Today's post is in response to a question that I get asked A LOT.
What in the world am I supposed to eat for breakfast now that I'm eating cleaner?
It's like all the sudden, now that donuts and fast food breakfast sandwiches are off-limits (which by the way, donuts aren't actually off-limits...), your mind comes to a screeching halt when it's time to feed yourself in the mornings.
I understand, I've been there.
In fact, when my naturopathic doctor put me on an extremely restricted diet back in 2012 to heal my leaky gut, I was at a TOTAL loss of what to eat in the mornings. At that time, I couldn't have any grains, eggs, dairy or even bananas! Thankfully, most of you won't be on that extreme of a diet (take care of your gut now before it gets worse!), so it's not nearly as bad as you may think.
First of all, eating clean is about eating real, whole foods and avoiding packaged and processed foods, so that does mean that you will have to make your breakfasts at home. Unless you have a healthy grocery store or smoothie chain (not the processed, sugary kind) near you, you will have to allow yourself a little extra time in the morning to prepare your food. But think of it this way, you could spend the same amount of time in the McDonald's drive-thru or the line at Starbucks and all of these breakfasts are a lot healthier for your body than a McMuffin or a slice of lemon pound cake.
Now, for some of you this may be a daunting thought because you are, like me, someone who is pretty much a zombie for the first 30-60 minutes upon rising. Again, I understand. But, I got you.
All of these breakfast ideas are easy, quick and require minimal brainpower. Which means you can make them with your eyes half-closed if you have to.
So, allow yourself a few extra minutes in the morning to make your breakfast and if you have time, to eat it at home as well. Our bodies do best when we eat slowly and deliberately - allowing our digestive system to do its job without any distractions (ya know, like driving or putting on your make-up). When we try to eat while multi-tasking, and especially when we try to rush through eating, we can end up with a gurgling stomach, feeling bloated or nauseous. So, give your stomach the care it deserves and sit down to eat for 5 or 10 minutes. And no, in your car doesn't count.
Okay, so now that that's out of the way, let's get on to the breakfast ideas!
Let's just start right off with my favorite, shall we? Now, let me preface this (in fact, let me preface this entire post!) by saying, that I used to be a junk food breakfast junkie. Meaning, I used to eat donuts, waffles, pancakes, bagels, fast food breakfast meals or sugary dessert-breakfasts from Starbucks every day of my life. I did not drink smoothies.
Smoothies, however, became my favorite go-to breakfast because, after finally giving my body time to de-tox and come up for air, that's what it started craving all the time. And now, I honestly don't feel right if I go a morning without a smoothie.
Besides being SUPER easy to make, they are incredibly delicious and packed full of lots of good stuff like vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that your body needs after fasting for 8 hours (or however long you've been asleep). They will stick with you a lot longer too, which means less mid-morning cravings and they will help those of us non-morning people to wake up out of our walking slumbers.
So, to make it even easier for you, here is what I like to put in my smoothies:
- I always start with an avocado or a banana. Back when I couldn't have bananas, I used avocados, which are good because they are a healthy fat and they also make your smoothie have a delicious creamy texture. Now, I will switch them in and out with the occasional banana because my body isn't as sensitive to sugar (bananas naturally are a high glycemic fruit) first thing in the morning anymore and they are good for potassium.
- Then, I add frozen berries for taste as well as to add a cold temperature without having to use ice. I usually use strawberries or blueberries (both low glycemic fruits).
- If I am not using a protein powder that also contains greens, I will add a handful of spinach or kale to get some fiber and plant-based protein.
- Then, I will add a scoop or two of a low sugar, high protein, plant-based protein powder. Some of my favorites are Nuzest, Vega One and Orgain.
- Finally, depending on what I am feeling like at that time, I may add some extras like maca (for hormonal balance), cinnamon (for blood sugar control), pumpkin seeds (for an immune system boost) or cacao powder (for a little energy kick).
- Then, top it off with a non-dairy milk like almond milk, cashew milk or my favorite of late - Ripple, a plant-based milk - and you are good to go!
2. Acai bowl
If you've ever been to a healthy smoothie chain and had an acai bowl, you already know what I'm talking about. And if you haven't, well then... you're welcome. Because this is about to become one of your most favorite things.
The basis of the Acai bowl is of course, acai berries - which are packed with antioxidants and amino acids that help boost your metabolism, your immune system and your energy levels. You can use a pre-made smoothie pack like this or make your own by blending an acai powder with bananas, almond milk and ice. Then, it's game on from there! Pour the mixture into a bowl and top it with whatever you like - banana slices, berries, granola, coconut shavings, chia seeds, kiwi, cocoa nibs, peanut butter, honey or whatever your heart desires! It's like a trip to the fro-yo store... but healthier.
3. Avocado toast
Oh, avocado toast... how my mouth waters just at the thought of thee. Avocados are a bit of a "superfood" in their own right (even if they haven't officially earned the name) because they are loaded with vitamins and minerals, are high in monounsaturated fat (the good kind), are high in fiber and are packed with antioxidants. Plus, they just taste good.
So, for a super easy and delicious breakfast, grab your favorite gluten-free bread (I like Canyon Bakehouse), toast it up and then top it with sliced or mashed avocado. Then, experiment with the kind of toppings you like best. Some personal favorite combinations include red pepper flakes/sea salt/olive oil/lemon juice; garlic/butter/sea salt/pepper or hard boiled eggs/green onions/pepper.
4. Hard boiled eggs
If you're not allergic to eggs or on a vegan diet, eggs are still a great breakfast option. The key is just to make sure that you are buying eggs that are organic and free range (be careful, because "cage free" doesn't always mean they are able to roam free) and come from chickens that were not given antibiotics or hormones. The very best way to do this is to buy your eggs from a local farmer at a farmers market or produce stand. But, you can usually find clean options in the grocery store as well.
Hard boil some eggs up ahead of time and they will be ready to go for a quick breakfast, as well as a great go-to protein-packed afternoon snack. To "beef up" your breakfast, enjoy the eggs with a piece of gluten free toast, some greens or an avocado.
5. Pancakes! (or waffles... or donuts...)
Yes! You can still have breakfast goodies like donuts, waffles and pancakes! But... you do have to make them yourself. Although there are some decent brands of gluten-free goodies on the market, most of them are still going to contain ingredients like canola oil, preservatives and sugar. So, the best way to ensure you are eating a clean and healthy breakfast, is to make them yourself, so you know exactly what's in there.
There are TONS of recipes on Pinterest for "clean" donuts, waffles and pancakes (in fact, I have an entire section of just donut recipes on my Healthy Recipes board), so have fun and try a bunch until you find which one(s) you like best! The key here will be to use gluten-free flour alternatives like almond flour or coconut flour, sugar alternatives like stevia or coconut sugar and in many of them, dairy alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk. You can also make them healthier by skipping the store-bought pancake syrup and topping them with peanut/almond butter, jam, honey or pure maple syrup (just be mindful of the sugar) instead.
There you have it... your breakfast problem solved! Enjoy!
And remember, until next time... keep your worries tiny and your dreams BIG!
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