Breakfast of Champions
Doctors will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but this doesn’t mean that just any breakfast will get you a doctor’s approval. Breakfast is important because it will jumpstart the metabolism, keep blood sugar levels balanced, and has been proven to increase feelings of satiety all day. Not to mention that breakfast gives you the natural energy boost you need to accomplish any day’s work.
So does this mean that grabbing anything just for the sake of eating a breakfast, such as a sugar-enriched cereal or highly processed granola bar, will help your body serve your needs? Absolutely not. When doctors speak about breakfast being the most important meal of the day, they are speaking about breakfasts that are real, wholesome, and healthy. Doctors are not recommending the sugar-loaded, highly processed foods Americans are used to considering “breakfast foods”.
It may seem obvious what is considered healthy to eat for breakfast by now, but it is easy to fall into the pattern of easy living. Making a healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. You can make a healthy breakfast that is just as delicious, quick and affordable as the processed foods we see in the freezer and packaged food aisles in grocery stores.
Another issue with breakfast foods is the breaking the idea that certain processed foods are healthy, just because they are labeled that way. For example, granola cereal and granola bars. Although this food is often listed as a healthy breakfast food, the truth lies in the nutrition label. Most granola bars are high on processed carbohydrates that will raise your blood sugar levels only to drop them quickly, leaving you feeling foggy-brained, sluggish, and craving more sugar. Not to mention granola bars usually don’t have much fiber.
As far as granola cereals, the caloric content is pretty extreme. Most granola cereals contain over 200 calories for a half cup serving. In case you are wondering, almost no one eats a half cup of cereal for breakfast unless they are a small child. I won’t even elaborate on the atrocity of eating donuts, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and other highly processed bread products for the main portion of your breakfast. Their devastating effects on the body seem obvious: high sugar, low nutrients, high calories, low fiber. This is the worst combination of ingredients you could possibly introduce to your body first thing in the morning when you need energy.
When we examine other, heartier breakfast foods common in our culture, like eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, etc., we need to remember cholesterol. Just one egg contains about 70% of your daily value of cholesterol, and although eating about 4 egg yolks a week hasn’t been found to increase risk of heart disease according to mayoclinic.org, eating a diet rich in cholesterol will increase your blood cholesterol levels, at least temporarily, and this puts a strain on your heart. Breakfast isn’t the meal you want to load up on cholesterol with, because you never know if your lunch or dinner will also include high cholesterol levels, unless you plan out your meals – in which case, more power to you!
So, to avoid the risk of filling up on processed, low nutrient, high cholesterol breakfast foods out of habit and ease, here are some healthy breakfast recipes to consider. They are nutrient dense, not too complicated to make, affordable, and definitely have doctor’s approval.
1. Cottage Cheese and Fruit
A half cup serving of cottage cheese is around 90 calories, and has 12 grams of protein. The cottage cheese is also rich in calcium, low in fat and low in cholesterol. Pair 3/4 cup of cottage cheese with a serving of fruit for a meal that is low calorie, high in fiber and protein, and low on processed carbohydrates. Good fruits to pair with cottage cheese: Bananas, apples, pineapple, peaches, and strawberries.
Low or nonfat cottage cheese
1 serving of fruit
Place cottage cheese in a bowl and top with sliced fruit of your choice!
2. Breakfast Smoothies
Smoothies are something to be cautious of, usually they are very high calorie and high sugar. But when you make your own at home, you can control which ingredients go into it. Try this recipe for a healthy green smoothie your body will reward you for.
1 cup whole strawberries
2 cups of fresh baby spinach
1 small vine tomato
½ cup water
Add the greens first, then the fruit. Blend to taste. If you want a sweeter taste, add some stevia or Splenda for a low-calorie but very sweet taste addition.
3. Protein Packed Scrambled Eggs
If you love to eat eggs in the morning, this recipe is just for you. The combination of ingredients will give you a vitamin rich, high protein breakfast that will help keep your blood sugar levels stable until lunch!
4 egg whites
1 link turkey sausage
1 small diced yellow onion
¼ cup diced yellow bell pepper
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
1 handful of chopped spinach
1 small diced tomato
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan, drizzle onions, peppers and sauté with olive oil. When the onions are clear and the peppers are tender, season with salt and pepper. Add chopped turkey sausage and sauté until it is golden brown. Lower the heat, add the egg whites, and scramble. When the eggs are almost done, add in the tomato and spinach. Add one piece of whole grain toast to complete the meal, if you like.
4. High Protein Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a very filling breakfast food. Even the pre-packed oatmeal packets are lower in calories and sugar than most cereals. It is high in nutrients and fiber, but adding ingredients to it can add flavor and protein. Here is a recipe to try:
1 packet of instant oatmeal
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp. almond butter
¼ cup ground almonds
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Pour instant oatmeal in a bowl, and add the protein powder and cinnamon. Add in bowling hot water and let the oatmeal sit until it expands and cools, probably five minutes. Stir in the almond butter and top with crushed almonds.
5. Yogurt Parfait
Yogurt and fruits are extremely healthy in the morning. The light taste of yogurt with raspberries is refreshing and extremely rich in vitamins and nutrients. Mix together some other ingredients and you can create a very healthy parfait fit for breakfast!
1 6 oz. serving of vanilla Greek yogurt
½ oz. sliced almonds
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ diced banana
½ cup raspberries
Pour half of the yogurt in a bowl, and then cover with a layer of sliced bananas and dried cranberries. Cover the layer with the rest of the yogurt and top with almonds and raspberries. Voila!
These breakfast recipes can serve as a guide to what is healthy on a breakfast plate. Try to avoid the high cholesterol, high processed breakfast foods you are used to categorizing as acceptable breakfast meals. Your body will serve you better when you give it the fuel it needs and craves, and your taste buds will thank you for the rich, natural flavors found in whole, fresh and real foods.