For many people, mornings are often rushed, leaving little time to prepare and eat a balanced breakfast that will keep you feeling full and energized for the rest of the morning.
Why eat breakfast? Not eating breakfast may lead to increased cravings for sweets later in the day, low energy and undesired weight gain.
You don’t have to sit down to a full breakfast every morning if time or lack of appetite is an issue first thing in the morning. if you do want to wait until you get to work to eat, and find yourself tempted by the vending machine or coffee shops, keep your desk drawer or locker at work stocked with some of these nonperishable foods from the examples below, like oatmeal, raw, unsalted nuts, chia or hemp seeds, cereal and nut butters.
For a balanced breakfast, include at least 3-4 of the 4 food groups. Aim to have foods with protein and fibre, as these will help keep you feeling fuller longer.
5 Easy Breakfast Ideas
- Wrap it up
Take a 100% whole wheat wrap, spread 2 tbsp of natural peanut butter or almond butter, add a whole banana, wrap it up and your done! Simple and portable. If you don’t enjoy sweet foods in the morning, you could spread some light Babybel cheese spread with low fat turkey and some veggies.
2. Oatmeal – with a twist
Oatmeal is an excellent breakfast food. It’s whole grain, high in fibre and has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t have a large impact on raising your blood sugars. There are many types of oats, from steel cut, rolled and instant. The differences have to do with the amount of processing the oat groat (the whole, unbroken grain of oat) goes through. Steel cut oats have the least amount of processing and have the lowest glycemic index. But, for time pressed individuals, they can take up to 20-30 minutes to cook on the stove top.
You can find individual packages of plain, steel cut oats and keep these at work or microwave at home within minutes.
Oatmeal alone lacks protein and may seem a bit plain so there’s many ways to boost the nutrition and flavour in a bowl of oatmeal.
- Add 1/2-1 cup of fruit (such as berries, chopped banana), 1-2tbsp of chia seeds (great source of fibre and omega 3 fatty acids).
- For protein, a scoop or protein powder, 1/2 cup plain yogurt or a hardboiled egg on the side.
- Cinnamon, cocoa powder or vanilla extract or other ways to add flavour without the sugar
3. Yogurt Parfait
Take a low fat, plain Greek yogurt (Greek yogurt has 3x the amount of protein), add some berries or chopped fruit and mix in a serving of whole grain, high fibre cereal. As a guideline, when choosing cereal, look for ones that have at least 4g of fibre and less than 10g sugar per serving. Other good mix-ins besides cereal? Raw nuts and hemp/chia/flax seeds.
4. Super Smoothies
Make a big batch of smoothie and store in tightly sealed mason jars for up to 2-3 days. Or, throw together the morning of in just a few minutes. To cut down on the sugar, skip juice as the liquid and go for milk (cow’s/almond/soy) while getting calcium, Vitamin D and a number of other nutrients, and keep fruit portioned to 1/2-1cup. Make sure to include some protein, such as plain greek yogurt, protein powder or hemp seeds. Throw in some greens, like spinach and kale, for some iron, calcium and fibre. You won’t even be able to taste it!
5. Trail Mix
Skip the prepackaged trail mixes which often have extra salt, sugar or oils, and make your own! It can save you money and will be better for you. Make a big batch and portion into small containers or ziplock bags that are easy to grab on your way out the door, or keep in your desk drawer at work.
Mix & Match Trail Mix Recipe:
3 cups raw nuts or seeds (choose several types from examples like almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
2 cups dried fruit (choose several types from examples like raisins, currants, chopped apricots, apple rings)
5 cups cereal (choose 1 or from several examples like Chex, Shreddies, Fibre 1, Kashi Go Lean – again, use the rule of thumb of at least 4g fibre and less than 10g sugar per serving).
Makes about 12 servings.
You could also use this as a topping for plain yogurt.
Adding high fibre cereal can add more volume to the trail mix, as the portion size of nuts is small (1/4 cup) due to the high fat content (though raw nuts are a source of healthy fats). If you want, you could skip the dried fruit and eat a whole piece of fruit, like a pear or apple, with the trail mix.
Bottom line: Breakfast is an opportunity to meet some of your nutrient requirements for the day. Foods that are high in protein and fibre, and lower in sugar, will help keep you feel satisfied. Don’t think of skipping breakfast as a way to skip calories if weight loss if your goal, as it may lead to overeating later in the day.
What are some of your favourite, quick breakfast ideas?
Written by: Andrea Docherty, RD
Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist