A registered dietitian shares her favorite tricks for creating a healthy breakfast at home.
A healthy breakfast sets the tone for how you’ll eat for the rest of the day. And if you start your morning with something not-so-nutritious, well, you’ve probably already experienced the effects. You can feel sluggish, tired, or hungry (again!) in just a few hours.
But how exactly do you put a healthy breakfast together? New York City-based registered dietitian Natalie Rizzo explains it’s not always easy. “You have to figure out what works best for your stomach and keeps you full,” she says. For her clients she’s tried lots of different tricks to keep them full until lunch time. Her go-to? Oatmeal with seasonal fruit, milk, and little nut butter. These are her 5 expert-approved tips for creating an energy boosting, healthy breakfast at home.
Start your day with whole grains, protein, and healthy fats
Instead of a coffee shop muffin or doughnut, which spike your blood sugar, look for foods high in protein and healthy fat. “An omelet or a piece of whole grain toast with nut butter on it, give you some energy, and your blood sugar levels will stay at a consistent level throughout the morning,” she says. Generally, she recommends meals composed of 50-60% healthy carbs, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, 25-30% protein, and then whatever’s leftover (between 10-25%) for healthy fats.
Incorporate fresh, plant-based foods
“It’s really good to start your day off with some veggies,” Rizzo says. While she acknowledges eating leafy greens at breakfast isn’t a huge part of our culture, incorporating veggies into omelets and smoothies whenever time allows is a good start. Big picture: “Try to either have a vegetable or some fruit because it gives you some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in the morning.”
Make indulgent foods with better ingredients
Believe it or not, sweet is not the enemy. Less refined sugars, like banana, applesauce, and date have a place in a healthy breakfast routine. On weekends or mornings when she has a bit more time, Rizzo likes making whole grain pancakes with oats, whole wheat flour, and mashed banana. “It’s totally fine to make a waffle or pancake but to do it in a healthier way,” she says. Another idea we love: adding some protein powder to whole grain waffles.
Get creative with healthy breakfasts for kids
Since not every kid wants to eat a full meal in the morning, finding the right solution can take some trial and error. For children who like sweets, Rizzo suggests making a smoothie with some strawberry, banana, and Greek yogurt. “It’s a great way to get them to eat a pretty well-balanced breakfast that they’re most likely going to eat,” she says. For those that like cereal, try overnight oats with fresh fruit or whole grain waffle with cinnamon and nut butter.
Try make-ahead breakfasts for busy mornings
Convenient foods can be that much more tempting when you’re racing out the door. To really stick with this new healthy habit, Rizzo says batch cooking is a good solution. Consider wrapping up a batch of homemade granola bars packed with almond butter, to get in some extra protein. Or mix up some energy bites and store them in the freezer for those crazy mornings.