Breakfast: 5 Healthy Options to Start Your Day
Breakfast has become my absolutely favourite meal of the day, but it's taken me awhile to get here. These days, I go to bed with a plan for the next morning - exactly what I want to make, usually to take along with me to enjoy while at work. Before bed, I sometimes spend a few minutes on preparation - setting almonds to soak for almond milk, stirring chia seeds into coconut milk, making sure there are bananas freezing so I can blitz them into a creamy dreamy ice cream the next day...
My path to breakfast happiness had a lot to do with finding the right time for me to eat - I honestly think that this varies by person. There are those that awaken ravenous, others who like to eat before heading out the door, and others who aren't hungry until a bit later in the morning. I belong in that last group; breakfast for me is best enjoyed around 10am, when I become hungry for it - this sometimes varies, and I adjust when it does. I felt encouraged the first time I read The Beauty Detox, especially when I read that you shouldn't eat if you aren't hungry (something I used to feel pressure to do anyways, because it was technically "breakfast time"). Waiting until my body tells me it's ready for food has been helpful, as I used to feel stomach discomfort if I ate when I wasn't actually hungry.
After figuring out when to eat, I had to find the right foods to enjoy at this meal. I prefer something filling but light, especially during the warm weather months.
I've complied a handful of my top breakfast recipes, all easy with just a bit of preparation, and all very healthy to set you off on the right track each morning. You can prepare many of them the evening before, or in the morning to bring with you to work. When you start the day with healthy choices, it's much easier to keep with it throughout the day but even if you sway from healthy options as the day goes on, you can feel good knowing that a few servings of fruit or vegetables, plus a ton of nutrition, has passed your lips first.
No. 1: Fruity Cereal
I call this "cereal" but really, it's a combination of chopped fruits, nuts, whatever superfood additions you like, and some creamy plant milk. You'll be surprised by how tasty this bowl of goodness is!
Fruity Cereal (gluten free, vegan, raw)
1 banana, sliced into coins
1/4 c raspberries
1/4 c other berries (optional: blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries are all good choices!)
1 tsp bee pollen
1 tbsp coconut flakes
1 tbsp gogi berries, soaked briefly in warm water to soften
1/2 c almond milk (recipe follows - you could use any milk of your choice)
1/2 tsp raw honey, optional
Add the banana slices, berries, almonds and coconut flakes to a bowl. If your almond milk isn't sweetened and you would like to add honey, whisk honey into almond milk first. Pour almond milk over fruit, and top with bee pollen and gogi berries. Eat straight away, or place in the fridge until you are ready for it (I love how the milk turns the lightest shade of pink from the raspberries when it sits for a few hours).
Homemade Cardamom-Spiced Almond Milk (raw, vegan, gluten free)
I make my almond milk in small quantities, so that I'm sure to use it up within a few days.
Makes 2 cups
1/2 c raw almonds
2 c filtered water
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (omit if you prefer plain almond milk)
1/2 - 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup, to sweeten
Soak almonds in fresh cool water overnight (or a minimum of 8 hours). Rinse well. Place almonds in blender with 2 cups of fresh filtered water, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (and sweetener of choice if using). Blend on high speed, until almonds are completely broken down. Pour the almond milk into a nut milk bag or a few layers of cheesecloth placed over a large bowl. Gently squeeze the press the milk through the nut milk bag or cheesecloth, separating the pulp from the milk, which collects in the bowl - this process takes about 5 minutes. Continue to squeeze until your pulp is rather dry. Carefully pour the almond milk into a sealable jar. It will keep for 3-4 days, kept in the fridge. You can keep the pulp (it stores well in the freezer), and use it to make crackers if you like!
No. 2: Chia Pudding & Banana Ice Cream Parfait
The combination of creamy chia pudding with sweet banana ice cream belongs among the heavens. It's perfect.
I prefer to use light coconut milk when making chia pudding, because the creaminess it imparts is irresistible. Almond milk, soy milk, or even oat milk would all work too. A splash of vanilla elevates this to dessert-level flavour (but I promise you, it's totally healthy and worthy of your breakfast table). I don't sweeten mine, as I find the banana ice cream sweet enough and I always make sure to get a little of each in every bite. I include the option to sweeten your chia pudding in the recipe below - it's up to you.
Banana ice cream is one of those brilliant discoveries that somebody, somewhere stumbled upon and the popularity of this simple, one ingredient healthy ice cream has literally exploded on social media sites (such as Instagram). It's even been featured on The Kitchn!
Coconut Milk Chia Pudding (gluten free, vegan)
Serves 2 (I like to divide this into 2 jars, so that breakfast for 2 days is settled), chia pudding keeps well in the fridge for 3 days. This is the perfect make-ahead breakfast as it's best when left overnight in the fridge.
1 can light coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchens)
4 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
2 tsp raw honey or maple syrup (optional)
Stir chia seeds into coconut milk, and add vanilla. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then stir again. Place in the fridge overnight (or for a minimum of 2 hours). Before serving, stir again.
Banana Ice Cream (gluten free, vegan, raw)
Serves 1, increase the recipe as needed. You can serve banana ice cream plain (using only bananas), or you can add other frozen fruit or your favourite superfood powders. I keep a large freezer bag of peeled and chopped bananas in my freezer at all times!
2 bananas, chopped and frozen
1/4 c frozen raspberries or other frozen berry
1/2 - 1 tsp of your favourite superfood powder (I like beet powder, matcha, maca, moringa, and lacuma), which will give your ice cream a colourful hue!
In a blender or food processor, pulse and then increase speed to high to blend the bananas. This is a good tutorial, if banana ice cream is new to you. It will transform from what will look like small chopped pieces of banana into a creamy, lighter shade the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You can place banana ice cream in the freezer to harden, or eat immediately.
To make Chia Pudding & Banana Ice Cream Parfaits, divide the prepared chia pudding into 2 jars (that recipe serves 2). Add the banana ice cream to the jar. You can top the banana ice cream with fresh blueberries, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, or serve it without accompaniments.
Eat immediately, or keep in either the fridge or freezer (in the fridge, your banana ice cream will melt into a fruit puree).
No. 3: Avocado Toast
It's amazing how something so simple can be so satisfying. I would even say that avocado toast could easily serve as breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner. There are endless ways to serve it - plain, with just a sprinkle of sea salt or as elaborate as your imagination allows.
I offer you some suggestions below, as well as a little story I did using Steller (easily my favourite app right now) with some fun options, which you can find here.
Avocado toast is filling, healthy, and an excellent option for anyone looking for something heavier than the fruit-based breakfasts I've outlined in this post.
Avocado Toast (gluten free, vegan)
1/2 an avocado
a few slices of tomato
a few thin slices of radish
pea shoots or microgreens
Toast your bread. Slice the avocado and top your toast with the avocado slices - you can mash them a bit if you like. Top with tomato slices, radish, and microgreens. Sprinkle with sea salt and chili flakes, and serve!
No. 4: Big Green Smoothie
I like to have a big smoothie for breakfast at least a few times each week. It's the perfect way to get in a few servings of green vegetables for breakfast, keeps me satisfied until lunch, and is easy on my digestive system.
Green smoothies can be made with varying ratios of greens to fruit. This is a starting point for a smoothie that I love, you can play around and substitute a more subtle leafy green (such as spinach) for the kale if you like.
Big Green Smoothie (gluten free, vegan, raw)
Serves 1 hungry person (makes 3-4 c)
1 c pineapple chunks (optional to freeze pineapple if your blender can manage it)
1/4 of a cucumber, chopped
2 c kale (or other leafy green of choice)
2 frozen and chopped bananas
1 c coconut water
1/2 c fresh mint leaves
juice of half a lime
1" piece of ginger (optional)
1/2 tsp moringa powder (optional)
2" piece of aloe vera, peeled (optional)
Add all ingredients to your blender. Begin blending on low speed and gradually increase to high. If your blend has a tamper (i.e., a Vitamix), you can use it to help push the ingredients towards the blades. If not and you notice your blender having trouble incorporating all the ingredients, stop and scrap down the sides with a spatula, and then continue blending until completely smooth.
No. 5: Acai Smoothie Bowl
Smoothie bowls are a colourful and pretty way to get a fruit-filled breakfast. You can make this breakfast option with a thick green smoothie too (try the one above, but cut the amounts of each ingredient in half and only use 1/4 c coconut water, so that your smoothie remains very thick). When making smoothie bowls, the key is to keep the smoothie consistency thick so that the toppings don't sink and you can eat it with a spoon.
Use whatever toppings you like! I try to use seasonal fruits for topping mine, but year-around I keep raspberries in my freezer and gogi berries in my pantry - these are breakfast staples in my house, and excellent on a smoothie bowl!
Acai Smoothie Bowl (gluten free, vegan, raw)
1/4 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 c frozen raspberries
2 frozen bananas, peeled and chopped
3 1/2 tsp acai powder
1/2 tsp beet powder (optional)
1/2 c spinach (optional)
For topping (choose whichever you prefer and have available):
sliced bananas, sliced peaches, halved grapes, gogi berries (soaked briefly to soften), bee pollen, chia seeds, almonds, halved figs, raspberries, blackberries, coconut flakes, etc.
Blend smoothie ingredients on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until completely smooth. Pour into a serving bowl, and top with whichever toppings you prefer and have available. Enjoy!