I love to eat. Put a plate of food in front of me and watch me go. But for some reason, the whole idea of breakfast took years to sink in. In my mid twenties, I'm finally in a habit of making a meal that precedes lunch and now understand what all the fuss has been about.
If you think mornings are too hectic or you're out of ideas, this post will hopefully make you a fan of breakfast again and all the delicious ways you can kick off your day.
The research is there in support of breakfast. People who eat breakfast tend to weigh less and are more productive because they've gotten a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals early in the day, along with vital nutrients that get their metabolism going. Additional benefits include more stable blood sugar, lower cholesterol and improved memory.
Rules for a Great Breakfast
You can chew it or drink it as long as it covers all the bases. Whether you put in on a plate or in a glass doesn't matter, as long as you have the right balance of nutrients. Make a smoothie or make a sandwich, whatever you want. Here's another important thing to keep in mind about breakfast -- it doesn't have to be sweet. Cultures around the world start their day with everything from fish to curried lentils. Whoever created the label "breakfast food" is to blame for the notion that breakfast can't be as exciting as lunch or dinner.
Here are the main components of a healthy breakfast:
Good Fats -- Eating healthy fats can actually help you lose weight and supports your heart, brain and joints as well as your skin and hair. Avocados, smoked salmon and seeds are a great way to add healthy fats. Cooking that egg in olive oil instead of butter is a good swap, too.
Protein -- When eaten in the morning, particularly within one hour of waking, protein can help get the metabolism going to help you burn more calories throughout the day. Whether it's from an animal or not doesn't matter, just make sure you have the protein you need to feel energized and build lean muscle.
Some Carbs -- Having carbohydrates for breakfast can be tricky. Let's clear up one thing first: you need them. Cutting all carbs out of your breakfast is a bad idea, since they provide energy. But grabbing a jumbo bowl of sugary cereal will only make you crash later, drained of energy. Pairing carbohydrates with protein can help you get the most out of them.
Paying attention to the proportions of these components and making sure you include all of them will provide you with a breakfast that keeps you full and energized until lunchtime and keeps the metabolism on track.
What to Shop For
Now that you know what the essential components of a balanced breakfast are, it's time to talk ingredients. These breakfast superstars should have a home in your kitchen:
1. Steel Cut Oats -- These oats are a great source of protein, fiber and whole grains that will keep you feeling satisfied long after breakfast. Make them into a hot bowl of oatmeal, add them to muffins or sprinkle on pancakes before flipping.
2. Greek Yogurt -- Packed with protein and lower in fat than other varieties (not to mention less processed), Greek yogurt can be topped with fruit, honey and granola or added to a smoothie to provide nutrition as well as a creamy texture that seems more decadent than it really is.
3. Nut Butters -- Be more selective when shopping for nut butters. Look for organic varieties that contain only the nut with no added sugar, preservatives, etc. Peanuts and almonds provide healthy fats as well as vitamins and makes a great protein source. Spread it on toast or add it to a smoothie or shake.
4. Eggs -- A breakfast favorite for many people, eggs are a great way to get some protein in the morning. They also provide B vitamins. Try poaching instead of frying to cut back on calories, or switch to a healthier fat for cooking, like olive oil or coconut oil. Try using herbs to create new and exciting flavor combinations even if you eat the same style eggs everyday.
5. Seeds -- Two amazing seeds to add to breakfast meals are chia seeds and flax seeds. They both contain omega-3 essential fatty acids and chia seeds are a great source of fiber to fill you up and keep your digestive system moving. Use them as a topping for whatever you're making or add them to baked goods. You can also grind them and add them to drinks.
6. Tofu or Tempeh -- If you're avoiding animal products or just want a new way to get your protein, these are two super options. Both tofu and tempeh can be seasoned and baked, then added to breakfast sandwiches or served alongside fruit. If you're new to tofu, start with extra firm -- it's closest to meat in texture and consistency.
7. Protein Powder -- While this one may also be familiar to you, there is more you can do with it than what is listed on the package. Blend protein powder into batter for a batch of energizing muffins or blend some coffee, ice and almond milk for a healthier coffee treat.
8. Avocados -- Whether you mash them and use them in place of mayonnaise or top your eggs with them, avocados can make any breakfast ten times better. Avocados provide healthy fats and they're also a good source of fiber.
9. Hot Sauce -- Don't be afraid to add some heat to your breakfast. The capsaicin within peppers helps ignite your metabolism and most hot sauces are incredibly low in fat and calories. Add some to your cooked protein or into a pressed juice and send your body into fat-loss mode!
10. Sprouted Bread -- Another way to be smart with your carbs, this bread is made with whole grains that have actually germinated, or sprouted. This bread is easier to digest and provides amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and fiber.
A better breakfast is possible and well worth the time it takes to make it. eVitamins carries a wide selection of healthy groceries to help you maintain a balanced diet. So put down that drive-through "yogurt parfait" (which typically has enough sugar and calories to be a sundae) and get in the kitchen!