Best Healthy Breakfast Menu Ideas
Everyone knows that the most important meal of the day is breakfast. Read our guide to discover some excellent healthy breakfast ideas to ensure you get off to the best possible start each day.
Finding time in your busy schedule to eat a good, wholesome breakfast can be tough. But it’s important. Studies have shown that eating a nutritious breakfast can help to reduce risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes, and can contribute to a faster metabolism and weight loss.
Eating the right foods at breakfast is also important to get your recommended intake of vitamins and minerals, such as thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium and iron. Sadly, however, it is estimated that only about 72% of adults and 86% of children eat a satisfactory breakfast that provides the right blend of nutrients and calories.
Are you one of those who might be stuck for good, healthy yet fast and easy ideas for breakfast foods? Look no further. We’ve compiled an epic list of breakfast ideas that all fulfill several important criteria. The first of these is that they are obviously healthy and provide a myriad of health benefits. Second, we’ve tried to stick to meals that are easy to fast to prepare, as we know most people are frantically busy in the mornings and don’t exactly have time to bake croissants and soufflé from scratch.
Before we get into specific breakfast ideas, let’s look at some basic tips to follow to ensure a healthy start to the day. These tips are based off years of meticulous research in the field of nutrition by leading scientists and proven methodologies to increase athletic performance, increase metabolism and reduce hunger pangs throughout the day.
- The ideal breakfast should be limited to between 500 and 800 calories. A recent study published in the Nutrition Journal indicated that a reduced breakfast energy intake is strongly associated with lower total overall daily food intake, and a high calorie breakfast is associated with a higher overall calorie intake for the day. The reasons for this are not totally clear – but the results are important – to limit the chances of getting hungry through the day and overeating, try and limit your caloric intake at breakfast to around 500-800 calories. The composition of these calories should be around 50% from carbohydrates, 25% from protein and 25% from fats.
- Drink one or two glasses of water first thing in the morning, to help hydrate your body properly and give your kidneys a kickstarter for the day.
- Add a cup of coffee or black or green tea to your breakfast – both coffee and tea are loaded with antioxidants that have been shown to help prevent certain types of cancers and diseases. Any coffee drinker will tell you that caffeine is fantastic in the morning for giving you a nice little energy boost to help start the day.
- Replace your glass of fruit juice with a piece of whole fruit. Not only will you be getting a lot more added fiber in the whole fruit, which helps with digestion throughout the day, but you’ll also be avoiding a lot of that nasty processed sugar.
- If you’re going to eat toast for breakfast, that’s fine – just try and make sure it’s whole. Wholegrain foods contain all parts of the grain, as opposed to white bread which has many nutritious parts of the grain stripped away. Wholegrain breads also provide a lower glycemic index (GI) which means you gain a slower release of energy as opposed to a large burst of energy which quickly turns to fat.
Okay, with those tips out of the way, let’s dive straight into our recommendations for some of the best healthy breakfast menu items.
Wholemeal Pita Bread
Being one quarter French, I absolutely adore breads of all kinds, and there is no healthier bread-based option for breakfast than wholemeal pita bread.
Pita Bread is a delicious form of round pocket bread, originating from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, and is a perfect choice for breakfast due to its quick and easy preparation time and low glycemic index, providing lost-lasting energy throughout the day. Did I mention it’s delicious?
Wholemeal pita bread is also very low in calories, with one large slice containing only 165 calories and 1 gram of fat. This means, given our 500-800 calorie limit for breakfast, you can have three slices of pita bread along with some whole fruit and you’re well on your way to a great, healthy breakfast. Pita bread also has a good amount of iron and calcium in it, both essential nutrients.
Most people will probably just buy pita bread straight from the bakery or supermarket, and that’s fair enough, but if you are the ambitious type who likes to make their own, here’s a fantastic pita bread recipe for you.
- 175g strong wholemeal bread flour plus extra for dusting
- 75g strong white bread flour
- 5g salt
- 7g instant yeast
- 140 – 165ml cool water
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Combine the flours in a large sized mixing bowl. Add the salt to one side and yeast to the other. Add 140ml of water and the olive oil and turn the mixture round with your fingers, picking up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. Ideally the dough will be soft but not too soggy. Add a little more of the water if necessary, but not too much
- Tip the dough onto a bench and knead it for 5 – 10 minutes until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
- When the dough is smooth and silky, shape it into a round a place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 1 – 2 hours, preferably in a warm place. One hour is probably the minimum amount of time it will take to double in size, but you can leave it anything up to three.
- Put a baking stone or tray in the oven and heat it to 220C (428 degrees fahrenheit).
- Dust the work surface with wholemeal flour. Tip your risen dough onto the work surface and gently fold it inwards on itself until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Divide your dough into eight equal sized pieces and shape each piece into a ball, keeping them covered with a tea towel as you work.
- With a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oval approx. 3mm thick, keeping it generously dusted with flour.
- Scatter your hot baking stone or tray with flour then lay as many pitta breads as will fit without touching onto it. Bake for 5 – 10 minutes (mine took closer to 5 minutes), removing the pittas from the oven as soon as they show any sign of colour. This will ensure they are beautifully soft.
- Allow the pittas to cool under a tea towel – the trapped steam will keep them soft. These pittas are best eaten within 24 hours of making but they also freeze beautifully – you can defrost them in the oven or straight into the toaster.
Another healthy breakfast menu idea is muesli. Muesli is a staple of athletes and fitness gurus everywhere. It’s a very popular breakfast meal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts, and can be bought in a pre-packaged dry form, ready made, or made fresh.
While the pre-made muesli mixes are still good for you, a lot of them contain a very high proportion of grains to fruit, which isn’t the best mix to achieve optimal levels of carbohydrate intake. If you want to achieve the ideal blend of nutrients for your breakfast, try adding some additional fruits and nuts to your muesli mix, such as strawberries, hazelnuts, raisins and walnuts.
If you want to go the extra mile and make home-made muesli, here’s a great recipe that we recommend:
Muesli with strawberries, cranberries and cinnamon
- 4 cups (360g) rolled oats
- 1 cup (110g) bran cereal
- 1/2 cup (80g) pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels)
- 1/2 cup (80g) sunflower seeds
- 1 cup (125g) pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1 x 170g pkt dried cranberries
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 80g butter, chopped
- 1 cup (250ml) maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (356 F). Grease a large roasting pan with melted butter.
- Combine the oats, bran cereal, pepitas, sunflower seeds, pecans, cranberries and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Place the butter and maple syrup in the roasting pan. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes or until butter melts and is foaming. Add the oat mixture and stir to combine. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Repeat the process a further 2 times until muesli is lightly toasted. Set aside to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Porridge is everyone’s favorite winter breakfast meal, consisting of crushed or chopped cereal (usually oats) in water or milk, and usually steaming hot to combat those chilly mornings.
Porridge is a great choice for a healthy breakfast – while it’s fairly high in carbs, most of these carbs are of the low glycemic-index variety, and thus provide a slow release of energy ideal throughout the day, ideal for reducing hunger pangs and lowering your overall calorie intake. As long as you don’t go overboard adding delicacies like cream cheese and chocolate to your porridge, it’s one of the healthiest breakfast foods you can imagine.
The most common type of porridge, oatmeal porridge, is very easy and quick to make. Just follow the directions below.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 125g brown sugar
- 1 cup berries (fresh or frozen) or 2 sliced bananas (or both!)
- Place oats, cinnamon, 4 cups of water and a dab of salt in a saucepan. Stir above low heat for 5 minutes, then leave to simmer for about another 5 minutes.
- Place the sugar in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons water and stir over low heat until it dissolves. Increase the heat to a medium level and cook until mixture has browned – it should only take about 2-3 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly.
- Serve up the porridge. Sprinkle the bananas or berries on top of the porridge and serve with a dusting of additional cinnamon.
Yoghurt is another common option for breakfast, loved by many because it’s so quick and easy (hardly any preparation needed with store-bought yoghurt) and offers nutritional benefits like healthy strains of bacteria to assist your immune and digestive system.
There are lots of different varieties of yoghurt out there, some of which are definitely healthier than others – eating full-cream, full-fat yoghurt probably isn’t going to help you lose weight anytime soon, but some of the lower-fat varieties are quite healthy – in fact, a study in the International Journal of Obesity demonstrated that consumption of reduced-fat yoghurt can assist with weight loss over a 6-week period.
Let’s be honest here, not many are going to go out and make their own yoghurt in the mornings – store bought varieties are fine – but there are some things you can do to add some extra nutritional benefit to your yoghurt and help give you a little boost in the mornings.
One of the best things to do is simply add sliced fruit. Strawberries, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or a combination of any of these will add a delicious and nutrient-dense supplement to your yoghurt. A lot of people also recommend adding things like dry cereal – cinnamon crunch toast, or Kashi go-lean cereal are particularly recommended options. Read on for more menu ideas.
Wholegrain toast with fruit
This one’s for the particularly busy or time-starved. If, like many out there, you simply don’t have the time to do a lot of preparation, heating or cooking in your mornings, one healthy and easy alternative is simple wholegrain toast or bread with some whole pieces of fruit.
Wholegrain bread is low GI, which means it will provide a long-lasting source of energy, and eating the toast with some whole fruits like apples, bananas, oranges or peaches means you’ll get an excellent blend of carbohydrates and essential vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin C and iron.
You can just use low-fat margarine or butter as a topping for the toast, alternatively if you want some extra flavor you can use 100% fruit jam or even a dabbing of ricotta cheese.
Crispbread with avocado, hummus and tomato
A wholemeal crispbread topped with avocado and optional hummus and tomato is one of the healthiest and yummiest meals you could possibly think of. The crispbread will provide you with much needed grains and fiber for digestion, and the avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat (a healthy, essential type of fat) that provides long-lasting energy and very high amounts of potassium.
photo credit: Leilany Argil via photopin cc
photo credit: MrTopf via photopin cc
photo credit: lizziecow via photopin cc
photo credit: Daniel E Lee via photopin cc
photo credit: Nick Saltmarsh via photopin cc
photo credit: Renée S. Suen via photopin cc
image credit: EatLiveRun