Eat your breakfast!
One of my absolutely favorite things about what I do as a health writer and coach is answering questions for each one of you. Not only do I love meeting you, but it thrills me to know I might be able to help you in even a small way during your health journey.
I was speaking to a group of college students the other day and one of the top questions was, “I’m horrible at eating breakfast. What can I eat that’s healthy and quick?”
Of course, we’ve all heard it before: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But the morning can also be one of our most hectic times of day. Wrangling the kids to get ready for school, running out the door for work and, in this case, being a college student with limited options can all get in the way of choosing a healthy breakfast nosh.
Here are five of my favorite breakfasts all of which can be prepared the night before and grabbed before heading out the door. Each one starts with a base and allows you to come up with your own creation by making various additions. Time to fuel your day!
Oatmeal: Oats are packed with folate, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids and beta-glucan – a fiber known for lowering cholesterol when made a regular part of a diet. Plus, oatmeal is one of those stick-to-your-ribs breakfasts that will stay with you all day. If you have time and access to a stove, whip up a batch of rolled or steel cut oats at the beginning of the week and scoop from it as needed. Top with honey, maple syrup, fresh fruit, raw nuts and dried fruit. If you are gluten-free, be sure to choose a certified gluten-free brand. If you need to rely on instant oatmeal, choose one that contains limited added sugar, like Kashi brands or Quaker Cinnamon Swirl High Fiber Instant Oatmeal, which contains just 7 grams of sugar.
Eggs: These babies used to get a bad rap for being high in dietary cholesterol, but research now shows a moderate dose of cholesterol in our foods has less of an impact on our blood cholesterol than we originally thought. It’s a good thing, too, because eggs are a great option for breakfast. Prep two eggs scrambled or omelet-style, top with mushrooms, peppers, onions, spinach and even a spoonful of feta or goat cheese. You might also try hard boiling eggs for a grab-and-go option.
Greek yogurt: Like oatmeal, it’s best to start with a plain Greek yogurt base and added toppings for a touch of sweetness. Flavored yogurts can be a sugar-loaded health bomb and not nearly as filling as its creamy Greek yogurt brother. Plus, going Greek means you’ll get twice as much protein as regular yogurt. Top your yogurt with fresh fruit, honey, maple syrup, raw nuts, dried fruit or even a spoonful or two of granola for a filling breakfast option.
Peanut and almond butter: It might seem silly to have an entire category devoted to these delicious butters, but the truth is they can sometimes mean the difference between you having a quick breakfast or nothing at all. On my absolutely busiest days, a banana with one of these two is my go-to option. Spreading a tablespoon or two of almond or peanut butter on a toasted slice of whole grain or gluten-free bread will also do the trick. The bonus is they are both loaded with protein and monounsaturated fats.
Smoothies: It might sound basic, but a well-rounded smoothie is a favorite amongst on-the-go kings and queens. Start with 1 to 1-1/2 cups of a liquid base, such as dairy-free milk, cow’s milk or water, and add 1 cup of fruit such as a banana, chopped apples or fresh or frozen berries. Add a tablespoon of healthy fats like peanut or almond butter or flaxseed meal, which is also packed with fiber. If you’re feeling brave, you can also toss in a handful of spinach – the fruit will mask the “green” taste and you will get a healthy dose of leafy greens first thing in the morning. Once you’ve added those basics, you can toss in four to five ice cubes, blend and go. Other fun additions include a scoop of plant-based protein powder (especially helpful to muscle recovery after a workout), a spoonful of honey, a tablespoon of chia seed or a tablespoon of cacao powder for a chocolatey boost.
I’m curious, what time of day do you find it difficult to squeeze in healthy eats? Send me an email and let me know.
Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the author of The Gluten-Free Revolution and a certified health coach who specializes in digestive health. She is also the author of the popular gluten-free blog, sincerelycaroline.com. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.