Sometimes it seems like a healthy breakfast leaves you with only two options:
Eggs and oatmeal
Oatmeal and eggs
This apparent lack of options makes it easy to see why so many people eventually cave in and grab-and-go fast food, load up on pancakes or waffles, or skip the meal altogether. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you think outside the cereal box, and add a few unconventional ingredients, you'll have plenty of options to keep you full each morning. The following meals are quick and easy to create, giving you plenty of answers the next time you wonder, “What’s for breakfast?”
Think outside the cereal box, add a few unconventional ingredients, and you'll have enough tasty options to keep you full.
Fruit Crunch Burritos
Whole-grain tortillas aren’t just for savory wraps — they’re also a delicious way to create a handheld breakfast that’s great for busy mornings. Start by spreading peanut butter on the tortilla, and then sprinkle with sliced almonds, says Suzanne Farrell, M.S., R.D. Then add a couple of dollops of canned pumpkin puree, a few thin apple slices, and a handful of raisins. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and then fold in the ends and roll into a burrito. If you’re in a hurry, wrap it in a paper towel and take it on the go.
THE BENEFITS: The protein from the almonds and peanut butter, and the slowly digested whole grains will help keep you full. The pumpkin puree adds a boost of vitamin A, while the apples and raises boost the fiber content to help balance your blood sugar.
You might be surprised to know that your old college standby of cold pizza isn’t the worst breakfast you could have, but why settle for a day-old slice when you can make a fresh, hot and healthful version in just a few minutes? Start with a base of a small, whole-grain pita, recommends Farrell. Cut the pita in half and spread the inside of each half with a spoonful of marina sauce (look for a version made without added sugar). Then scrambled two eggs with baby spinach and finely diced red bell peppers and cook until firm. Divide the veggie scramble amongst the two pita halves. Sprinkle with shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese, and then top each pita half with a dash of Italian seasoning or dried Italian herbs. Wrap each half in foil and place in the toaster for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
THE BENEFITS: The eggs are filled with muscle-building protein, and are loaded with fibrous veggies that will keep you full and provide necessary vitamins and minerals. As an added bonus, the marinara is rich with health-boosting lycopene, and the cheese is filled with fat-fighting calcium.
Quinoa (Sweet or Savory)
Swap the expected (read: boring) bowl of oats for quinoa, says Amber Massey, R.D., L.D. Cook quinoa in water using a 1:1.25 ratio (of quinoa:water) until grains are fluffy and water is absorbed. Drizzle with a touch of pure maple syrup or honey, add a sprinkle of cinnamon and top with a handful of berries for a departure from the normal porridge. Or, cook quinoa the night before, and in the morning, blend with 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt, a tablespoon of honey, and a few tablespoons of ground flax seeds, which are rich in fiber and the essential fatty acid ALA.
If that doesn’t suite your taste buds, combine cooked, cooled quinoa with beaten eggs (use 2 eggs for every 1 cup quinoa). Stir in 1/4 cup grated low-fat cheddar cheese. Form into patties and cook in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Place a quinoa patty between two halves of a whole-grain English muffin, and add a few thin slices of crisp apple for a sweet-savory combination.
THE BENEFITS: Quinoa is a South American grain that’s loaded with protein, says Massey. But that’s just the beginning—quinoa is also relatively low in carbohydrates, is high in fiber, and is even filled with good fats. Safe to say, it’s a super food that will do your body right. The additions to either of these quinoa meals—whether it’s the antioxidant-loaded berries, the protein-filled eggs or Greek yogurt, or the flaxseeds that are loaded with essential fatty acids—make these options the new standard for health and flavor.
Don’t toss that leftover whole-wheat spaghetti after dinner — save it for breakfast the next day. A delicious Italian torta di pasta, or pasta frittata, is a great way to hit all of those notes. Start by heating a little bit of olive oil in a small, ovenproof nonstick skillet. Add a few tablespoons of finely diced red bell pepper and green onion, cooking until they’re softened. Add enough leftover spaghetti, angel hair or fettucine to create a layer at the bottom of the skillet, then beat 3 eggs or 2 eggs and 2 egg whites in a bowl and pour over the pasta. Let it set until it’s firm and golden on the bottom (the top will still be runny). Pop the pan under a preheated broiler until it turns golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve with sliced fresh tomatoes or a few pieces of turkey bacon.
THE BENEFITS: “Healthy breakfasts should include a complex carbohydrate, some protein and a healthy fat,” Massey says. You’ll have a hard time topping the combination of pasta, eggs, olive oil, and turkey bacon. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you: This foods can all play a role in a healthy diet—even a weight loss plan—as long as they’re not consumed in excess.
Dessert…for breakfast? It can be healthful if you make it the right way — filled with vitamin- and fiber-rich fruit. “I always tell clients to aim to get fruit into your breakfast, either as juice or in whole fruit form,” says Massey. Breakfast is an easy time to remember to eat fruit, she says, especially when it’s made into something irresistible like this sweet breakfast treat that only seems guilt inducing.
Fill a medium ovenproof ramekin with a handful of mixed berries. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup rolled oats and 1 tablespoon each chopped walnuts and ground flax seeds. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon melted Earth Balance, Smart Balance or other trans-fat-free spread and 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup. Stir oat mixture until moist, then mound on top of berries. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with low-fat Greek yogurt.
THE BENEFITS: This sweet-lovers dream is loaded with more nutrition than you’d expect. The berries provide memory-boosting antioxidants you need to stay sharp during the work day. The oats are a great source of hunger-fighting fiber, and the Greek yogurt is a quick and easy source of protein. Add in the ground flaxseeds and chopped walnuts, and you get a double-dose of fiber, plus essential fatty acids that will aid your metabolism and protect your cardiovascular health.