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Break an egg

These simple nutritious breakfasts cook up quick to start your day right

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It’s “the most important meal of the day” but breakfast remains one of the most consistently overlooked meals in our daily routines. While there’s no shortage of reasons people skip it, Claire Johnson, a registered dietitian in Moncton, N.B., wants people to start their days on the right foot.

“Breakfast is absolutely the most important meal of the day, but despite all the talk around how important it is, it seems to be the meal people are willing to drop the fastest,” Johnson says.

“Research shows people who eat breakfast have better and more consistent energy levels all day. People who don’t eat breakfast tend to eat more at lunch and at suppertime, which can lead to making poor food choices along the way.”

Johnson says research shows we get key nutrients such as potassium, fibre, and vitamin D through breakfast foods, and all are harder to come by in other meals. “Whole foods tend to be a good way to start the day, including fruit and vegetables, whole grains and high protein foods,” she says. “Oatmeal is a wonderful breakfast option because it can be a vehicle for additional foods like yogurt, fruit, extra fibre, and milk.”

If you’re pressed for time, Johnson emphasizes that breakfast need not be complicated. Something as simple as a piece of fruit with toast, boiled eggs, or fruit and a handful of nuts can lead to better dietary choices all day. “And on the contrary, things like sugary cereals, Eggo waffles, and Nutella should be considered treats, and not breakfast staples,” she says.

Jennifer Hamm, a registered dietitian in Halifax, says breakfast can and should boast the same variety of food types that we routinely eat during lunch and supper. “With a lot of clients, I often suggest a breakfast parfait, with Greek yogurt or a different source of protein, a choice of fruit, and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds on top,” she says. “That way, you’re getting fibre, healthy fat, and protein all in one meal. And likewise, those same ingredients, using a liquid base other than juice, could be used in a smoothie with almond or peanut butter.”

If a cold breakfast isn’t for you, Hamm suggests starting the day with a hot bowl of oatmeal. “Instant oatmeal is something that has come a long way as there are some brands that add in fibre and protein to help make it more balanced,” she says. Or try steel-cut oats with fruit, seeds, nuts, and spices like cinnamon to add extra flavour. The oats’ rough texture means you digest them more slowly, and stay satisfied longer.

When picking an oatmeal, Hamm suggests choosing a brand offering four to six grams of fibre and an equal, or almost equal, amount of protein per serving. Ideally, that same oatmeal will include less than six grams of sugar per serving.

Despite the overall importance of a healthy, balanced breakfast, Johnson says many parents needlessly stress about whether or not their child eats breakfast. “I believe that kids are more in tune with their bodies than adults sometimes. Sometimes they’ll be hungry and sometimes they won’t be. At the end of the day, don’t stress too much if your kids skip a meal, but also remember that if you want to be sure they’re eating breakfast, the best way to ensure that is modelling good behaviour.”

East Coast Living