As a nutritionist the question of what makes a healthy breakfast is one I get on a regular basis from friends and family. I always say that it depends what your morning routine looks like.
As a child my granny always used to make me porridge for breakfast, and this is a routine I took to university with me and eventually on into adult life. It fits the perfect breakfast mould of being cheap, filling, healthy and delicious, and is a great way to warm up on winter mornings. Oats are a great source of fibre and also have a low GI, which means porridge keeps you fuelled until lunch. In summer I switch to a lovely bircher muesli, which works in the same way.
Porridge is often criticised for being boring, but the beauty of it is that you can mix things up by changing your combos. It’s a great way to inject different nutrients to your diet, as well as making those oats taste even better. My favourite go-to topping is banana and cinnamon; bananas are high in potassium, which our muscles need to function properly. Fresh berries are also a great summer topping, and raspberries are my favourite – especially good as they are a great source of vitamin C, which our bodies need for loads of things, most importantly to keep our immune systems strong and healthy. If you are having to reach to the store-cupboard then dried fruit and a drizzle of honey is another great option (and just 50g of dried fruit counts as one of your five a day).
For more inspiration check out our porridge recipes, or watch Jamie’s video below.
You can also jazz up your porridge by trying different milks, which can be read about in our feature on the pros and cons of plant based milks.
Breakfast in a hurry
Another question I get is how to make a healthy breakfast when you are in a rush or on the go. For this I would always recommend a breakfast smoothie.
My little trick is to make up bags of frozen fruit ahead of time (another great way to use up fruit that is going off or looking a bit sorry for itself), and then whizz them up in the morning with a bit of natural yogurt, fruit juice, milk and a handful of oats to give it a bit more sustenance as a breakfast alternative. You could also add a bit of fresh ginger or a pinch of cinnamon for some extra flavour! This is a great tip for those of you who are often guilty of skipping breakfast.
Being a morning runner/gym-bunny I always make sure that my breakfast contains some form of protein. This sometimes comes in the form of a homemade protein shake, or a handful of seeds in my porridge – if you mix up the seeds you use you’ll get a variety of nutrients in there. I always also try and use chia seeds because they are especially high in protein – great for repairing muscles and keeping any post-workout soreness at bay!
Eggs are another protein-filled breakfast option. As well as being a source of various other essential vitamins and minerals, the yolks are a great source of vitamin D, which we need to absorb calcium and keep our bones strong and healthy. Jamie has a great breakfast recipe for South American eggs, which is also gluten-free.
In terms of what to drink with breakfast, water is always the best option – we should be getting eight glasses in a day, so the earlier you start the better! Our bodies also frequently mistake thirst for hunger so keeping hydrated will help stop you over-eating. However, sugar-free tea, coffee and no more than 200ml juice are also good options! This is all you need to add another portion of your five a day. Tea and coffee are predominantly made up of water so will also help you keep hydrating – however, both do contain caffeine so make sure you aren’t overdoing it and are drinking water between cups.
Whatever you usually have for breakfast, try to make it healthy. After all, your body has (usually!) been fasting for at least 10 hours when breakfast rolls around, so it deserves something good inside it to get you set up for the day.