Monday, February 8, 2010

Breakfasts of Champions!

I have this problem of understanding what to eat for breakfast. Apparently, a bowl of cereal is not really what you're looking for in a breakfast. Even those healthier breakfast cereals don't give you all of what you need to sustain you until lunch. They may give you a serving or two of whole-grains and some fiber, but you don't get the proteins or fats. In Michael Pollen's awesome little book: Food Rules, he says: "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper." I tested this lesson with my instructor who agreed. You want to get as much of your nutrition as you can for breakfast, especially protein, and decrease that amount over the course of the day. Have yourself a light dinner that contains some good complex carbohydrates to help you sleep. Dr. Sears has a great article explaining what foods are "sleepers" and "wakers". Basically, protein is hard to digest and you don't want to eat it before bed. You want foods that contain tryptophan, the amino acid that makes serotonin, which helps you sleep.

You want a balanced breakfast that is nutrient dense, contains a good amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, some healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, peanut butter, almonds, flax seed oil, salmon), and as many vitamins and minerals as you can squeeze in. I have been trying to get more complete breakfasts that contain more protein into my day. It's hard when you are a busy, working mom in school. Here is my list of breakfasts that I rotate throughout the week:

  • Parfait + hard-boiled egg: 1/2 cup of vanilla goat milk yogurt, 1/4 c. homemade granola, 1/4 of a banana or apple slices on top, I hard-boil an egg while I am in the shower and bring all of this to work and eat it when I get there
  • Smoothie: I have a high metabolism, so I make my smoothies with "the works" to get me through: 1 banana, 1/4 cup yogurt, scoop of whey protein powder (18 g of protein), 1 scoop of Green Vibrance, 1/4 cup of frozen wild blueberries, a splash of unsweetened Trader Joe's Whole Grain Drink (or your favorite milk beverage)
  • Breakfast wrap: quick! scramble an egg, toss in a little goat cheese, handful of spinach, and a splash of hot sauce. Throw on any veggies that might be left over from last-nights dinner (steamed broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus). Wrap it in a whole-grain tortilla and you are out the door! No time? Grab the egg and other ingredients, throw into a tupperware, and microwave that egg at the office. Not ideal, but at least it's better than a danish!
  • The Salmon: I have fallen in love with this breakfast. The Grindstone Bakery in Santa Rosa makes KILLER gluten-free breads. I like the sprouted seed spelt loaf. Toast a slice, spread on a little layer of chevere, load it up with some wild pacific smoked salmon and capers. Add a piece of seasonal fruit and you are stoked!
  • Oatmeal with "the works": I love me a big delicious bowl of oatmeal! I like to use Bob's Redmill Quick Cooking Oatmeal because it acts like instant. You can really just add the hot water and let it sit and it will cook. I load mine up with toppings like: shredded coconut, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cranberries or raisins, a little maca powder, and even add a scoop of whey protein powder! You get plenty of good fats, whole grains, protein, and vitamins, that you may not need a snack after this one!
  • Snacks: I have a high metabolism and I typically have to have a snack so I don't find myself starving (storing fat mode) by lunch time. If you are eating well, snacks are important in maintaining healthy weight. If you don't consume enough good fats, or eat frequently enough, your body starts storing fat because it doesn't know when food might be coming again. Snack on slices of whole grain toast with raw almond butter, or an apple and handful of almonds, or raw vegetables and tahini dip.
One key ingredient to the healthy breakfast rotation is homemade granola. This is a great topper for yogurt, great way to grab a snack, and my 2-year old can't get enough of it! He munches on it plain, will eat it with yogurt, in milk, or however he can get it. You can keep this stored in an air-tight container for weeks.


  • 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips, (see Ingredient Note) or flakes
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 275°F.
  2. Combine oats, coconut, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Combine syrup, water and oil in a medium bowl or large measuring cup and pour over the oat mixture; stir until well combined. Spread the mixture into a large (12-by-15-inch) roasting pan or large rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir, and continue baking until golden brown and beginning to crisp, about 45 minutes more. Stir in cranberries and raisins. Let cool completely before storing.

Note: the original recipe was from Eating Well Magazine, November/December 2008. I modified the recipe to omit the brown sugar, and replaced the canola oil with coconut oil. The maple syrup is sweet enough for my family, and you can add some extra agave or stevia if you need a little extra sweetness.

Want to keep all of these breakfast items stocked in your refrigerator? Here is the shopping list:
  • One dozen eggs (preferably pastured, grass fed)
  • Large container of favorite yogurt (mine is Redwood Hill Farms Vanilla goat yogurt)
  • Seasonal fruit (click here for list)
  • 1 package of frozen organic wild blueberries
  • Whey protein powder (I use the Berkeley Bowl brand)
  • Green powder (optional)
  • Unsweetened coconut (shredded or chips)
  • Trader Joe's Whole Grain Drink (or milk, almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk)
  • Loaf of whole-grain bread
  • Whole-grain tortillas (I use Santa Fe, but there are a lot of whole-grain wraps out there)
  • Spreadable cheese (I like Redwood Hill Farms chevre. I use goat because it's easier to digest and I love goats)
  • Spinach
  • Wild smoked salmon
  • Quick-cook oatmeal (I love Bob's Redmill)
  • Nuts: sunflower, walnuts, almonds (keep these on hand for snacks, granola, and oatmeal)
  • Seeds: chia (very high in Omega 3's and good fats), sunflower, pumpkin (keep on hand)
  • Dried fruits: cranberries, raisins, dates (keep on hand)
  • Maple syrup
  • Regular rolled oats (buy in bulk, you will need 5 cups for the granola)
  • Coconut oil (please read post on fats as to why you should use coconut oil)
Try and keep all the items above stocked. Whenever you need a nutritious quick breakfast, you are guaranteed to have something good to eat! I usually make a batch of granola once every 2-3 weeks.

One last note. If you find yourself running late and completely out of time, you can settle for the Protein Plate from Starbucks. You will get the protein you need, whole grains, and fats. However, nothing is organic, the peanut butter has a little sugar, and the bagel probably does too. But, as a last resort this is a totally reasonable option.


  1. I love this post! I am always eating non-cereal foods for breakfast and it usually garners odd but often jealous looks from coworkers. We can eat anything for breakfast! Not just cereal, yogurt or eggs.

    I made a post on gluten free breakfasts not too long ago, here's a link:

    See you in class!

    Owner, Balanced Bites Holistic Nutrition & Wellness
    C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach
    Holistic Nutrition Educator student @ Bauman College, Berkeley, CA

    Find Balanced Bites around the web:

  2. I love these breakfast ideas! As a replacement for the quick oats you could throw steel cut oats in the slow cooker over night.