in fruits and vegetables!”
Below are seven examples of simple foods you can easily build into a nourishing breakfast. Make them a part of your morning routine.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein. Both the egg white and egg yolk are rich in nutrients that promote heart health, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, riboflavin and folate. Scramble eggs with dark, leafy greens and add some whole grain toast to round out this breakfast.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts and nut butters are filled with protein, fiber, healthy fats and many valuable vitamins and minerals. Different types of nuts and seeds harbor their own nutrition superpowers. Walnuts are a source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based form of omega-3. Cashews are a good source of zinc and copper while almonds are high in fiber and protein. All are great as oatmeal toppings or blended into smoothies.
Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium, potassium, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12. Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt contains more protein, which makes your morning meal more satiating. Many kinds of Greek yogurt contain probiotics, or live cultures that work to keep your digestive system healthy and balanced. It also packs as much protein as a serving of meat, meaning it will keep you full until lunch. Try adding nuts, seeds and different fresh fruits on top to make this breakfast as balanced as it can be.
Tip: Pre-portion your yogurt and toppings in little mason jars. This makes your breakfast easy to take on-the-go.
Whole-Grain Toast, Bagel or Wrap
A whole-grain bread, bagel or wrap will contain more fiber than its non-whole-grain counterpart. Whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of some chronic diseases and help with weight management. They’re also filled with nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins, iron and other minerals. Enjoy a slice of whole-grain toast or bagel with nut butter and sliced fresh fruit for a healthy, balanced breakfast.
Oats are rich in folate, potassium and fiber. They also contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown to help lower cholesterol when consumed regularly. Jazz up your oatmeal with different kinds of nuts, seeds and fruits to make it even more nutritious.
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and more. They are powerful antioxidants, which protect our body from potentially damaging free radicals. They’re very versatile, great in smoothies, greek yogurt and oatmeal.
Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with vitamins A, C, E, K and folate. They contain an abundance of carotenoids, which are antioxidants that protect cells. They also contain high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Try adding them to egg scrambles, fruit and veggie smoothies and breakfast sandwiches.
3 Time-Saving Tips for a Breezy Breakfast
Wondering how you’re going to squeeze breakfast into a busy morning? These three tips should help.
- Plan ahead. Figure out what you and your family will eat each morning and make sure you have the ingredients on hand before the week begins. If not, it’s time for a weekend grocery shopping trip.
- Batch cook. Make a large batch of steel cut oats for the week on Sunday evenings. Come morning, you’ll only need to reheat one serving and add toppings for a complete breakfast. Sunday can be your designated fun cook day where you whip up large batches of veggie casseroles, whole-grain muffins and granola.
- Organize your fridge. Place your breakfast at eye-level in the fridge for easy access in the morning. Build your breakfast the night before. For example, put all of your smoothie ingredients in a blender and leave it in the fridge. The only remaining steps are blending and pouring.
What are some of your favorite quick, healthy breakfasts? Let us know in the comments.