Flavorful Ideas to Build an Easy, Better Breakfast
Nutritionist Stephanie Miezin shares the best formula to fuel your morning.
Prioritize your health and vitality by starting your day with a better, more balanced breakfast. Research shows that when you consume a balanced breakfast that includes protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and fresh fruit, you can lower sugar cravings, reduce hunger, and boost focus, energy, and concentration throughout your day.
The benefits of a balanced breakfast far outweigh the extra time necessary to make it happen, say, nutrition experts. Why? Because food choices are interconnected throughout the day. So, getting a nourishing, balanced breakfast helps with better morning energy and will likely make it easier to choose healthier options at lunch and beyond.
And while some hectic households have a “grab and go” lifestyle while rushing to work, school, or home-office zoom meetings, healthy breakfast options should still be a goal, says Stephanie Miezin, MS, RD, CSSD, Director of Nutrition at Canyon Ranch.
Adopting better breakfast habits doesn’t have to be complicated, require a lot of food, or be extraordinarily time-consuming. Breakfast should be built in a balanced, satisfying way, and ‘enough’ for individual needs.
Stephanie suggests building a balanced breakfast with the formula of protein + carbs + color (fruits/veggies).
“Protein is essential for satisfaction after eating, supports strong muscle, and can balance blood glucose, which can help with a more steady energy and focus in the morning,” Stephanie explains.
Examples of protein foods for breakfast include eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, smoked salmon, or turkey sausage.
Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for the brain and body. Focus on fiber-rich carbs for longer-lasting energy and to support gut health. Some fiber-rich carb foods include whole-grain bread, fruits, beans, potatoes, oats, granola, and whole grain cereals.
Color from veggies and/or fruits in the morning jump-starts the day with great nutrition from antioxidant-rich foods that can improve feelings of well-being and lower the risk of cancer and other diseases. Stephanie says to choose a variety of types and colors of fruits and veggies for maximum benefits. Studies show the importance of creating a breakfast that contains 15-25% of total daily calories and ideally 20% of micronutrient goals, focusing on calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and fiber.
Below she shares quick, easy, and balanced breakfast ideas using the protein + carbs + color formula:
- Greek yogurt with fruit, a palmful of granola (or other whole grain cereal), and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds on top.
- Veggie scrambled eggs (or omelet) with a side of whole grain toast or English muffin and a side of fruit.
- Smoothie made with fresh or frozen fruit, protein from Greek yogurt (or a protein powder), milk of choice, and a spoonful of nut butter.
- Whole wheat bagel topped with smoked salmon, a bit of cream cheese if desired, and a slice of tomato, and cucumber slices.
- Cottage cheese with peaches and pepitas.
- Poached eggs with roasted sweet or white potatoes and spinach sautéed with garlic.
- Overnight oats made with rolled oats, milk of choice, protein from Greek yogurt or a protein powder, chia seeds, a spoonful of nut butter, and desired additions such as cocoa powder or cinnamon.
- Breakfast burrito with veggie scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and salsa in a whole wheat tortilla.
- Tofu scramble, black beans, and sautéed peppers and onions
Smoothies are a great and fast option during the week and can be built to be balanced, as the above example shows. Juices, however, are not considered a full breakfast as they can be high in sugar and low in fiber. If providing juice with a meal, opt to water it down to lower sugar levels, especially if diabetes runs in the family, Stephanie recommends.
Limit foods or preparations that add significant amounts of saturated fat, sugar, and sodium to breakfast. Food examples to limit:
- Saturated fat: bacon, butter, traditional/high fat pork or turkey sausages
- Sugar: juice with added sugar, cereals with high amounts of added sugar, baked goods like muffins, some pre-made and homemade waffles, pancakes, and other baked goods
- Sodium: bacon, sausages, some breads, canned beans, salt used in seasoning.