Breakfast is a very different meal to different people. Some are ravenous when waking craving a big bowl of cornflakes and coffee to face the day. And others skip all together. Something in the middle is likely to be the best option for most of us. Whilst ‘intermittent fasting’ by giving the digestive system a break for 12- 16 hours overnight can have many health benefits, making sure we are getting the right fuel in us with a balanced breakfast will keep us physically and mentally energised for the day ahead.
What do we mean by balance?
Nutritionally balanced eating throughout the day allows the body to get all the protein, carbs, fibre, fats, vitamins and minerals we need to function at our best. At every meal, including breakfast, add vegetables, some fruits, nuts, wholegrain complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and quality protein to your plate.
Balance your blood sugar by being mindful of carbohydrate intake in the morning. Carbs are essential for the energy needed by all cells to perform their function. But when we eat a carb heavy meal, especially refined processed carbs like white bread and sugary cereals, our blood sugar will spike quickly followed by a subsequent release of insulin to metabolise the sugar. Too much insulin and we may have a blood sugar crash and craving for sugary foods. This can start a rollercoaster of blood sugar spike and crash throughout the day. Over time higher levels of insulin production may damage cells in the body and left unchecked can lead to diabetes.
Reducing the amount of carbs, choosing whole-grains and fibrous foods and eating healthy fats and protein alongside carbs will slow down digestion and keep blood sugar more balanced. You will also feel fuller for longer and avoid mid morning biscuit cravings. For example, favour wholegrain toast with eggs or nut butter over white bread and jam, or oat porridge with full fat yoghurt, nuts and seeds over sugary muesli.
Be mindful of hydration and caffeine intake throughout the day. Pausing before eating and having a few cups of warm water with lemon or ginger is a good way to flush out toxins from your nightly sleep detox. It will also warm up your digestive system and help ‘keep you regular’. Ayurveda philosophy for healthy living places importance on a daily routine and suggests waking around 6am and as your digestive fire, agni, is at its strongest between 10am- 2pm, eat a light breakfast, or even waiting until 10am to eat something more substantial. Caffeine is likely to impact your sleep cycle and stress levels if you drink too much. A small cup of freshly ground coffee or tea (in particular matcha green tea) is full of antioxidants so can be beneficial if it doesn’t give you the jitters. Listen to your own body!
And finally on balance, healthy eating will of course keep our bodies and minds functioning at their best, but life would be boring without the odd pain au chocolate thrown in. If you can go with the 80/ 20 approach, eating healthily 80% of the time with room to celebrate delicious food 20% of the time, you are doing just fine.
Scandi smoked salmon open sandwich
A classic Scandi inspired breakfast or brunch that brings together complex carbohydrates in the rye or wholegrain bread, omega-3 packed fish, fat and protein from the ricotta, protein and essential fats from the seeds and nutrients from the vegetables. Dress your sandwich any way you like, but keep in clean and fresh. Look for responsibly sourced salmon or alternative smoked fish.
- Two large slices of rye or sourdough bread, toasted (choose GF if you need to)
- 4 slices responsibly sourced smoked Salmon
- 2 tbsp ricotta
- Sprinkle of seeds such as pumpkin and sesame
- To dress- your favourite combination of dill, pickled cucumber, avocado, thinly sliced radish, micro greens or rocket with a squeeze of lemon and black pepper.
A healthy version of an American classic which keeps the carbs from the flour, oats and banana balanced with protein and fats from eggs and nut butter or protein powder. I make these gluten free flour but you can use normal flour and for vegans can use egg replacer.
- Coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup flour (I use gluten free mix, can be wholemeal)
- 1/2 cup oats
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk- either organic full fat dairy or plant milk (works well with rice milk)
- 2 tablespoon of nut butter or protein powder
- To serve- a combination of your favourite seasonal berries (or use frozen and warm through), a dollop of full fat live yoghurt, vegan yoghurt or ricotta with a modest squeeze of honey or maple syrup.
Place all the ingredients apart from the oil and toppings in a blender or food processor and whizz until smooth. You may need to loosen with more water or milk. Heat a large flying pan and add enough oil to coat the pan. If making large pancakes pour 1/4 of the mixture in and swirl to coat the bottom. Cook for 3- 4 minutes until golden and then flip over for 2- 3 minutes. Slide onto a plate. For mini pancakes you can use a ladle to drop smaller dollops into the pan. Serve with toppings of your choice!
Great for a busy morning as you can make it the night before and leave in sealed containers in the fridge for a grab and go breakfast that’s deliciously cool for warmer seasons. This recipe makes two portions and will happily keep for 2 – 3 days in the fridge. It’s an excellent mix of carbs from the oats and fruit, protein and fats from the nuts, chia seeds and yoghurt. Mix it all together and away you go!
- Peeled, grated apple
- 1 1/2 cups oats
- 1/2 cup full fat yoghurt
- 1 cup milk of choice (or until the muesli is covered nicely)
- 1/2 cup blueberries or mix with raisins, goji berries or any fruit of choice (can keep some aside to scatter on top)
- Tablespoon chia seeds (or other seeds)
- Tablespoon sliced almonds (or other nuts)
- Tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon