What Makes a Healthy Breakfast?
I debated which recipe to share when my bff emailed me saying that she loved my blog on sugar –
as she put some brown sugar on her oatmeal. Whaaat?? After supplying a list of yummy low glycemic sugars?
Then I thought, I should share how I eat my oatmeal – tasty, satisfying, healthy breakfast, with no added sugar. Maybe people don’t know what makes a healthy breakfast. Here are the basic components:
- Complex Carbohydrate: a long burning energy source, whole grains are #1, fruits and veggies are great, too
- Good Fat: take 2 hours longer to burn than other nutrients, stave off hunger, make you feel satisfied (nuts, nut butter, seeds, non-dairy butter substitutes, good oils)
- Protein: form complete proteins by eating whole grains with nuts and seeds. Don’t have to get your protein from animal sources, like eggs, bacon, or dairy, but can. Go for egg whites, soy yogurt, or try kefir, cultured coconut or soymilk.
Have an easy, yummy power-start to your day with oatmeal:
- Get the real oatmeal. Steel cut or rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill sells Gluten-free Rolled Oats – note that steel cut oats take longer to cook than rolled oats).
- This recipe takes about 8 minutes (the way I like it with the fruit) depending how thick you like it.
- Rolled oats taste better and have more texture, nutrition, and fiber than quick oats or any processed, pre-packaged instant oatmeal.
Is she crazy? Take 8 minutes to make breakfast? Are most people so over-scheduled and priority-flipped that 8 minutes for an easy, awesome breakfast to fuel your day seems out of the question?
Sugar-filled pop-tarts, cereal, muffins, or donuts are better options? Check out my PB&J Oatmeal Recipe.
What Makes This a Healthy Breakfast?
Complex Carbohydrate: A Real Energy Source
- a whole grain
- a whole food
- unrefined and unprocessed
- slow burning so it will sustain your energy and keep away hunger for hours, especially if combined with a good fat.
- a good source of fiber, protein, and other vitamins and minerals that many Americans don’t get on a regular basis.
If you start your day with sugar, you will most likely crave it all day because your blood sugar will spike, your body will produce insulin to bring it down, you’ll crash, then you’ll crave more sugar.
If you keep feeding that craving you will be caught in that cycle – as many Americans are. Eating food high in sugar or simple carbohydrates that break down into simple sugars don’t supply the body with real energy or real nutrition, which is why people who eat large amounts of them tend to feel hungry (even after eating), lethargic, and dissatisfied.
Good Fats Keep Hunger and Cravings Away
If you read my blog on fats, you know how important they are and how much fat you should be eating. Remember, good fats help burn fat, and make you to feel satisfied! They also have other health benefits to your heart, hair and skin, nerve endings, joint health, and brain function – just to name a few.
Grains and nuts are high in protein, but like legumes, individually they are incomplete proteins. That is why we use a little match.com action and pair them up – because together, they are complete. (Do you hear angels singing?)
These are not exact stats because it will depend on what brands you choose, but based on the 2,000 calorie portion this breakfast will give you roughly:
Healthy Breakfast PB & J Oatmeal (higher numbers with flax seed*)
- Calories 365-395
- Fat: 10-12 g (3 sources of good fats to sustain the body and nourish it with different vitamins and minerals – grain, soy, and nut)
- Fiber: 10-12 g of (high fiber from complex carbohydrates that burn slowly in your system, keeping you full, energetic, and satisfied)
- Protein: 15-16.5 g of (amino acids in grains, beans, nuts – and seeds – complement one another)
- Sugar: 16 g (all naturally occurring from food, i.e. fruit – no sugar added)
That’s a great start to a day that will keep you full for quite a few hours.
*Flax seed is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, the rich source of the fat in flax seed and flax seed oil actually help the body burn fat, among numerous other health benefits. Be sure to grind it just before eating it, otherwise it will oxidize and lose most of its health benefits.
Compared to a Slow-You-Down Dunkin’ Donuts Blueberry Muffin…
- Calories: 480
- Fat: 15 g (most likely one main source of fat – butter or oil)
- Fiber: 2 g (lack of fiber from simple carbohydrates that burn quickly into simple sugars, making you hungry soon, tired, and often causing food cravings)
- Protein: 6 g (protein source most likely from wheat flour, but it an incomplete protein)
- Sugar: 46 g (from added refined sugar causing sugar spikes and crashes)
How soon will you be hungry after eating that? That’s a bunch of your day’s fat and calories without much nutrition. 🙁
Mix It Up
Fruit: I go with high fiber fruits that have lots of antioxidants and vitamins like berries, pears and apples (with skin).
Nut butter: There are lots of nut butters besides peanut butter, almond butter and soy butter have great nutritional qualities. Will they make a walnut butter?
Milk: Best to buy unsweetened. Coconut, soy, and nut milks have distinct flavors, and are generally good sources of protein and fat. I find soy has the least distinct taste of the three so when I want a milk that is more of a blank slate I use soy. You can make oatmeal with water, I personally just find it bland and less creamy.
- In the recipe above, you substitute one large apple (with skin) for one cup of blueberries (both have about 4 g of fiber) and make it PB & A for breakfast.
- Coconut milk with pineapple and strawberries – skip the nut butter because the coconut milk has a good amount of fat and sprinkle with a couple tsp almond or walnut pieces instead.
- Soymilk with almond butter and blackberries.
- Almond milk with almond butter and an apples or pear.
- Coconut milk with peaches and 1/4 tsp of fresh ginger – again skip the nut butter and sprinkle with a couple tsp almond or walnut pieces on top.
- Try out different combinations – be creative and let me know what you come up with!
And you can ALWAYS add 1 TBS of ground flaxseed on top!
DID YOU KNOW?
Ginger is a great appetite suppressant, plus it gets the circulation system moving as well as your metabolism. It’s a great way to start the day – one of the reasons why I love my herbal ginger tea in the morning. It’s also a wonderful aid to digestion, or to to help a late night hunger pang pass when I know it’s just too late to eat or when I’ve had my fill of food for the day.