I know it’s tempting to spend lockdown lounging around in leggings munching on biscuits and crisps, washed down with wine. But it’s a temptation you and I must resist, for many reasons. Vanity aside, it’s vital we do everything we can to stay as healthy as possible during this difficult time. Eating well is a great way to help keep your immune system functioning effectively. There’s never been a better time to boost your intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants so why not start with healthy breakfast ideas?
Most of us are spending much more time cooking from scratch, rather than relying on restaurants and ready meals. So there’s really no excuse not to take a long, hard look at your daily diet – and make improvements where necessary. That’s not to say I don’t condone the occasional treat! But your body will function much more effectively if you feed it nutritious food most of the time. Think citrus fruits, vegetables, berries, fibre and lean protein, instead of lots of fatty, sugary foods. Try to stick to regular mealtimes. And always make time for a healthy breakfast!
“Go to work on an egg”
This popular advertising slogan might have originated in the 1950s, but I think it’s just as relevant today. I adore eggs for breakfast – and thankfully, after some initial shortages, they now seem to be in plentiful supply. Eggs are a brilliant source of inexpensive, high-quality protein – perfect for healthy breakfast ideas. They’re also loaded with key vitamins, minerals and good fats. They’re endlessly versatile, and they taste delicious too!
One of my favourite healthy breakfast recipes is avocado and eggs on toast. It’s fast, it’s filling, and it’s easy to ring with changes with different types of bread. I think poached eggs are my favourite, but fried are definitely faster on busy days! A thick, multi-grain loaf or a wholemeal sourdough make the best base.
Top tip: Mash the avocado in a bowl – not on top of the toast – to avoid any accidental holes. And make sure your avocado is ripe. It should yield when you squeeze it. Just make sure you’re gentle or it will bruise!
So many healthy breakfast ideas feature eggs. Another favourite of mine is this twist on the classic boiled egg, by Jamie Oliver. Traditional toast ‘soldiers’ get an upgrade with pancetta-wrapped asparagus – delicious! With British asparagus just coming into season, this recipe is perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast. Asparagus is low in fat and calories, but rich in vitamins A, C and K. I must confess I like mine seasoned with lashings of black pepper!
The power of porridge
Many people consider porridge to be a winter breakfast. However, I eat it almost every day, come rain or shine – and even in the middle of a heatwave! Oats are a complex carbohydrate, so they provide slow-release energy that keeps you fuller for longer. They also contain a type of fibre called beta-glucan, which can help to lower cholesterol if you eat enough of it.
I usually pimp up my porridge with fresh berries, such as blueberries or raspberries. But any fruit will do; banana always works well, I think, just experiment with whatever you have at home. This is one of my favourite healthy breakfast ideas. But don’t be tempted by those ‘instant’ porridge sachets you mix with milk and cook in the microwave. Some of them contain a LOT of added sugar. If you’re looking for healthy breakfast recipes, this porridge combination is tasty and filling. But ‘proper’ porridge – with or without added fruit – is easy enough to make. Simply put your oats in a saucepan, add milk or water and a tiny sprinkle of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Top tip: Pay your porridge plenty of attention! Stir it regularly while it’s cooking and make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
I love pancakes, but by the time I’ve showered them in sugar and lemon they’re not exactly my preferred option for one of my healthy breakfast ideas. However, I’ve managed to source a recipe for banana oatmeal pancakes that’s delicious, gluten- and dairy-free. The method is super simple too. You just mix all the ingredients in a blender, then cook as usual.
Top tip: If you’re keen on a low-calorie breakfast, stick to fruit for your toppings. You could treat yourself to a sprinkling of (vegan) chocolate chips or maybe some maple syrup for a special occasion.
Yogurt with granola/muesli and berries is yet another of my healthy breakfast ideas that features oats and fruit. But have you ever thought of making the yogurt yourself? Me neither – until I came across this recipe from Delish. It uses an electric pressure cooker to create yogurt that it describes as “extra-fresh, creamy and smooth”. I am very tempted to try this now that I have a little extra time on my hands. If, however, you’re juggling more jobs than ever during lockdown, simply buy some low-fat yogurt. Then mix with muesli and berries for a tasty, express version!
The magic of muffins
‘Cake for breakfast,’ I hear you cry. ‘That’s hardly healthy!’ But yes this can certainly feature in my list of healthy breakfast ideas. In fact, this recipe for blueberry muffins uses flaxseed and yogurt to keep the calorie count down. You’d never know though – I promise they taste delicious! The secret to its success is the dried apricots, which are whizzed until smooth and added to the other ingredients. The method itself is easy-peasy and they take just 25 minutes to cook. Perfect for breakfast or brunch!
There are times when less is more. Occasionally, especially during the summer, I crave something light and fresh to start the day. Enter the smoothie, one of the easiest, fastest healthy breakfast recipes in existence.
Smoothies are super versatile. You can make them with fruit or vegetables, bulk with extra protein, or add healthy fats. Combine with the milk of your choice and you have an instant breakfast that’s packed with goodness. Strawberry smoothies are my favourite – probably because they remind me of summer. But if you use frozen strawberries, they’re a winner all year round.
This smoothie recipe uses yogurt and almond butter, but they’re purely optional. Almost any frozen fruit works equally well. Just make sure that whatever you’re using doesn’t have any added sugar.
Top tip: I like to ring the changes by making my smoothie with unsweetened coconut water – it has lots of potassium. Sometime I throw in a tablespoon of chia seeds too. They’re a great source of fibre, protein and unsaturated fats.
That’s breakfast sorted! For more useful advice on how to stay healthy throughout the rest of the day, click here to read my blog on maintaining a balanced diet.