Healthy choices: Breakfast options

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. Whether you are a breakfast-eater or not, I think it is necessary for most of us to eat regularly throughout the day to maintain our energy levels and obtain all of the nutrients we need from a range of foods.

I like to eat breakfast because it gives me enough energy to start the day and stops me from looking for snacks later in the morning. During the week I have a sugar-free cereal topped with dried fruit and served with semi-skimmed milk. For me this is an easy choice that I like and that fills me up. On the weekend I am more likely to consider other breakfast options – to provide my taste buds with variety and give me more of the nutrients I need.

For breakfast, or even brunch, there are so many delicious and nutritious choices:

  • Muesli with oat flakes, dried fruit, nuts and seeds – the oat/fruit combination provides both fast-release energy, to get you going, and slow-release energy, to maintain energy levels. It also provides fibre that helps digestion. The nuts and seeds provide protein and important vitamins and minerals. Serve with milk or yoghurt for more protein, vitamins and minerals.
  • Eggs on wholemeal toast – providing protein and slow-release energy, vitamins and minerals.
  • Bagel with smoked salmon – provides omega-3 fats for a healthy heart as well as vitamins and minerals
  • Homemade pancakes with fruit – served with fruit for fibre, vitamins and minerals
  • Lightly smoked kippers – rich in omega-3 fats acids, protein, vitamins and minerals
  • Fresh fruit smoothie – fruit for vitamins and minerals, milk or yoghurt for protein, vitamins and minerals – add a spoonful of nut butter for extra protein, vitamins and minerals
  • Yoghurt and fruit compote with oats or muesli – yoghurt for protein and calcium, fruit for fibre, vitamins and minerals, oats or muesli for fibre and slow-release energy
  • Baked beans on wholemeal toast – baked beans count towards your 5-a day goal and provide fibre, the toast provide slow-release energy and together these foods provide a full complement of amino acids (a ‘perfect’ protein meal)

When  thinking about a balanced meal, try to choose from at least three of the following four food groups (below). For example, serve your choice of breakfast with vegetables, like grilled tomatoes or mushrooms, or follow with fruit, fruit juice, milk or yoghurt for a balanced meal

  • Fruits and vegetables – including fruit juice (150ml/day maximum)
  • Carbohydrates – bread, bread rolls, bagels, hot or cold cereals (choose wholemeal or wholegrain if possible)
  • Dairy – milk, yoghurt, cheese
  • Protein – eggs, lean meat, fish, nut butters

Some breakfast choices can be high in sugar (breakfast cereals, breakfast bars), high in fat (pastries like croissants, kedgeree) or both (baked goods like sweet muffins or pain au chocolat). When cooking breakfast, try to grill or poach rather than fry foods.

Healthy breakfast choices can be delicious. Just choose your favourites and enjoy!

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