Breakfast – it’s the most necessary meal of the day.
A well-balanced and nutritionally complete first thing meal “increases productivity, concentration, alertness and provides key nutrients like protein, fibre, iron, vitamin C and calcium,” according to consultant dietician Lucy Jones.
Basically, think twice before you snooze and skip it. “Try to make sure you hit every food group, including slow-release carbohydrates like oats, protein like low-fat dairy, eggs or nuts and fruits and vegetables,” Jones adds.
Read on for our breakdown of 11 no-fuss ingredients that pack a maximum breakfast impact. These’ll get you going – yes, even on a Monday.
These are rich in B-vitamins and full of slow release energy to keep you fuller for longer. “Oats are a unique source of soluble fibre, which is really important for gut health,” explains registered dietician Aisling Pigott.
“Try including in flapjacks, breakfast muffins, or mixing with milk and fruit the night before, served cold for a modern variation on traditional porridge.”
A great source of protein, yoghurts provide a long-lasting feeling of fullness, keeping us satisfied for longer and more likely to resist those office snacks.
“There are lots of great yoghurts available, such as high protein options which are often thicker due to their protein content,” Pigott explains. “These can be useful for very active people to balance and spread their dietary intake throughout the day.”
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A sprinkle of nuts will not only add a textural crunch but also provide an instant boost to your body. From calcium-rich almonds, full of vitamin E and heart-helping flavonoids, to classic cashews which bring magnesium, iron and zinc to the party, it’s time to get involved.
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are so popular due to their tangy and sweet nature.
Pigott recommends only shopping locally and eating seasonally with berries. “When in season, the antioxidants are higher and they aren’t imported, resulting in benefits for both your health and your wallet,” she says.
Now that we’re heading into winter, go for frozen packs of British berries to keep it eco. Add to your porridge as it’s cooking and they’ll defrost a treat.
“Bread is so often demonised when it comes to health, but, actually, it’s a fabulous source of carbohydrate, fibre and B vitamins.” Pigott says, “Always choose wholegrain options and be aware of your portion size.”
Jones also supports a doughy addition to your breakfast plate. “Fuelling up in the morning for me means finding quick and filling protein options, like almond butter on seeded toast. This option is full of 15 essential nutrients including protein, heart healthy fats and a variety of key minerals.”
Cheap and versatile, the egg is the saviour of the AM. Rich in protein with only small amounts of fat, Pigott recommends: “a poached egg on wholegrain toast with grilled tomatoes – a healthy alternative to a fried breakfast.”
Rich in vitamin C, the humble potato is also a good source of carbohydrate and fibre. Pigott suggests using “leftover [roast or boiled] potatoes to make a potato omelette, or try mixing with chopped tomatoes and egg for a tasty morning hash.”
Apples and bananas
“I describe these as nature’s answer to busy days,” Piggot says. “They can be eaten as a quick snack alongside a slice of toast, combined with milk for a smoothie or you could chop and serve with yoghurt and oats.” Both fruits are rich in vitamin C, vital for immune function, healthy skin and hair, as well as potassium, an important electrolyte.
“Bananas are an energy dense fruit, packed full of carbohydrate for busy people,” Pigott explains. “Greener bananas offer a slower, more sustained energy release than ripe options.”
Cereal has a bad reputation. But Piggot says: “cereal can be a really useful source of fibre and is often fortified with B vitamins, iron and vitamin D.” To stay clear of sugar traps, “choose cereals without added sugar, and, as with all foods, keep an eye on your portion size.”
Baked beans are an easy and good-for-you option. As Pigott explains: “choosing low-salt and low-sugar versions and mixing with chopped mushrooms or tomatoes can make for a balanced breakfast.”
“Seeds like chia seeds or linseeds can be really useful for adding to cereals, porridge or smoothies,” Pigott says. “They are high in fibre and omega 3 which is optimal for heart health.” So be it hemp or pumpkin, sprinkle a handful into your breakfast and give your body an extra boost.