Breakfast. Do you bother or are you busy soaking in an ice cold bath?
Seriously, some weight loss plans advise you to skip breakfast. The ‘6 weeks to OMG’ diet suggests going further- take a cold water bath and drink a black coffee instead.
However instead of trying ways to boost that elusive metabolism, longer term success is all about net energy balance. What you take in versus what you burn.
Overwhelming amounts of research show that if you do eat breakfast you’ll tend to eat less throughout the day. I totally get that some people (especially if you are doing the 5:2 for example) find breakfast just opens up the floodgates of hunger hell. I would still advocate that a light and low GI carb breakfast with a portion of protein will keep you feeling smugly full through till lunchtime.
Cut the toast and jam or sugary cereal though. Here are some seriously delicious healthy breakfast ideas to start your day.
When we lived in London, Pierre and I loved the muesli and granola bar at Whole Foods in Kensington. You could pick and mix grains, seeds, dried fruit and nuts. We’ve continued this habit using supermarket and health food store supplies.
So when making your own granola think about the components.
Sweetness: Many packet granola mixes are calorie bombs. Sugar syrups and fat hold those clusters of nuts and oat together, but you can use fruit purées to minimise the oil and syrup. And who hates raisins in cereal? Me! So I use chopped dried figs, apples, pears, mango.
Seeds and nuts : these are good. Yes they are fatty but the good kind. Essential fatty acids to boost your omega 3 intake. We throw in some sunflower and chia seeds along with walnuts. Pick whatever you have going in your pantry. Bear in mind the calorie load means moderation in granola consumption is the key…
Crunch: grains such as porridge oats, rye and even puffed rice. I’ve seen popcorn in a Waitrose box of granola. You could also use quinoa – which being a seed not a grain makes for a perfectly paleo option if you are that way inclined.
We use 3 cups grains, 1 cup nuts, seeds and dried fruit, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or rapeseed oil and 2 tablespoons of maple, date or agave syrup or honey. If you want you can also use fruit compote or juice as a sugar source. Of each component, you may want a little more or less. Extras like cocoa powder, orange or lemon zest and coconut flakes are also worth experimenting with.
For our winter fruit granola we used apple compote and maple syrup and dried apple and pear for sweetness, sunflower and chia seeds, almonds and oats, rye flakes and spelt flakes as a grain base.
When prepping granola- stick all the ingredients into a large bowl. Stir the oil and sweet syrup/fruit juice or compote into the mixture to coat everything. Tip it into a large parchment lined baking tray, spread it out evenly and bake it in a preheated oven (180DegC, 350DegF) for 30 mins.
You can make raw granola though. By reducing the temperature, you maintain some of the vitality in the seeds and nuts of your granola – you have to keep the temperature no higher than 44 Deg C. It means you’ll need a dehydrator to help move things along from a sloppy mix to dry and crunchy. It takes a couple of hours but has good results.
Moving on – smoothies are a great way to up your fruit and vegetable intake and we added some granola in this version for a bit of variety. Our fellow blogger Monica Shaw has a host of tips on smoothies but the easiest thing to remember is you want to stop this being a sugar fest. So try to have at least 2 vegetables and only 1 or 2 fruits, a little nuts and some oat (or psyllium husk). We just use water as the liquid base.
To make it green, kale, spinach or cabbage are good. A little slice of lemon or lime is great to lift any bitterness in the greens.
In the smoothie below we used banana, peanut butter, chia seed and strawberry – so not as sugar free as smoothie purists would like but it is a great one for newbies. We’ve talked about it before but our Optimum 9400 blender is the absolute business when it comes to a power blender. We LOVE it (this is an affiliate link but views are our own)
For a healthy weekend brunch idea why not use some of your granola to top some seasonal fruit and bake it. Rather like a crumble dessert but with a whole lot less fat and sugar. Serve with some greek yoghurt for a dose of protein as well as a complement to the hot sweet sticky baked fruit.
And Jeanne at Cooksister serves up roasted figs with yoghurt alone – check out her honey roasted figs recipe here.
If you are up for baking, Pain d’epices is a French version of gingerbread, but with rye flour and a lot less sweetness it is not as overwhelmingly sweet. We serve ours with some slices of orange confit – check out our recipe here.
Another idea – super quick but still a good balance of complex carbs with fruit and some protein is toasted rye bread with some nut butter and seasonal fruit – here banana and figs.
Chia seeds are an interesting phenomenon. When they contact water they soften and swell, creating a jelly like texture. This is great with fruit (instant fruit jam, not a preserve mind, but a fruit spread) and it can also sub for eggs in baking, acting as a binding agent.
Chia also makes a good option for an alternative to porridge – soak the seeds overnight in some coconut milk (or almond milk), and serve with fruit and other fixings of your choice. It is high in protein as well as lots of omega 3 fatty acids. Here we added vanilla extract to the milk and topped with cacao nibs and blueberries.
Avocado toast seems to be having it’s moment in the sun right now, every food site coming up with variations to sex up this simple staple. Some chilli, salt and lime are a great way to do it, but if you fancy a special brunch, how about adding some soft boiled egg and thinly sliced truffle?
We also like Laura’s avocado tartine with smoked salmon and dill.
Make your own soda bread, it is quick and easy, and perfect when eaten warm. Jude has some great results and here is her classic recipe.
So hopefully you’ve got some good breakfast inspiration here.
Don’t forget to keep up to speed with all the jumpstart 2015 recipes from food bloggers trying to keep on the healthy track
Do you eat breakfast or skip it? If you are reading food blogs I am guessing you are more likely to be on the breakfast eating side but who knows?!