From juggling work agendas to getting the kids ready, it can be tempting to skip breakfast on hectic mornings. But think twice before ditching this important meal.
“Breakfast gives our bodies and minds energy to start the day,” says registered dietitian Kristy Hogger. “By skipping breakfast, we may also skip important nutritional benefits.”
Even if you’re dashing out the door, Hogger says there are some simple ways to create better breakfasts that work with the time you have on hand. Here is some expert advice that will inspire you to become a breakfast champion.
Start Your Day Right
A complete breakfast helps kick-start your body, boosting energy levels so you can tackle your busy day. “Breakfast contributes important nutrients and helps us to meet our overall nutrient requirements,” says Hogger. “It may also help us to maintain a healthy body weight by reducing hunger throughout the day and preventing overeating at later meals.”
And missing this meal can result in more than rumbling bellies and hangry moods. “Without breakfast, it can be difficult to concentrate at work or school,” says Hogger. “Or we may lack the energy necessary to effectively do our jobs. And it can be difficult to make up for those lost nutrients at other meals.”
A Balancing Act
There’s no “right” breakfast plan, but following Canada’s Food Guide can help you create a wholesome breakfast. “A balanced breakfast consists of foods from at least three food groups,” says Hogger. “This will provide a good distribution of carbohydrate, fat, protein and essential vitamins and minerals.”
For example, sandwich an egg in an English muffin and pair it with half a cup of orange juice or a piece of fruit; or mix three-quarters of a cup of yogourt with half a cup of sliced fruit and 30 g of bran cereal. Whenever possible, incorporate protein into the plan, as it helps curb hunger. “Good sources include eggs, nut butters, Greek yogourt, cottage cheese and lean meats such as ham or back bacon,” says Hogger.
Short on time or ingredients? “Grabbing a banana and a granola bar is okay, too,” she says. “Eating something is better than nothing!”
Breakfast by the Clock
No matter when and where you’re eating, we’ve done the math to ensure you can fit breakfast into your day.
Grab and Go
Need an energy blast? This Greens, Blueberry & Fruit Smoothie — packed with avocado, banana and mango — is ideal. “A great pre-workout snack, it provides carbohydrates for energy,” says Hogger. “Have one cup of this smoothie with one or two slices of toast and two tablespoons of peanut butter for a balanced meal.” Or watch our video below and learn how to whip up a trendy smoothie bowl, which can be topped up for a balanced breakfast by adding a quarter cup of any combination of nuts and seeds along with 30 g of oats or dry cereal. Even more convenient, the smoothie can be sipped on the go from an insulated bottle and the smoothie bowl is transportable in a reusable container with the toppings in a re-sealable bag. (Remember to consume within two hours of making if you are not storing on ice or in a cooler.)
For something different, take five minutes to prep creamy chia pudding the night before. In a portable mason jar, combine two tablespoons of chia seeds with one cup of milk (nut, soy, rice and dairy all work) and sweetener to taste. Refrigerate overnight, then top with your choice of half a cup of fresh (or a quarter cup of dried) fruit and two tablespoons of nuts and enjoy as part of your breakfast. If you’re eating away from home, pack the toppings separately and then combine once ready.
Dine and Dash
Got 15 minutes? That’s all you need to enjoy one of these hearty recipes. Skip the drive-thru and make a Ham, Tomato and Cheddar Egg Muffin instead. A toasted English muffin stacked with ham, tomatoes, cheese and a fried egg, “this sandwich provides a balanced breakfast with fibre, protein, and fat—all for under 400 calories,” says Hogger.
For a Crunchy Pear, Anise & Havarti Sandwich, layer whole grain bread with pear, cucumber and fennel slices, then top with havarti. “Add an extra piece of fruit to the side to create a more balanced meal and boost your fruit intake for the day,” says Hogger.
Time for Breakfast and a Newspaper
Perk up your morning with an open-faced Spicy Avocado-Tomato Cheese Melt. “Include one cup of milk or three-quarters of a cup of yogourt with this recipe to make it a complete meal,” adds Hogger.
Or bring Easy Huevos Rancheros to the table by topping salsa and beans with fried eggs, shredded cheese, avocado and cilantro. It’s not too good to be true: “This recipe is packed with fibre and protein thanks to the beans and eggs,” says Hogger. Serve it with a small whole wheat or multigrain tortilla to round out the meal.
All the Time You Need
On leisurely weekend mornings, serve Baked Eggs with Potato, Bacon & Tomato family-style. Everyone will savour the smoky paprika- and woodsy thyme-flavoured veggie-bacon mix with a crisp egg on top. “The smaller portion size allows you to enjoy a delicious combination of bacon and potatoes while keeping calories, fat and sodium in check,” says Hogger. Add a cup of milk or soy milk on the side to complete the meal.
Alternatively, go gourmet with a Mushroom, Spinach & Goat Cheese Strata, a casserole made with the breakfast staples bread and eggs. “Baby spinach, red pepper and mushrooms pack nutrients into this savoury bake while keeping you satisfied with eggs and bread,” says Hogger. Bonus: You can prep the recipe the night before and bake in the morning. Combine this recipe with a cup of milk or soy milk, or three-quarters of a cup of yogourt for a balanced meal.
A basket of savoury prosciutto- and chive-speckled Gouda & Egg Breakfast Muffins will have everyone jumping out of bed. Put the balance in breakfast by including three-quarters of a cup of yogourt and a piece of fruit with a single serving (1 muffin). If time permits, bake an extra batch and freeze them individually, so you can grab and go as needed during the week that follows.