If you’re like me and most other college students, then finals week(s) are fast-approaching. Even for those out of college, the end-of-the-season work year tends to get busier–deadlines to meet, meetings to schedule, jobs to accomplish. In all of the rush and stress, getting a healthy nutritious breakfast to start your morning off right can be tough. Maybe you stayed up all night studying so you skip breakfast, or you’re running late gathering the needed materials for a meeting with your boss so you stop by fast food to grab a bite. Either way, eating a wholesome and good-for-you meal can help you focus and be more productive during you day. Now, you may be thinking that you don’t have the time or energy to plan and produce a whole big breakfast…great, you don’t need to! A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be stressful, time-consuming or burdensome. Here I have suggested healthier breakfast options to make at home instead of fast food (or skipping the meal for that matter) that will save you time, money, and your healthy eating plan! Enjoy!
I get it, Mexican for breakfast–delicious! But often those wraps are filled with unhealthy fats and other unwanted ingredients (such as enriched flour). Instead make your own using whole wheat tortillas, eggs, and plenty of veggies. Try this: scramble eggs with tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions. Stuff whole wheat tortillas (I love La Tortilla Factory!) with the egg mixture and top with cheese, beans, avocado, etc. Making them the morning of is great if you have time, but if you’re busy (who isn’t?), you can easily make a batch of these on the weekend, wrap each individually once they’ve cooled, and stick them in the freezer. Then, on a rushed morning, throw 1 or 2 in the microwave and you have a deliciously quick burritos!
The popularity of the “Egg McMuffin” and other such breakfast sandwiches is no doubt there. And why not, right? It’s quick, convenient and filled with eggs, meat and other good nutrients. While this is true, oftentimes those convenience sandwiches are not as healthy as desired. But, luckily, making them at home with healthier ingredients couldn’t be easier! Whisk eggs and/or egg whites in a mug and add it to a sprayed hot pan. While the egg patty is cooking, toast your whole wheat english muffin or bagel thin and cook your meat in the microwave (turkey bacon is my suggestion). Once the egg is cooked, assemble your sandwich by adding the egg, meat and cheese to the bread base. Like many of these other breakfast suggestions, to make them even quicker, make a big batch when you have time and freeze them. Then, just pop a sandwich into the microwave to heat up when ready to eat. If you want to skip the bread, try finding a recipe for egg muffin cups, which are also freezable, as well as customizable for your taste!
Bagels are often seen as the quintessential work or quick grab-and-go breakfast. They’re easy to pop down in the toaster, and quickly slather on a topping before heading out. Bagels are also food that could actually be semi-healthy depending on the type (whole wheat) and toppings (natural peanut butter); however, bagels don’t offer a lot of nutritional value and offer too big of a serving for just one. Luckily, there are options to make it better. Either way always go for the whole-wheat variety. Try bagel thins–equally delicious, but a smaller serving–or eat only half the bagel and save the other half for another day. Instead of slathering your bagel with fatty cream cheese or sugary jellies, find a reduced-fat version or top it with peanut butter, avocado, mashed berries, leftover salmon, etc. To add more protein, try adding a hard-boiled egg to complete your meal.
Although yogurt may seem the “healthy choice” at fast food restaurants (and it certainly is better than other options), those fast-food ones are often loaded with added sugars in the yogurt and granola. Making a quick parfait at home is just as easy and much healthier. Choose a plain Greek yogurt as the base and top with fresh fruit, nuts/seeds, and granola with as little added sugar as possible. You can even prep the yogurt and fruit the night before and then add the other toppings the next morning!
You may be eyeing that muffin (scone or pastry works too) while standing in line to order your latte, but let me just back you away from that thought. These muffins are often loaded with tons of sugars as well as fats and loads of calories–none of which will have a positive impact on your day. There are plenty of healthy muffin and scone recipes on the internet that you can find and make ahead of time for a quick and healthy breakfast. Or, to get a more nutritious meal, skip the muffin and have oatmeal. Oatmeal is one of the healthiest things that you can eat for breakfast. If you feel you don’t have time to make and eat a bowl in the morning (although it only takes about 2-3 minutes to make), try Overnight Oats. These are prepped the night before so that you have an already-made yet delicious breakfast delight the next morning. Or, store a stash of instant packets (try to get plain packets due to the added sugar in the flavored ones) in your desk drawer along with healthy toppings (nut butters, fruits, nuts, raisins) to make at work.
Generally, smoothies are one of the healthier fast-food breakfasts out there–depending on the contents. Yes, they are high in sugar, a lot of which comes from fruit, which is okay. However, you do want to be aware and watch out for lots of added sweeteners such as honey, syrup, sugar, etc. that places put in their recipes. Also, consistently purchasing smoothies can take a toll on your budget. For these reasons, I suggest making a healthy, filling and refreshing smoothie at home. Start with a base of water, milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc. Add in any greens you may want such as kale or spinach. (Don’t worry–you won’t taste them, they just add more greens and nutrients to your smoothie.) Then, add in fruit, frozen or fresh, such as bananas, berries, peaches, mango, or pineapple. Lastly, other additions that are popular are protein powder, chia seeds, flax seeds, nuts, nut butters, coconut…you get the idea. The great thing with smoothies is that the options and flavor combinations are just about endless! Make it tropical or one of my favorites, peanut butter banana (tastes like a cookie!). To save you time, make freezer smoothie bags. In a freezable bag, place all your ingredients except for the liquid. Then, in the morning, pour the liquid into a blender, add the bag ingredients along with ice (optional) and blend! You can make lots of bags ahead of time for many deliciously refreshing morning meals!
What do you think? What are some of your healthy yet convenient go-to breakfasts?