Healthy Breakfasts for Different Diets
Whether you want to build muscle, torch fat, embrace your inner caveman or quit meat altogether, it pays to make breakfast the most important meal of the day. Skip the cereal and toast and kick-start your morning with these mighty recipes.
Baked Eggs for the Paleo Diet
Based on the foods our Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed before the advent of farming, this eating plan excludes entire food groups, including dairy and grains. Supporters claim that “going Paleo” can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
Fed up with mental fog clouding your mornings? This caveman-inspired recipe contains high levels of omega 3, which helps to improve cognitive function, as well a dose of harissa, an aromatic chilli paste used in north African and Middle Eastern dishes that’s guaranteed to fire you up for the day ahead.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1tbsp coconut oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 red peppers, cut into chunks
- 2 yellow peppers, cut into chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1tsp harissa paste
- Pinch of smoked paprika
- 400g canned chopped tomatoes
- 100g baby spinach leaves
- 1tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 8 eggs
- Black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas 2-3. Warm the coconut oil in a frying pan and add the onion, peppers, garlic and spices. Cook slowly for ten minutes until the peppers are soft. Add the canned tomatoes and simmer the mixture for a minute or two, or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the spinach and parsley. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish or individual ramekins. Hollow out some space in the vegetable mixture and break the eggs into the hole. Season with pepper and bake for six to eight minutes until the whites are set but the yolks are still creamy.
Recipe from The Paleo Healing Bible by nutritional therapist Christine Bailey (Apple Press, £9.99), buy on Amazon
Mushroom and Tofu Scrambled Eggs for the Sirtfood Diet
Sirtfoods contain nutrients that activate your sirtuin genes, which regulate metabolism to stimulate fat burning and promote muscle gain. The diet includes them in every meal, and claims that you can lose up to 7lb (3.2kg) of body fat during its initial seven-day fasting phase.
It’s 2016’s trendiest new eating plan – endorsed by everyone from Olympic sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie to UFC champ Conor McGregor – but the good news is you’re probably eating sirtfoods already without realising. Case in point: this delicious mushroom and tofu scramble, whose active sirt ingredients include cupboard staples such as turmeric, red onion, parsley and chilli.
Ingredients (serves 1)
- 100g extra-firm tofu
- 1tsp ground turmeric
- 1tsp mild curry powder
- 20g kale, roughly chopped
- 1tsp extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced
- 50g mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 5g parsley, finely chopped
Wrap the tofu in kitchen paper and place something heavy on it to help drain the moisture. Mix the turmeric and curry powder and add a little water until it forms a light paste. Steam the kale for two to three minutes. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion, chilli and mushrooms for two to three minutes until they start to brown. Crumble the tofu into bite-size pieces and add to the pan, then add the spice paste and mix. Cook for two to three minutes until the tofu starts to brown. Add the kale and cook for one more minute. Add the parsley and serve.
Recipe from The Sirtfood Diet by Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten (Yellow Kite, £7.99), buy on Amazon
Breakfast Burrito for a Vegan Diet
Vegans abstain from eating any form of animal produce, including eggs and dairy as well as meat. Studies have shown that this plant-based approach can improve weight loss and help combat high blood pressure and heart disease.
RECOMMENDED: 3 Successful Sporting Vegans
No animals were harmed in the making of this vegan-friendly breakfast burrito, which provides 18g of muscle-building protein – more than a pint of milk – via hefty servings of beans (black and kidney), along with a hit of immunity-enhancing tomatoes. And even if you do eat meat, it’s tasty enough to tempt you away for a morning.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 2tbsp olive oil
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 140g button mushrooms, sliced
- 1tsp dried sage, crumbled
- ½tsp sea salt
- ½tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 200g cooked black beans
- 200g cooked kidney beans
- 2x 25cm wholewheat tortillas
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 avocado, halved, seeded, and sliced
- 4tbsp prepared salsa
Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook for two to three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sage, salt and black pepper, and cook for two more minutes. Stir in the beans and cook, turning and pressing the beans to break them up and brown them, for about five minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Lay each tortilla on a plate and spoon half the mushroom filling down the centre of each, then divide the tomato, avocado and salsa between them. Roll the burritos by folding two sides in first and then folding one long side inwards.
Recipe from Plant-Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka (DK, £14.99), buy on Amazon
Salmon Omelette for a Low-Carb Diet
The absence of carb-heavy foods such as bread, rice and pasta in this lean eating plan causes your insulin levels to drop, which allows you to burn fat efficiently rather than store it.
Struggling to keep carbs off your plate? Omelettes are a versatile brekkie option, packed with filling protein to help you avoid the dreaded mid-morning slump. This recipe from nutritionist Jono Smith (foodforfitness.co.uk) also includes fibre-rich spinach and focus-boosting salmon to help curb sugar cravings.
Ingredients (serves 1)
- 1 large whole egg
- 3 large egg whites
- 40ml skimmed milk
- 40g spinach
- Light cooking spray
- 30g smoked salmon
Slice the salmon and leave it at room temperature. On a medium-low heat, wilt the spinach in a dry, non-stick pan. Remove the spinach, drain and place to one side. Add the eggs and milk to a bowl and whisk. Coat your non-stick pan with cooking spray and turn up the heat to high. Pour the eggs into the pan, reduce the heat to medium and slowly mix the eggs until they begin to cook. Add the wilted spinach and salmon and continue mixing until the eggs are cooked through. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste, then serve.
Chocolate Blueberry Porridge for a Bulking Diet
There are variations, but virtually all muscle-building diets have two things in common: shedloads of protein – at least 2g per kg of your bodyweight daily – and lots of carbohydrates to help fuel new tissue growth.
RECOMMENDED: Bulking to Build Muscle
This super-sized porridge recipe from Mishal Dosani (ownyourfitness.co.uk) doubles up as a perfect pre-gym snack, with the carbs from the oats helping to fuel your training and the antioxidants and caffeine from the berries and cacao giving you a sustained energy boost – perfect for a heavy weights session (or a lengthy commute to work).
Ingredients (serves 1)
- 1 serving of rolled oats
- 300ml milk
- 1 scoop of berry or chocolate whey protein powder
- 1tsp raw cacao powder
- 1tbsp cocoa nibs
- 1 handful of blueberries
Place your oats in a small to medium-sized saucepan, cover with milk and put on the hob. Make sure you’re constantly stirring your oats as you cook so they don’t burn or stick. While cooking, add your cacao powder and cocoa nibs. Once the oats have cooked through a little, but are still runny and fairly liquid, add the scoop of your chosen protein powder. Cook through for another minute, throw a handful of berries on top and serve.
More Healthy And Filling Breakfasts Worth Getting Up For
Breakfasts to fill you up and ward off hunger, help you load up on vitamins, or just get you out of the breakfast rut.
Stuck in a breakfast rut? Probably – a recent survey found that we’re creatures of culinary habit. Breakfast cereals are our most common choice with 59% regularly crunching a bowl of flakes, while 51% generally choose toast. You can do better than that! These bespoke breakfasts designed by experts provide the perfect fuel, nourishment, mix of nutrients – and flavour – for whatever you have planned post-petit déjeuner. Read on, and join the breakfast revolution.
Eat overnight oats before a day of hell at work
You know you probably won’t get much of a lunch or dinner thanks to a chaotic working day, so you have to pre-empt this nightmare with something that will help fuel you for as long as possible.
Start with overnight oats, says dietician Helen Bond. “The night before, place 30g oats in a bowl, mix in 100ml low-fat natural yoghurt, 50ml semi-skimmed milk and a teaspoon of cinnamon, then top with grated apple, a scattering of walnuts and a teaspoon of chia seeds. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge. Oats are low-GI, meaning they provide slowly released, sustainable energy – perfect for perking up flagging energy levels; the Alpha-linolenic acid in walnuts has a positive effect on blood pressure – good news for stress levels; apples add sweetness, along with a sprinkling of cinnamon to help curb a sweet tooth when biscuits come out in the meeting room, while chia seeds contain essential fatty acids as well as feel-full fibre and protein.”
Eat poached eggs, and grilled tomatoes and mushrooms before a day surrounded by evil snacks
You’re trying to lose weight and want something low in calories that will keep you full all morning so you can keep your hands out of the office biscuit tin.
“Forget diet cereals,” says nutritionist Amanda Ursell. “Go for two poached eggs with grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. That’s only 250 calories and research shows that a two-egg breakfast is particularly filling, not only keeping you satiated and helping you avoid snacking mid-morning, but also helping you to eat less at lunch time, a phenomenon that carries on through the day so that you have an effortless calorie deficit. The satiating effect appears to last for 36 hours.” The same can’t be said for a sad, dusty bowl of diet flakes.
Drink a smoothie before a day of indulgence
You’re getting ready for a day at the races. Think vast consumption of canapés, and a healthy flow of fizz all through the afternoon and evening. Breakfast has to provide a good grounding.
Nutritionist Amanda Hamilton recommends setting yourself up with a super smoothie. “Not only is it easily made and digested, it’s delicious, packed full with nutrients, and thanks to the protein content, it’s sustaining enough to take the edge off canapé cravings. Just blend a sliced banana, three quarters of a cup of Rhythm coconut kefir yoghurt – it’s bursting with probiotics to help you avoid getting bloated – plus a tablespoon of Sweet Freedom syrup or honey, half a handful of berries, half a teaspoon of grated ginger and a tablespoon of nut butter for protein.”
RECOMMENDED: Smoothie Recipes
Eat porridge before an epic training session
You’ve got a massive sporting day ahead, be it a very heavy cardio session at the gym, a hefty run or a leg-trembling cycle ride. Without the right fuel you’re going to be a mess.
“Full of slow-release carbs, porridge is the perfect way to start your day,” says Anita Bean, sports nutritionist and author of The Complete Guide To Sports Nutrition. “Blueberries are powerhouses of nutrients – rich in polyphenols and vitamin C, both of which help to increase exercise performance and promote speedy recovery. Make porridge with 50g rolled oats and 300ml milk, but cook in a handful of blueberries [it will turn a rich purple], stir in a pinch of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract if you fancy, top with a few extra blueberries, half a banana sliced and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. That will provide an impressive 18g of protein, and 70g of fuelling carbs.”
Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for a weekend treat
You want to take your time with a decadent weekend treat – but it needs to be one you won’t regret next time you try to do your belt up.
Nutritionist Ian Marber recommends getting your scramble on. “Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and a slice of granary or rye toast is the perfect weekend choice. The wholegrain bread evens out blood sugars to avoid energy dips, eggs are rich in protein, while salmon offers protein as well as omega-3 fats. Combined with the fibre in the toast, the energy they create together is slow-release, meaning that appetite is easily managed for a few hours afterwards.”
International Healthy Breakfasts
You know about the the full English, US pancakes and French pastries, but there are plenty of lesser-known global breakfast creations you could be getting your chops round…
Danish Ymerdrys on Ymer
Fans of the letter “Y”, rejoice! Ymerdrys is a mix of grated dark rye bread and a little brown sugar. Danes sprinkle it over a special yoghurt-like buttermilk product, Ymer, but you can use Greek yoghurt for a breakfast packed with fibre, healthy fats and protein. Yum!
Spanish Pan a la Catalana
Otherwise known as Pan con Tomate, pa amb tomàquet – or tomato bread. It’s just chargrilled crusty bread (sourdough is great) rubbed with fresh garlic and ripe tomato, then drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of salt. It can be eaten by itself, or topped with cheese, ham or sausage.
North African shakshuka
Dry-roast a quarter teaspoon of cumin seeds, add 90ml light olive oil and a chopped onion and sauté for 5mins. Add two chopped peppers, two teaspoons muscovado sugar, a bay leaf, some thyme, parsley and coriander and cook for 5-10mins. Add three chopped ripe tomatoes, a little saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook gently for 15 minutes, adding water so it stays like a passata. Make four wells and break an egg into each, cover and cook gently until the eggs are just set. Serve with a chunk of bread.
A warming bowl of porridge made with half water, half milk, a knob of butter, a sprinkle of brown sugar, a little grated nutmeg, and a few raisins or nuts on top. Served with a strong black coffee, and cod liver oil for omega-3s and vitamin D because it’s dark for months on end. You could swap for a teaspoon of chia seeds.
Bahamian grits and prawns
Make grits (or fine cornmeal or white polenta) according to the pack instructions and set aside. Fry prawns, chopped garlic and a sprinkle of smoked paprika in olive oil, add a knob of butter and cook for another minute, remove from the heat, add lemon juice and chopped parsley and mix with the grits. Eat on the beach. Oh, sorry.
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Laura Potter is an experienced writer and editor who contributed to Coach magazine in 2016. Laura specialises in health, nutrition, fitness and wellbeing, and has written for a wide range of publications including The Guardian's Saturday magazine, Women's Health UK, Men's Health UK, Stylist, Men's Fitness UK, Healthy magazine, Cosmo Body and Netdoctor.