Easy and Healthy Breakfasts You Can Make Even When You're Short on Time
Here's how to make your first meal of the day a nutritious one without making yourself crazy.
I sound like such a dietitian saying this, but breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. It doesn’t have to be a large and complicated meal, but you do want to get a balance of nutrients from some simple and healthy ingredients (no toaster pastries, please!).
Here are some quick and easy ideas to start your day.
When it comes to nutrients, breakfast should be balanced. Healthy carbs and fat should be represented, along with fiber-rich fruits or veggies. One nutrient that is often overlooked at breakfast is protein. According to research, most Americans eat the least amount of protein at breakfast, but modifying this can have a beneficial affect on heart heal th. This all may seem like a tall order for a morning meal, but a balanced breakfast can be easy to achieve. Whole grains along with those aforementioned fruits and veggies provide the carbs; dairy and eggs are easy go-tos for high-quality protein. Nut butters, nuts and seeds, granola, avocado, and olive oil are sources of healthy fat that are no strangers to breakfast.
Why Breakfast Is So Important
Beginning your day with something to eat revs up your metabolism and gives you energy. Eating breakfast also helps you spread out your calories throughout the day, which can help you avoid overeating in the afternoon and evening. If you don’t consider yourself a breakfast person, start out with something small — a piece of fruit or a non-fat yogurt. Within a few days, you’ll wonder how you ever made it through the morning without it. Breakfast doesn’t have to be fancy. You DO have time for something!
Look no further than your pantry and kitchen counter for a quick and easy breakfast. Here are four simple ideas that don’t require refrigeration, so you can pack them in advance:
- Granola bar and an apple
- 1/2 peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- A handful of almonds and a banana
- Dried fruit and 5 or 6 whole-wheat crackers
Whip up a smoothie! My favorite lately is frozen blueberries, half a banana, 100% orange juice and some low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt. Build easy and delicious parfaits with yogurt or cottage cheese and some fresh fruit. You can never go wrong with a bowl of low-sugar, whole-grain cereal — add some fresh or dried fruit for some extra vitamins and fiber.
Warm and Satisfying Ideas
Cook up a healthy breakfast in less than 10 minutes. Try a batch of baked oatmeal or instant oatmeal in the microwave. Go for the unsweetened kinds (flavored varieties have tons of sugar) and cook in water or skim milk. Make your own oatmeal flavors by adding fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Eggs are another healthy and fast option. Scramble up one or two, grab some whole-grain toast and make a handy sandwich or burrito. Plan ahead and bake a batch of muffins. You can store them in the freezer and transfer to the microwave when you’re in the mood for something freshly baked.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.