Healthy Breakfasts on the Go

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day – that’s not just an old wives’ tale. But, it can be the most challenging meal of the day as we are struggling to get ourselves ready for work, get our kids ready for school, maybe squeeze a workout, or leave earlier to drive the carpool. With everything that we have going on in our busy lives, it can be asking a lot just to eat breakfast let alone make it a healthy one.

Why is Breakfast So Important?

As the first meal of the day,  breakfast literally breaks our fast from the night before while we were sleeping. Once we wake up, if we go too long before we eat, our bodies begin to go into a fight or flight stress response and starvation mode. This elevates the levels of cortisol, our stress hormone, in our bodies. Since our cortisol levels are naturally at their highest in the morning anyway, elevating them further this way ensures that your stress hormone levels will be higher than they should be for the rest of your day. Eating within an hour of waking up will prevent this stress response from occurring.

Breakfast is the fuel for our bodies to start our day. Think of it like this: your body, having healed and rejuvenated all night long, is like a nice new car with an empty gas tank in the morning. You wouldn’t put sludgy cheap fuel into your brand new shiny car, right? Likewise, you don’t want to put junk food into your body to fuel your morning. A healthy, balanced breakfast consists of a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate. You can add a healthy fat in there for bonus points as well. The complex carbohydrate is burned for energy but it is absorbed as a slower rate than a simple carbohydrate like a donut or sugary cereal. This slower absorption rate give you even levels of energy throughout your morning and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like a simple carb would. The protein further slows this absorption and provides fuel on it’s own as well. The combination of fiber in your complex carb and protein will leave you feeling fuller longer. A healthy fat added to the mix provides brain food to keep you on top of things as you start your day.

Healthy On-the-Go Breakfast Ideas

So now that I’ve bored you with the science, here are some suggestions for healthy breakfasts on the go!

  • Whole grain waffles (I recommend these waffles) with all-natural, no added sugar nut butter (like Teddie). Sprinkle them with some cinnamon or cocoa powder for more of a treat or top them with half a banana or sliced apple.
  • Whole grain toast with low-fat cheese or hummus and half an avocado
  • Smoothie made with plain, low-fat yogurt, 1/2 cup of fruit, and 1 cup of spinach. If you like to add protein powder, I recommend this protein powder as it also contains additional vitamins and minerals and is a clean protein.
  • Fried egg folded up in a slice of whole grain toast
  • A banana and nut butter rolled up in a whole wheat wrap or lavash
  •  Egg muffin cups
  • Baked oatmeal muffin cups
  • Overnight oats
  • Coffee Smoothie –  1 cup cold brew or iced coffee, 1/2 cup milk of choice, 1/2 frozen banana, 2 scoops vanilla protein powder, blend and enjoy!
  • Whole grain toast with low-fat ricotta cheese and sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon
  • 2 hard boiled eggs and a slice of whole grain toast and a piece of fruit
  • Savory quinoa and egg jar – pre-prep a big batch of quinoa and dish it into jars (1/2 cup serving) with whatever veggies you’d like and store in the fridge. In the morning, fry up an egg quickly and toss it in the jar to enjoy on the go. Or prep the whole thing in advance, microwave it for a minute, then go!

 

Got any favorite healthy breakfasts you take on the go? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Egg Muffin Cups

These egg muffin cups are super popular in the online healthy recipe world right now and for good reason – they’re a great way to get your healthy breakfast on the go!

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup shredded, low-fat cheese of choice

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tray with coconut oil or spray with cooking spray.
2. Beat eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
3. Stuff muffin cups with spinach evenly. Pour egg mixture over spinach until cups are 3/4 full. Top with cheese.
4. Bake egg cups for 20-25 minutes until eggs are cooked through. They will puff up while baking and then deflate a bit.

Serve hot and fresh out of the oven or store them in the fridge and reheat them throughout the week for breakfast on the go. These also freeze very well!

egg cups

Product Review: Kashi 7 Grain Freezer Waffles

Breakfast can be a very tricky meal when it comes to eating healthy because it’s often the meal we find the least amount of time for. However, as we know, most of the “convenience food” options there are for breakfast are anything but healthy choices and can set the stage for your eating for the rest of the day. Throw into the equation a picky eater, and you have quite the dilemma.

I get breakfast food questions a lot – people are trying their best to eat well but they are short on time and energy and they know that there are not many convenient options out there that will cut it. I also often hear “My kid will only eat waffles in the morning. Is there anything I can give him/her that isn’t as bad?” I became a health coach on a mission in the freezer section of Market Basket and I landed on Kashi 7 Grain frozen waffles.

kashi

The 3-5-3 Rule

The rule that I use in choosing a healthy breakfast cereal I also apply to other breakfast grains. Looking at the nutrition facts, you want to find a product that contains at least 3 grams of protein, less than 5 grams of sugar, and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

Kashi 7 Grain Waffles were a HUGE winner in this test with 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of fiber for 2 waffles. These are an option that will keep you feeling full and satisfied and will not lead to a large blood sugar spike and crash.

Ingredients

The ingredients list for Kashi 7 Grain Waffles is enough to make my little health coach heart go pitter patter. The majority of ingredients are various whole grains and ingredients that you would expect to see in a wholesome grain product. As we know from the nutrition facts, they contain minimal added cane sugar and I’m not concerned about the canola oil in it as it is non-GMO and there is not a large amount in them.

A couple ingredients that some people get concerned about – soy lecithin and xanthan gum. While they sound scary, you are going to find these additives in virtually any packaged food product.

Soy lecithin typically raises red flags for people because of the word “soy.” A little while back, a very misleading study was conducted from which people concluded that soy acts as estrogen in the human body and can, therefore, cause certain cancers. However, there were a number of problems with this study that poke huge holes in those conclusions. 1. the study was conducted on mice which are not biologically similar enough to humans to make that extrapolation, and 2. the amount of soy those mice were given in the study far exceeds what any person would ever consume (here is a fantastic resource if you’d like to learn more about this). It also failed to account for the quality of the soy consumed. It’s also very important to note that, while soy lecithin is found in many, many foods, it is present in very, very small quantities.

Soy lecithin is typically added to food as an emulsifier or lubricant but it can also be used as an antioxidant and flavor protector. It actually has some health benefits, believe it or not. For one, it may lower cholesterol levels and, for another, it contains choline, which prevents organ disfunction, fatty liver, and muscle damage.

Bottom line on soy lecithin: unless you have a severe soy allergy or the soy is GMO, you need not worry about it.

Xanthan gum is the other additive people often worry about and it’s also found in almost everything that comes in a package. It is typically added to foods as a stabilizer and is found in very small quantities.  Although considered safe for consumption, it can cause gas and bloating in those who are sensitive to it. For this reason, those who eat a diet consisting of mostly prepackaged foods may notice a significant improvement in how they feel once they cut back on those foods.

Thus, while no additives is the best option, these two found in the Kashi waffles would not cause me to tell you to avoid them. (Here is a great resource on food additives if you’d like to learn more about what to avoid)

Flavor and Texture

Admittedly, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had an Eggo waffle (I think I was watching Lamb Chop’s Play Along if that’s any indication of how long it’s been) but I don’t think these would be a noticeable change for your kids if they’re used to eating Eggos. They have the texture you would expect of a frozen waffle and a nice, very slightly sweet flavor. They’re not heavy or gritty like some would worry a whole grain waffle would be.

What’s Your Topping?

No amount of whole grain is going to matter if you are drowning your waffles in sugary pancake syrup. The typical store-bought pancake syrup consists almost entirely of unhealthy, even dangerous, ingredients: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sodium benzoate, and artificial flavors to name a few.

Better options for waffle toppers include: real maple syrup, honey, fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, natural sugar-free peanut butter, and avocado.

With a healthful topping, these multigrain waffles are a solid start to your day.

waffles