A healthy breakfast is the way to start to every healthy day.
You wouldn’t drive your car with an empty gas tank. Don’t move your body that way either. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” about a million times. You know why? Because it’s a true axiom of how to eat healthy.
It’s pretty much only Sundays that I get to really lounge and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. The rest of the week it has to be a quick and healthy breakfast. That means something that will be fulfilling so that I’m not hungry again too early in my working day.
Yogurt, my “go to” breakfast choice.
Most of us have a “go to” breakfast. It’s not a meal we want to spend a whole lot of time on; not planning, not preparing and not eating. Well, except for Sunday omelets. For me, a bowl of yogurt with raw almonds and blueberries is my breakfast of choice. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s delicious and it’s nutritious. For the start of a big day of training clients, this healthy breakfast covers all the bases nutritionally: (nutritional information courtesy of Calorie King)
|1 cup yogurt||handful almonds|
You’ll also get about 30% of your daily requirement for calcium in a whole and natural way. These nutritional numbers are using whole milk yogurt, as that is what I prefer. You will actually get a higher percentage of calcium (45%) and a less saturated fat (2g) with low-fat milk, but for me it’s a matter of taste.
While you can go out and buy yogurt, I prefer to make my own. It’s actually really easy and makes a healthy breakfast about half the cost.
How to make your own yogurt
What you’ll need: 1 gallon of milk, ½ cup yogurt (as a starter), a large pot, a food thermometer, a large sealable container, a closet and a blanket.
Heat the milk up to 180 degrees, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches 180 degrees, immediately remove from heat before it boils over. Allow the milk to cool down to about 120 degrees, which will take about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent a “skin” from forming. As soon as you start cooling the milk, take the 4 ounces of yogurt and allow it to warm up by taking it out of the fridge. This helps it meld better when you mix it in with the warm milk. Once the milk is at about 120 degrees, stir a few tablespoons of the warm milk into the yogurt. Then mix the yogurt/milk mixture back into the rest of the milk. I like to use a whisk to really mix it up. Pour this into a container and seal it. Take the container, wrap it in a warm blanket and put it in a closet for 12 hours. After 12 hours, put the yogurt into the fridge and as soon as it is cooled, you have yourself more than a weeks worth of health breakfast. Be careful not to let it sit much more than 12 hours in the closet as it can get too tart.
The “trainer breakfast”: hard boiled eggs.
Another super easy and nutritious breakfast is hard boiled eggs. Ask any personal trainer and I’m willing to bet the majority of them have hard boiled eggs regularly as their choice of a healthy breakfast. I tend to restrict my egg intake to about 6 a week, two hard boiled eggs for breakfast once a week, a fried egg and cheese sandwich for lunch once, then a 3 egg omelet on Sunday. While dietary cholesterol isn’t directly tied into blood serum cholesterol, just two hard boiled eggs contain over 140% of the recommended daily intake of cholesterol and there’s no reason to push it. besides, frankly speaking, too many hard boiled eggs can create, well, “gassy” issues. Just sayin’.
To complete a healthy breakfast, I’ll always have a piece of fruit with my hard boiled eggs, usually a banana.
I used to completely kill my eggs when I boiled them, keeping them at a boil for 10 minutes. I recently learned how to properly prepare a hard boiled egg and the flavor is much better. Put the eggs in the cold water and heat it up to a boil. As soon as you see bubbles, turn the heat off and tightly cover the pot. Let the eggs sit in the water for 10 minutes, then drain. You’ll enjoy your eggs much more.
Another popular breakfast for health minded people: smoothies.
Many of my trainer friends and my clients are really big on starting their day with smoothies. It can be a great choice. Most smoothies will be made with a base of yogurt or protein powder, loaded up with fruit and also gives you the option of adding different supplements to your healthy breakfast.
I don’t often do the smoothie thing. But head on over to Pinterest and where I’ve collected some recipes that look quite tasty.
Coffee. My beloved black medicine.
When talking about a healthy breakfast, you might expect that this is where I caution against drinking coffee. WRONG! I love coffee. I’m a fan of it and I’m a bit of a coffee snob actually. But on top of my own personal bias, there is a strong body of evidence showing that drinking coffee actually has much more health benefits than risks.
While scientific research has not clearly demonstrated a direct causal relationship between coffee consumption and these health benefits, the indirect relationships are pretty strong. Coffee consumption has been shown to lower the risk of Type II diabtetes by up to 35% over those who don’t drink coffee. Part of that can be explained by the fact that coffee has a high concentration of antioxiddants. In fact, factoring in volumes consumed, coffee is actually the number one source of antioxidants for American consumers buy a wide margin. (but don’t think that means you don’t have to eat fresh fruits and vegetables!) Coffee also contains the minerals magnesium and chromium, which help the body use insulin.
One thing I found surprising is that coffee drinkers have a 20% lower chance of being hospitalized for irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Yeah, kinda counter intuitive, huh?[important]Drinking 3 cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s by 65%![/important]
And the research on Parkinson’s disease and impediment, including Alzheimer’s, has solidly shown a strong correlation between coffee consumption and a lower risk of these neurological disorders. There is also a strong solid correlation between coffee drinking and a lowered risk of liver cancer.
From what I understand, the fresher the coffee, the higher the concentration of antioxidants. I recommend buying whole bean coffee and grinding it fresh every morning. As a coffee snob, someone who likes doing things DIY and someone who likes having the possibility of retaining as much of my lifestyle off the grid as on, I hand grind my coffee every morning. If you’re going to purchase a grinder for home, I recommend a burr grinder. The grind will be more consistent, making your coffee flavor more consistent. As for how to brew, since I live alone I use a filter cone and make one cup at a time. If you go to a boutique coffee shop, you’ll find that this is the preferred method for drip coffee.
What’s your “go to” breakfast?
And don’t say you skip breakfast!
Milk image courtesy Goodfoodforhealth