Ideas for a Healthy and Creative Breakfast

The most important meal of the day is also often the most neglected. We’ve gathered facts and recipes to help you start your mornings right.

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Last updated: Nov 11th, 2022

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Is breakfast still important?
What does a healthy breakfast look like?
High-protein breakfast recipes
Fiber-filled breakfast recipes
Light breakfast recipes
Conclusion
Sources
Ideas for healthy and creative breakfast

A nutritious and balanced breakfast can be difficult to incorporate into an everyday routine. 25% of all Americans tend to skip the morning meal, and many say that it’s due to not having enough time to eat it in the first place.¹ Instead, you might grab the nearest sugary granola bar on your way out the door or stop at a coffee shop for an even sweeter latte. Parents might find themselves gnawing on their toddler’s leftover waffle and pieces of fruit. If you’re trying to lose weight, breakfast might not seem appealing to begin with. The fear of overeating, eating the wrong thing, or perhaps not knowing what to eat might lead you to skip the meal entirely, causing you to overeat later in the day when hunger becomes too strong to ignore.

With lifestyle trends like intermittent fasting that shy away from regular meals throughout the day growing more popular, breakfast’s relevancy is under fire. However, most nutritionists, dieticians, and food experts agree that breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. To help you figure out how to re-center this meal in your day, we’ll show you the health benefits of breakfast, what a good breakfast looks like, and healthy recipe ideas with different focuses so you can find options no matter your dietary needs.

Is breakfast still important?

Decades of research link having a healthy breakfast to better health outcomes. Even if you’re not hungry, experts still recommend having something light instead of skipping, delaying, or grazing. Establishing a pattern of regular and healthy meals contributes to healthy metabolic processes, allowing us to have a steady flow of energy throughout the day. Eating first thing in the morning can also increase satiety, meaning you’ll be less hungry (and less likely to snack or graze) later.²

Health benefits of breakfast

Regularly eating breakfast can lower your average blood sugar (HbA1c), stabilize your daily glucose levels, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. In the short term, eating breakfast is associated with more mental clarity, improved memory, and attention because you have the energy necessary to focus well.³ Despite sounding like a paradox, eating a healthy breakfast is also important for satiety and reduced snacking, which can lead to healthy weight loss. One study found that eating breakfasts high in protein, such as a breakfast with eggs, led to reduced evening and night-time snacking, particularly high-fat snacks like chips.⁴

Not eating breakfast consistently can keep you from being in the best shape possible. Those who skip breakfast 4-5 days out of the week have a 55% increased risk of developing metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.¹ Sporadic or irregular breakfast consumption is also related to an increased risk of stroke and cerebral hemorrhage.³ A study from 2021 even found that skipping breakfast once a week significantly decreased any health benefits you’d get from regular morning meals.²

What does a healthy breakfast look like?

If possible, try to eat within two hours of waking up. Your body has spent a prolonged amount of time at rest and needs the energy boost to get things going and keep them running throughout the day. Your body is the most sensitive to insulin in the morning, meaning it metabolizes blood sugar much more effectively than at any other time. Take advantage of this by eating a breakfast high in protein, fiber, or both. A high-protein breakfast can lead to weight loss, improved blood sugar, increased satiety, and lower blood pressure,⁴ and a high-fiber breakfast is beneficial for a healthy gut microbiome and can lower cholesterol.¹

Though they are fast, tasty, and convenient, breakfast foods such as sugary cereals, toaster pastries, and even coffee can impact our health negatively, leading to problems like insulin resistance and poor cardiovascular health. With some creativity, breakfast can be delicious and nutritious, regardless of your dietary preferences.

High-protein breakfast recipes

Protein works exceptionally well in breakfasts because it helps stabilize blood sugar levels and is slow to digest, giving you a steady stream of energy throughout the day. Unlike refined carbohydrates such as cereal and white bread, protein won’t spike your blood sugar, saving you from the otherwise inevitable mid-day crash. Because protein is filling, it helps with weight loss and management, reduces snack cravings, and maintains muscle mass.⁵

If you’re vegan or want to limit your animal-based proteins, there still are plenty of options available: try using tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, and even plant-based sausage in place of animal protein. Or, you can use a vegan protein powder (such as pea protein) alongside a smaller meal. Read on for some ideas for high-protein breakfasts.

Sunrise Sandwich

This delicious recipe from Eat This, Not That is a powerhouse of protein and nutrients. With 19 grams of protein, this is an easy, tasty way to fuel your body in the morning and keep it going throughout the day.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 slice of tomato, about 1 inch thick
  • 2 oz smoked turkey breast
  • 1 slice cheese of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 split English muffin, toasted
  • 1 tbsp guacamole (or hummus for more protein)

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan.
  2. Fry the egg until the whites are firm but the yolk is still runny, up to 5 minutes.
  3. Season the egg to your liking.
  4. Put the turkey on a plate and top with your favorite cheese. Microwave until the cheese is melty and the turkey is warmed through, about 45 seconds.
  5. Assemble your sandwich by first putting the tomato slice on the bottom half of the muffin. Sprinkle the tomato slice with salt or your favorite seasonings for added flavor. Then place your turkey and cheese on top of the tomato. Lastly, place your egg on top of the turkey and cheese. Spread the guacamole or hummus on the top half of the muffin and place it on top of the egg.

Not in the mood for this sandwich? Here are some other healthy high-protein breakfast recipes to try:

Fiber-filled breakfast recipes

Breakfasts high in fiber have been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, improve digestion, promote gut health, and even lower the risk of colon cancer. A 2021 study even found that people who eat breakfast and at least 25g of fiber daily are 21% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than their non-fibrous or breakfast-skipping peers.⁷ A high-fiber breakfast might include foods such as:

  • Whole-grain bagels
  • Bread
  • Non-sugary cereals
  • Oatmeal
  • Fruit
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans

No matter where you get your fiber, though, it’s important to eat some throughout your day. Below, you’ll find a few recipes to give you some high-fiber breakfast ideas.

Apple Flax Muffins

These apple flax seed muffins from Budget Bytes only take 30 minutes from prep to table, are low in calories, high in fiber, and delicious to boot. With additions of fiber-filled whole grain flour and apples, omega-3-rich flax seeds, and antioxidant-rich cinnamon, the recipe provides healthy ingredients that cover many dietary gaps. We suggest making these over the weekend to have breakfast ready to go for the rest of the week.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup flaxseed, ground
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, or to your taste
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 medium apples
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • ½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Whisk together flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, applesauce, yogurt, and vanilla.
  4. Core and chop the apples into small pieces.
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Stir in the apples just until they’re mixed in, overmixing can cause your muffins to be tough.
  7. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray or line with muffin cups. Scoop the batter into the muffin tin as evenly as possible to make 12 muffins.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin should come out clean.
  9. Let cool and enjoy!

If muffins aren’t your thing, consider these other high-fiber breakfasts that will keep you full and coming back for more.

Light breakfast recipes

Even if you’re not particularly hungry in the mornings, your body still needs fuel to keep up with your to-do list. Consider still having a light breakfast to fuel your body, especially if you’re prone to drinking coffee before having your first meal. A study from the University of Bath found that even just one cup of strong black coffee consumed on an empty stomach can impair insulin response and lead to insulin resistance if done regularly.⁸

Despite how uncomfortable it may feel at first, eating a light breakfast alongside your cup of coffee (or before it) will help your long-term health. The healthy recipes below pair well with your coffee and won’t leave you feeling sluggish, providing the energy and nutrition necessary to start your day off right.

Hashbrown Omelet Breakfast Bites

Whether you’re pressed for time or want something easy and small to eat, these breakfast bites from The Spruce Eats contain impressively heart-healthy potatoes, eggs, cheese, and calorie-low but nutrient-rich spinach. They take a bit of time to make, but if you plan and make them over the weekend, you can freeze these bites so that you have breakfast on hand throughout the week.

Ingredients

  • 24-36 tater tots or 1 pound frozen hash browns, thawed
  • ½ cup milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Seasonings, to taste
  • ½ cup chopped spinach, fresh or frozen, and drained of excess moisture (you can also saute the spinach and then drain)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or your preference of cheese
  • Cooking spray

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Liberally grease a 12-muffin tin with cooking spray.
  3. Press 2 or 3 tater tots, or divide hash browns evenly into each muffin mold, ensuring that the bottom is completely covered.
  4. Whisk the eggs, milk, and seasonings together in a small bowl, and then pour equal amounts into each muffin mold, ensuring that the potatoes are completely submerged.
  5. Top each muffin mold with the cheese and the thawed or drained spinach.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven.
  7. Let cool, then run a knife around the edges of each omelet bite to separate them from the tin.
  8. Serve hot with your choice of toppings, such as sour cream, hot sauce, or herbs.

If cheesy eggs and potatoes are outside of your dietary habits, there are plenty of other light breakfast options that can still give you a well-rounded start to your day.

Conclusion

It’s hard to underestimate the benefits of regularly eating a healthy breakfast. From improving metabolic health to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, eating a nutritious breakfast does a lot to keep your body running well. Remember to avoid or, at the very least, limit sugary cereals and processed meats and pair your morning coffee with a meal with protein and fiber, no matter how light. Investing in your metabolic and cardiovascular health can be as easy as simply eating a nutritious breakfast, and you’ll feel the benefits almost immediately.

Sources

[1] Is Breakfast Important? (2022, June 29). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-you-really-need-to-eat-breakfast/

[2] Li, Z. H., Xu, L., Dai, R., Li, L. J., & Wang, H. J. (2021). Effects of regular breakfast habits on metabolic and cardiovascular diseases: A protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine, 100(44), e27629. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000027629

[3] Gibney, M., Barr, S., Bellisle, F., Drewnowski, A., Fagt, S., Livingstone, B., Masset, G., Varela Moreiras, G., Moreno, L., Smith, J., Vieux, F., Thielecke, F., & Hopkins, S. (2018). Breakfast in Human Nutrition: The International Breakfast Research Initiative. Nutrients, 10(5), 559. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10050559

[4] Leidy, H. J., Ortinau, L. C., Douglas, S. M., & Hoertel, H. A. (2013). Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(4), 677–688. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.053116

[5] 5 Health Benefits of a High-Protein Breakfast, According to a Nutrition Coach. (2022, May 6). Clean Eating. https://www.cleaneatingmag.com/clean-diet/5-health-benefits-of-a-high-protein-breakfast/

[6] International Food Information Council Foundation. (2012). Wake up to the benefits of breakfast. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns-hopkins-childrens-center/what-we-treat/specialties/nephrology/programs-centers/obesity-hypertension-clinic/_documents/eating-right-wake-up-benefits-breakfast2.pdf

[7] King, D. E., & Xiang, J. (2021, July). A relationship between mortality and eating breakfast and fiber. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 34(4), 678-687. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2021.04.210044

[8] Drink coffee after breakfast, not before, for better metabolic control. (n.d.). ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201002091053.htm