Breakfast is one of only three meals we have in a day, but most of us devote very little time to it. We spend just 7.4 minutes prepping our breakfast, compared to dinner where we spend up to an hour. Granted, our time is a lot more limited in the morning, but if we want a nutritious breakfast, then it stands to reason we should be devoting a little bit more time.
When it comes to breakfast choices, we are definitely a nation of packaged cereal eaters, although the research above show we are opting for more natural food choices - namely eggs, porridge and fruit. If you regularly opt for the convenience breakfast option - a cereal bar, bowl of packaged cereal, toast and marmalade, or maybe a croissant and a glass of fruit juice - then it may be time for a rethink.
Many breakfasts cereals are heavy on refined carbohydrates, which our body can struggle to deal with. These refined carbohydrates, or simple sugars as they are sometimes referred to, cause a spike in our blood glucose levels giving us that quick boost of energy. Soon after, this is followed by a slump in energy and mood, causing our body to release cortisol, our stress hormone.
This heavy emphasis on cereals also means we eat little protein or healthy fats at breakfast, both which help to keep our blood sugar levels balanced, providing a slow release of energy and satisfying our hunger levels for longer. If you find you are hungry and craving sugary snacks by mid-morning then it could be your blood sugars are out of balance.
Now I know that breakfasts have to be convenient - some days we just don't have the time. So, I've provided a couple of recipes you can try below. These are nutrient dense, good for blood sugar balance and can be made ahead, so you have healthy option on tap. Don't be scared of the fat content in these. Our bodies really thrive on the good fats in nuts and seeds!
Pecan Cranberry Granola Bars
These bars can be made in less than 30 minutes and you'll have a great home-made breakfast option for those busy mornings. The combination of oats, nuts and seeds provides a wonderful mix of fibre, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds are an excellent addition to your diet in midlife, Cinnamon is also great for blood sugar balancing.
Nutrition per serving: 180 calories; 4g protein; 6g sugar; 12g fat;
Makes 18 servings
215g pecans (roughly chopped)
85g rolled oats
60g chia seeds
60g flaxseed (ground)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
2. Line a 9 x 11 inch baking dish with baking paper. 3. In a large bowl, mix together the pecans, oats, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. 4. Add the eggs and honey and mix well. 5. Stir in the cranberries until evenly distributed. 6. Press the mixture into the baking dish lined with baking paper. 7. Take a second piece of baking paper and press it down on top of the mixture. Use something heavy, like a canned good, to press the mixture down very firmly. NB: don't skip this step as it helps ensure the bars hold together well. 8. Bake in the preheated oven for 13 minutes. 9. Put the parchment paper on top of the mixture again, pressing it down firmly one more time. Allow to cool. 10. Place the dish in the fridge until cooled completely, at least 20 minutes. 11. Pull the parchment paper out of the pan and cut the mixture into 18 bars. Enjoy!
Frittata muffins are so versatile you can add pretty much any veg into these, depending on what you have. Eggs are one easiest breakfast options and these can be made ahead. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days, and reheat when ready to serve.
Nutrition per serving (2 muffins): 238 calories; 12g protein; 1.2g fibre; 18g fat; Sugars 3%.
Makes 12 servings
(1 serving = 2 muffins)
Oil for baking sheet or use a silicon tray
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium white onion (finely diced)
2 clove(s) garlic (minced)
1 red bell pepper (or any other vegetable you prefer)
8 cherry tomatoes (diced)
60g baby spinach
4 tbsp milk of choice
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
Pinch salt and pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F and brush a 12-cup muffin tin with oil. 2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a pan sauté onion until soft and translucent. Add garlic, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, and spinach and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper and set aside in a bowl. 3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, flour, salt, and pepper until combined. Then, add the sautéed vegetables and stir to combine. 4. Add the mixture to the muffin tins. Each tin should be filled halfway. 5. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the tray at the halfway point. Let muffins cool in the pan for a few minutes.