Putting together a healthy breakfast in the morning rush may seem challenging. But it is easier than you think. There really are some healthier and easy-to-create breakfast choices that you could be making. Whether you take a cue from ayurveda, pick something that is heart healthy, or steer clear of some store-bought goodie, a little change can go a long way. Here are some smart options to get you started.
1. Sweet Or Savory Porridge
If you’re going by what ayurveda suggests, your breakfast needs to be a warming food that is easy to digest. And porridge ticks all the boxes! You could stick with a traditional oatmeal topped with some fresh fruit or dates. Alternatively, try millet or oats in a savory porridge with cumin, fenugreek seeds, some onions, fresh ginger, and ghee. Use yogurt on the side to cool off.1
Protein is a good way to kick off the day and eggs are among the most convenient and quick breakfast foods. Plus, they’re versatile, so you could have them poached, boiled, scrambled, or in an omelet loaded with veggies depending on how much time you have. Worried about the egg calories? There aren’t that many calories in an egg. Why protein? Because it keeps you satiated longer, so you won’t feel hungry for a while. Also, fewer chances of your munching on something you shouldn’t. In fact, researchers have actually suggested that a good breakfast choice is one that’s high on protein besides having a low glycemic load, but more on that later.2
3. Salmon And Other Lean Protein
If eggs don’t get you excited, how about a protein-rich start to the day with some salmon? It’s an ideal option for pescatarians too. Fatty fish like tuna or salmon also deliver all that omega 3 fatty acid goodness which protects your body from inflammation, lowering your risk of heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.3 Toss together a quick breakfast with salmon and a side of fresh veggies, eat some with scrambled eggs, or put some on wholegrain toast.
Berries are one of the easiest breakfast food additions and it won’t even feel like you’re punishing yourself. On the contrary, you may even feel like you’re having a very indulgent breakfast once you scatter those beautiful ruby red raspberries or orbs of blueberries over your yogurt or muesli or oatmeal. Even a smoothie powered up with berries works a treat. What makes them so good? Berries will deliver a vitamin-rich boost to your body first thing in the morning, giving you antioxidants that protect against inflammation and even lower bad low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.4
If you’re worried about eating the sugar in the berries, rest assured you’re not breaking any rules. The American Diabetes actually recommends berries among the superfoods for diabetes.5
5. Fresh Vegetables
Research suggests that having some vegetables at breakfast may help ensure you meet the daily recommended intake of this food group without falling short of it. Consuming low glycemic index and low glycemic load foods can help boost your health in general and may even lower your risk of metabolic disorders as well as liver problems.6 Try adding some fresh vegetables to your eggs or toss together a little salad. You could even make it the night before if time is at a premium.
However, if you want to be especially good, cooking your vegetables gently can work even better. Ayurveda recommends consuming your veggies cooked and not raw to aid digestion early in the day. Experiment with lentil soup, mashed sweet potatoes, or winter squash seasoned with some cumin. Or keep it familiar with steamed broccoli or some carrots or peas along with your savory porridge.
6. Grapefruit And Other Low Glycemic Index Fruit
Load up on vitamins and antioxidants from grapefruit that are good for your skin and also fight free radical damage both inside and out. Or stew a small serving of pears or apples with no added sugar. Fruit as well 100 percent fruit juice can help count toward your five portions a day of fresh vegetables and fruit. Just take care not to have more than a third of your fruit group intake via juice. Orange and grapefruit juice are smart choices because they are nutrient dense, giving you more goodness by way of vitamins/minerals per cup than most other juices.7
However, there is fruit and there is fruit. A sweet, calorie-laden bowl full of grapes, pineapples, or mangoes is not the same as, say, a grapefruit. For instance, 100 gm of grapes contain 16.25 gm of sugar and 67 kcal compared to just 6.89 gm of sugar and 42 kcal in a similar portion of grapefruit.8 9 If you do choose the sweeter fruit with higher glycemic index, have a small half serving.
Yogurt is a probiotic that contains “good” bacteria that are beneficial for your gut. The lactobacillus strains in yogurt help improve mucosal immune function. This can ward off illnesses that originate in and impact your respiratory system, urogenital tract, and digestive tract.10 Eat your Greek yogurt plain or top it with fruit or stewed fruit for a dash of natural sweetness. Avoid sugary “flavored” yogurts. Even the ones that seem natural may contain a lot of sugar, so stick to sweetening it yourself.
For a quick on-the-move breakfast, whizz up yogurt with the fruit or dates in the blender for a smoothie. Top it with pumpkin seeds or flax seeds for extra fiber and goodness.
8. Whole Grain Bread
Breakfast also presents an opportunity to eat some whole grain foods. Getting in this kind of carb at breakfast is better than loading carbs at the end of the day at dinner time. So if you must get your fix of bread, this is arguably the best time to do it. Try having fiber-rich foods like whole grain bread or spelt or oatmeal porridge.
Many Americans do not meet the recommended levels of “food groups to encourage” as per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These include whole grains, so seize this chance to add some to your chart. They can help reduce the risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, and obesity due to the combination of nutrients they contain, including fiber.11
Of course, gluten allergies or sensitivities or Celiac disease might be a problem for some and traditional flour could prove problematic. However, for everyone else looking for a quick, on-the-go breakfast, eating a whole grain sandwich ups the fiber intake and makes for a healthier choice than, say, a refined white bread sandwich. Make it count even more by slapping some fresh vegetables or lean protein between the slices.
9. Lemon/Lime Water
Kick start the day with a healthy drink as well. Try having a glass of warm water first thing in the morning, with some lemon or lime squeezed into it. The warm water encourages muscular contractions in the intestinal walls to aid bowel movements, purging waste from your body. The lemon/lime is vitamin- and mineral-rich and is believed to help free up toxins – known as ama in ayurveda – from your digestive tract. That way, you begin each day properly cleansed from the inside out.12 Think of it as a daily detox! This can help your kidneys do their job better and may even help if you have acne or are struggling with a weight problem.13
10. Spice It Up!
Try consuming a touch of warming spice to stoke the agni or digestive fire every morning, as ayurveda suggests. Certain spices can actually help get your metabolism going, so adding them to your oatmeal, porridge, eggs, or even a sandwich or fruit is not a bad idea. Alternatively, some may even work well in your beverage of choice – a little hit of cinnamon or cardamom in your Turkish-style coffee or some fresh ginger and pepper in your chai can be divine! Other spices to work into your breakfast are basil, cayenne, allspice, cloves, mustard, rosemary, turmeric, and fenugreek. Avoid mint, fennel, and coriander – these are cooling and best avoided in the morning.14