What are the best foods to eat in the morning? How do we remain healthy and keep up energy levels? The answer may not be what you’d expect.
For a long time we’ve been told by experts that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
However, does anyone really know why it’s so important? And, more specifically, how you can maximise the benefits by eating the right foods?
Well, here at Feedr, we’re full of inquisitive minds, so we sent one of our finest foodies to investigate! We’re going to share the best foods to sustain your busy lifestyle, focusing on both the taste and (of course) the science!
Why should you eat breakfast?
‘You should really eat breakfast? It’s the most important meal of the day’. We’ve all heard that before as we scoff a digestive shamefully at our desks, as a spritely & glossy-haired colleague skips merrily off, packed full of far-too-early-for-this-time energy. What is their secret? Is it breakfast? Nutrition is such a well-researched area of human behaviour because, well, everybody eats and most of us love doing so! Because of this, there’s a wealth of literature around breakfast consumption, with many citing strong links between eating a healthy breakfast and cognitive behaviour, lower BMI and healthier blood pressure.
In several randomised double trials (the most effective way to thoroughly test a hypothesis), scientists found that eating breakfast compared to not eating breakfast made no significant improvement on health. However, countless other studies show a parallel between those we consider to be in optimum health and those who eat breakfast.
In other words, eating breakfast doesn’t directly improve your health as compared to missing breakfast. However, many environmental factors which do improve health are experienced by people who also happen to eat breakfast. It could be said that people that eat breakfast tend on the whole to be healthier, however, research dictates that they are not made healthier by having breakfast instead of missing it. This is probably because a healthy breakfast is better than no breakfast, but no breakfast is probably better than an unhealthy one.
So, in the spirit of Pascal’s wager, we might as well revamp our breakfast habits in order to gain an increase in productivity, mood and health than risk it all with sugary Crunchy Nut.
The Breakfast Framework
We like to approach the important questions as practically as possible. So, let’s first consider what we want breakfast to do for us, a ‘breakfast manifesto’ if you will…
- It should be delicious;
- It needs to be quick and simple to make;
- It needs to be easily transportable;
- It can’t break the bank;
- It has to leave us feeling energised.
With those 5 points in mind, let’s think about some common breakfast options and rank them against our manifesto, then we can compare them to some healthier and on-trend options to see if there really are tangible benefits to making breakfast part of a healthy regime.
First up, Cereal.
Offender: Crunchy Nut
We don’t want to be the ones to vilify the deliciously addictive crunchy nut. However, because so many of you love it – you deserve to know the truth.
What’s in it?
A roasted blend of corn flakes, honey, peanuts and three different types of sugar. The triple-sugar-threat means that crunchy nut packs a whopping 11g of sugar per 30g serving. It’s literally more than a third sugar! That’s also before you’ve added any milk, which can contain potentially 5g of sugar per 100ml. This amount is guaranteed to give a short-term sugar high, but what goes up must come down. Therefore, cereals of this kind are often the culprit for the mid-morning slump that many of us complain of.
Alternative: Homemade Granola
Everyone loves cereal, but store bought options tend to be overpriced and void of nutrients. As ever, making your own version of products you might ordinarily buy allows you to control every ingredient and tune the product to your tastes. Granola is surprisingly easy to make, and the outcome has to be more delicious than anything you can buy in-store! There’s loads of recipes to be found on the internet, but here’s a favourite of the folks at Feedr…
Whole rolled oats: 300g
Date syrup: 4 Tbsp.
Virgin coconut oil: 2 Tbsp.
Acai berries: 20g
Sunflower seeds: 10g
Pumpkin Seeds: 10g
Coconut flakes: 10g
A large pinch of kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 130℃ (fan), mix all the ingredients except coconut flakes and barberries in a large bowl. Distribute the mix evenly onto a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray and place in the preheated oven for 20 mins. Remove after 20 mins, add the remaining ingredients and gently move the mixture around the tray. Return to the over for a further ~10 mins. Adding the coconut flakes and barberries at this later stage helps prevent them from burning and encourages the granola to form little nuggets more easily. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
So! With that cooking done, let’s put these two cereal options head-to-head against our framework and see who wins:
|Criteria||Crunchy Nut (/10)||Homemade Granola (/10)|
|Easy to Make||9||4|
Winner: Homemade Granola!
Offender: White toast with Nutella.
Yes, I know we are going after the classics of a delicious breakfast here. First Crunchy Nut, now Nutella – but bear with us! All we are trying to do is help you have a more productive morning. This one is guilty for a few reasons. Let’s start with the white bread. Whilst providing great value and optimal toasting, white bread is packed with sugar and stripped of many of the nutrients that whole grain bread provides. Nutella is not much better, check out the image below to see what’s really in a jar of nutella (Photo: Reddit). Can we do better than this? – I certainly hope so.
Alternative: Avocado on toasted Whole Grain Sourdough
Although it doesn’t give the same sweet, sugary hit as the nutella-based option, what really makes this breakfast is that it is centred on the basis of our logo….the avocado. Avocado is so popular because it’s high in (healthy polyunsaturated) fats, which triggers the same pleasure in our tastebuds and brains as the sugar and fats do in Nutella. When you combine this with whole grain sourdough you’re going to get the all the nutrient-loaded benefits from the whole grain, as well as the lower glycemic load and increased fibre, as compared to white bread. (Photo: Maple&Fitz)
|Criteria||Nutella on white toast (/10)||Avocado on wholegrain sourdough (/10)|
|Easy to Make||8||6|
Winner: Avo on Sourdough!
Healthy Breakfast on-the-go
Now, let’s have a look at some of the best ways to have a healthy breakfast prepared when you leave the house in the morning.
Many cite their reason for skipping breakfast as preferring a few extra minutes in bed than spending that time preparing food. Here are a few suggestions that don’t take much time, can be prepped ahead of time, and can be taken on the go to eat in either in transit or at your desk. These foods allow you to start your day with a boost of energy.
Hard Boiled Eggs:
Hard boiled eggs are a great way to start the day. On a Sunday while you are watching TV, making dinner or just relaxing, put a pot of water on to boil. Once the water is boiling, add in the eggs and cook for 7-8 minutes depending on preference. After the set time, quickly run the eggs under cold water to stop the cooking and to help release the shell. Tap the eggs on the counter and peel them, place in a plastic bag or container, put some salt and pepper on and into the fridge they go – ready to be eaten the next day.
Tip: Do a bunch at the same time so you have a full week’s worth of breakfast ready in 10 minutes! Hard boiled eggs will keep in the fridge for a whole week.
Smoothies are another great way to add fruits, veggies and nutrients into your diet plus they can be easily be prepped in advance. On Sunday, create individual smoothie bags with all of your ingredients, so that in the morning, all you have to do is add the liquid (water, coconut milk, dairy milk, almond milk, coconut water, the options are endless), pour the contents of the bag into the blender and blend! Breakfast will be ready in no time. Some great additions to smoothies include chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed, bee pollen, nut butters or coconut oil for a healthy fat, frozen cauliflower for a secret vegetable, spinach for some iron, and of course any fruit you like. A Feedr favourite combination is coconut milk with a banana, a few strawberries, a piece of mango, flaxseed, hemp seeds, bee pollen and a touch of peanut butter! It’s like dessert in a glass, but with all healthy ingredients!
Yoghurt might be the ultimate grab and go breakfast (as long as you pick the right one). But how do you know which one to pick? There are a host of options – greek yoghurt, flavoured yoghurt, bio yoghurt, natural yoghurt, live culture yoghurt, coconut yoghurt, other non-dairy yoghurt. What is the difference between them and how can you ensure you are picking the one what is best for you? Well, as we’ve already established, a good indicator is sugar content.
All dairy yoghurts will have some sugar in them, because of the naturally occurring sugars in milk. Flavoured yoghurts will have a lot more sugar in them because of the additional flavouring. An easy way to avoid this is to buy plain natural or greek yoghurt and add your own toppings. Try adding a drop of honey and some fruit to your yoghurt and it will immediately taster better, without any of the artificial flavouring usually present in yoghurt.
Yoghurt is a fantastic source of protein, and can contribute to a healthy gut flora when you eat the right types of yoghurt. So, next time you are in Sainsbury’s, instead of grabbing the flavoured yoghurt, why not try the natural one and add some berries? Not adventurous enough? Why not try the homemade granola recipe from above and add that to the top of your yoghurt for a breakfast that is filling and delicious.
Tip: Make a big batch and it will last a while. Buy a few yoghurts and a box of berries for the week, store them in the fridge at work or at home and have another easy grab-and-go breakfast.
Do you love porridge but can’t be bothered to turn the stove on in the mornings? Why not try overnight oats. Overnight oats use the same rolled oats that are in porridge and take no time or effort to put together. This is another dish that is easily prepared at the beginning of the week, giving you a bunch of healthy, convenient breakfasts to last you all week.
To prepare overnight oats, all you need to do is add oats to a container with a liquid of your choice and store it in the fridge overnight. If you want to get a little fancy you can add some toppings like coconut flakes, chia seeds, peanut butter or maple syrup. If you are a porridge lover, it might take a little while to adjust to overnight oats as they are prepared cold.
However, they are delicious and take no time to prepare. Overnight oats can be kept in the fridge for 5 days. Another way to have a quick, healthy breakfast ready for the whole week in just 10 minutes!
Chia Pudding takes 5 minutes to make and will last 5 days in the fridge: another perfect healthy breakfast option that you can prepare in advance and have for the full week. Chia seeds are considered a superfood and are a great source of fibre, protein and omega 3.
I hear you ask, how do I make breakfast out of these mysterious little black seeds? Similar to overnight oats, all you need to do is combine the chia seeds with milk, almond milk, rice milk or similar and place in the fridge overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours. The chia seeds bind the liquid, forming a consistency akin to yoghurt. You can create individual portions in containers and top with your choice of fruit, jam, dried fruit, or nuts.
There you have it, 5 easy ways to make a healthy easy breakfast that keeps you fueled for the week. However, you can’t always guarantee everyone in your team will have the forethought to prepare a proper breakfast.
The restaurants, cafes and delis we work with at Feedr pride themselves on creating healthy nutritious food and we help them to spread their message. Take a look at our menu to see what healthy options can be organised for your team, ensuring your office stays engaged while other companies are suffering from the mid-morning slump.