Break free from a breakfast rut and alleviate boredom for good with tips from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
By: Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN
Breakfast is an important meal, providing nutrients and energy to fuel the day ahead. Unfortunately, it can be easy to grow weary of oatmeal, cereal, pancakes and other common breakfast foods. The key to eating a balanced breakfast is including at least three food groups. Here are three registered dietitian nutritionist-approved strategies for keeping the morning meal interesting:
Ignore the urge to do nothing more than drink black coffee; graze on nuts and berries instead. It’s an easy way to get nutrients and can be eaten on the go. Adding low-fat milk rounds out the meal and creates a balanced breakfast. Another option is Greek yogurt, which is protein-rich and pairs well with nuts, berries and granola.
A breakfast burrito is another option that can be thrown together quickly using leftover beans, rice and meat. Add an egg, tomato, lettuce, salsa, shredded cheese or any combination of those foods and fold into a tortilla. Breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious.
Although many other countries have developed a penchant for pancakes, the world is filled with delicious breakfast ideas, almost all of which include three of the food groups. For example, many cultures have a version of hot cereal. In China, zhou is made with wheat in the north and congee is made with rice in the south. Both are cooked into a kind of porridge and can be spiked with slivers of roasted meat, crunchy pickled vegetables, spices and tea-smoked eggs cut into quarters. Oatmeal can be turned into congee by adding a combination of flavors and foods.
Bread can be found on every culture’s breakfast table, but what people put on it—from salty, savory Vegemite in Australia to butter and sugar with a dunk into coffee in Cuba—is wildly different. Revive stale bread the Ethiopian way by putting a scoop of warm stew or soup beans on top. Add a dollop of plain yogurt for a delicious, though non-traditional, morning meal.
Beans are a staple in many breakfasts, forming the base for a stew in places like India or served fermented over rice in Japan. In Egypt, many families claim to have the best recipe for ful medames, a fava bean porridge laced with garlic, lemon and parsley and served with bread and pickled vegetables. Exploring global flavors first thing in the morning can turn breakfast into a new experience.
The morning meal doesn’t have to be confined to breakfast foods. Leftover rice can be turned into a porridge by adding nuts, honey and milk and warming it over low heat. Rice is also perfect under a sunny-side up egg, brightened with a splash of hot sauce.
Re-envision leftover dinner items. Shred last night's steak and make machaca con huevos, an egg and beef breakfast popular in Mexico. Really, any leftovers are fair game for a scramble or an omelet. Roasted vegetables, meat or grains can be added to eggs for a dinner-inspired breakfast.
And don’t forget about lunch for breakfast. Make a quick sandwich to eat on the way out the door. Chances are it’ll include least three food groups. When all else fails, simply pull out last night's dinner and enjoying it in front of the fridge for a simple and effective way to eat a balanced breakfast.
All three of the above tips share a theme: By including items from at least three food groups, almost anything can be eaten first thing in the morning.
Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN
Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN
Maureen is the program director of marketing and communications and a practicing registered dietitian nutritionist with over 35 years of experience.
In this episode of Ask A Nutritionist, Kristal Shelden, RDN, answers the question "What should I eat for a healthy immune system?”
Megan Holdaway, RDN, shares three tips on how you can ensure a healthy and nutritious meal for your family using shelf stable foods.