You’re reading First Thing, a weekly series on HuffPost UK helping to make your mornings happier and healthier.
You’ve heard it a hundred times: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And however tired you are of hearing it, it’s true. A good brekkie has been linked to better cholesterol, memory, and – importantly – energy levels.
If you’re feeling sluggish first thing, the food you decide to eat could impact how you feel for the rest of the day. So, it’s pretty important stuff.
Now we all know porridge, eggs, fruit, and yoghurt, for example, are healthy choices – but what if you’re up for trying something new?
Nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed told HuffPost UK eating a balanced breakfast means trying to get: 1) a portion of carbs, such as oats or wholemeal bread; 2) a portion of protein, such as beans, yogurt, fish, eggs or ground seeds/nut butters; and 3) aportion of fruit or vegetables, such as spinach in a smoothie, berries on porridge, or green beans in your omelette. You should aim to get fibre in there too, as most of us don’t get enough of it in our diets, she says.
We asked Anne de la Hunty, senior scientist and editor of Nutrition Bulletin, British Nutrition Foundation, if she had any ideas for some new takes on healthy breakfasts. Here’s what she shared.
Porridge – but with grains
“Try making porridge out of wholegrains other than oats,” says de la Hunty, “for example, a mixture of wholegrain barley or spelt flakes, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, freekeh or millet will give a nice nutty taste and is a good way of getting more fibre in your diet.”
Adding berries, dried fruits such as apricots or cranberries or toasted nuts will add flavour, fibre, antioxidants and, in the case of nuts, protein and unsaturated fats as well, she says.
Fish – yes, really
“Think about having fish,” she says. “For example, a kedgeree or risotto made with mackerel or kippers and brown rice will provide protein, fibre and omega 3 fats, as would grilled sardines and tomatoes on wholegrain toast.”
Beans – with egg, too
Beans are good sources of fibre and protein, which will help to keep you feeling full through the morning.
“A mixed bean shakshuka makes a great brunch and can be made with whatever canned beans you have in the cupboard, eg chickpeas, kidney beans, borlotti beans, cannellini beans or pinto beans,” says de la Hunty. “Combined with tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic, it will not only provide you with fibre and protein but also a great range of essential vitamins and minerals as well.”
Try this simple shakshuka breakfast recipe for starters.
First Thing is a weekly series on HuffPost UK Life giving you tips and advice on how to enjoy your mornings. Whether you’re an early bird or night owl, starting your day off right will make for a happier and healthier day. We’ll be sharing exercise advice, nutrition guidance, as well as ideas on forming new habits. (And no, the answer to a productive morning isn’t just setting an alarm for 5am!)