Breakfast Of Champions
September 24th to 30th is Better Breakfast Week. Some people, including many health professionals, nutritionists and dieticians, firmly believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Follow some of my tips and guidelines to get the best possible start to your day...
You may have heard the saying “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper”.
The theory is that a hearty, healthy breakfast will help start your day the optimal way by replenishing energy stores and discouraging you from hitting the vending machine or corner shop mid-morning.
'Breakfast’ is so-called because it literally means to ‘break’ the ‘fast’ – most of us sleep for around seven or eight hours every night, and by the morning we need an energy boost; preferably slow-release energy food to line our stomachs until lunchtime and help keep us both mentally and physically alert.
Perhaps you are one of many who find it hard to resist the traditional ‘full English’, a platter of fried eggs, bacon, sausages and all the trimmings, shiny with grease and washed down with gallons of strong sugary tea – certainly heavy on calories, very filling and arguably the best known cure for a hangover. Consuming such a breakfast regularly would obviously scupper any sensible diet.
Or are you someone who simply isn't hungry in the mornings? Not necessarily a bad thing, unless it tempts you to fill up on 'empty calories' before lunch.
So what are the best breakfasts?
There are plenty of different things you can do to get a healthy, nutritious breakfast, a small selection of which are included at the end of this article, but whether you are a devout breakfaster or someone who tends to skip breakfast, there are some suggestions here to suit every appetite and lifestyle and ensure you stay firmly ‘on plan’.
Ideally, breakfast should be low in added sugar (the majority of packaged cereals contain large amounts of added sugar – exceptions include porridge oats and Shredded Wheat, and you can always add a drizzle of honey or sliced fruit or berries to these for a healthier, sweetened variation). Choose something high in both fibre and protein – again, many cereals do provide a good high-fibre option, with various added vitamins and minerals which the manufacturers are naturally keen to publicise, however these should be compared against its other ingredients. We Brits spend in excess of £1 billion a year on breakfast cereals, and the choice is vast. However, a recent report conducted by consumer group Which? found that “31 of the bestselling cereals had more than four teaspoons of sugar per serving – that’s more than a bowl of chocolate ice cream.”
Wholegrain cereals, healthier brands of granola, and muesli (typically containing nuts, seeds, oats and/or raisins) are generally healthy but don’t overfill your bowl and remember to use skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, or alternatively unsweetened soya milk. A ‘big’ breakfast is not necessarily a good thing – there’s no need to gorge. Nuts, dairy, eggs and whole grains help boost the protein content, helping you feel fuller for longer – high-fibre foods will also have this effect, with the added benefit of aiding digestion. Poached or scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with a small glass of fresh orange, apple or pineapple juice is one example of a balanced breakfast and only takes a few minutes to prepare. See our recipes below for more inspiration!
Tropical Fresh Fruit, Yoghurt and Granola
50ml low fat natural yoghurt
1 kiwi fruit
¼ medium pineapple
Method: Crumble the granola into a glass or a breakfast bowl, pour over the yoghurt and top with the cut up fruit.
Fruit & Bran Granola with Seeds
120ml skimmed, semi-skimmed or soya milk
5g sliced almonds
30g porridge oats
½ tsp vanilla essence
5g dried apple
5g dried apricots
5g dried banana
- Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4/180C
- Combine almonds, flaxseed, oats and honey in a bowl and mix well
- Spread evenly onto a baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes
- Stir well and bake again for 5-10 minutes until golden brown
- Tip the crunchy granola into a bowl and place the dried fruit over
- Mix the vanilla and the milk in a separate measuring jug and pour over the fruit and granola
Poached Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Spinach
40g smoked salmon
2 medium eggs
1 handful fresh spinach
10g pine nuts
2tbsp white wine vinegar
- Heat a pan of water on the stove and add the vinegar to it
- Crack the eggs into small cups, poachers or ramekins and gently lower them into the boiling water
- Poach for 2-3 minutes, depending how soft you like your eggs
- While the eggs are poaching, place the fresh spinach into a medium hot frying pan with a splash of oil
- Cook the spinach for 2-3 minutes while constantly moving it. When wilted, season with a little sea salt and pepper.
- Drain the eggs in some kitchen roll. To serve, first place the spinach on the plate, top with the smoked salmon and finally top it all off with the poached eggs. Sprinkle with pine nuts to finish