On most weekday mornings my vegan breakfast is a blur. A fuzzy, half-awake, cobbled together layout of grab and go ingredients that I've come to depend on. What I call breakfast becomes smashed between all the other orderly things that must get done before the real day begins.
But despite the chaotic exterior - I love morning. And amidst the messiness of my AM routine I can always spot very brief glimmers of "morning Zen." A sip of chilled green juice as a sunbeam hits my face. A yawning kitty stretching her paw across her snail-curled fuzzy body. The scent of just-brewed espresso that makes my husband's nose sniff in delight.
Then snap! - those moments end as quickly as they began. Reality kicks in and by the time I sit down with my vegan patchwork of AM eats, mentally, I've skipped breakfast and already have my mind on the projects and to-do lists for the day. Sound familiar?..
How to Succeed in Breakfast Without Really Trying. Weekday breakfasts don't have to be long, traditional or carefully constructed to be effective and serve their purpose of infusing energy into your cells - both physically and mentally. Here are eight tips for how I get the most wellness bang for my buck in the morning. And my recipe for superfood toast...
First a quick recipe from the cover photo.
1 slice whole grain bread
1 Tbsp maple almond butter
3/4 banana, very thinly sliced
sprinkle of chia seeds
sprinkle of raw cacao nibs
Also, the recipe for my Apple Peanut Butter Banana Shake is on Family Kitchen. (photo shown at top) Also try my green smoothies.
How to Succeed in Breakfast Without Really Trying - 8 Tips
1. Don't Skip It.
First off, don't do it. Don't skip breakfast. For me, skipping breakfast is the worst thing I can do for my day. If I have time to exit my PJ's, put both socks on my feet, find my shoes, feed the cat and find my husband's keys - I can certainly squeeze in a few minutes to get some healthy food into my system.
2. Split "Breakfast" into Sections.
I'm not a heavy all-at-once breakfast eater - but I am a breakfast eater. Traditional "breakfast" is usually a hearty spread of food - with a beverage - served on a plate. At a table. With silverware. If this works for you - GREAT! But I've found that this traditional style does not work for me (more on personal energy levels in #8.)
So I split my breakfast into mini meals throughout the morning. Usually something really hydrating first, then something a bit more fiber-ful later.
3. Rise, Hydrate and Boost.
Break the fast. I like to say, "break the fast by hydrating first." Not an hour after you wake up, but right when you wake up. My first beverage is usually something low in sugar like coconut water, green juice or water with lemon in it. You'll never see me chugging a tall glass of OJ first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Hydrating upon rising is my secret to staying hydrated all day long. If I don't hydrate early on I feel like I am playing catch-up all day long and then drinking too much liquid with my meals can interrupt digestion.
So I rise, hydrate first and then I can focus on boosting my blood sugar with fiber and nutrient-rich foods.
4. Defy "Breakfast" - and redefine what it means to you.
Like I said, a swanky, sit-down "traditional" breakfast can be quite a lot of swallow on a weekday morning (no pun intended!) So redefine what breakfast means to you - in a way that it will meet your personal energy needs.
"Breakfast" can be in the form of a light bite or nutrient-rich drink. I'm a big fan of smoothies and juices. Even a simple nutrient-dense beverage can flip on my "on" switch for the day. Then later on in the morning I will usually add some fiber-rich nibbles. Maybe some almond butter superfood toast (recipe at top) with cacao nibs, banana and chia seeds. Or a small bowl of oatmeal or farro with hemp seeds and non-dairy milk. A soy yogurt parfait. Or even something as simple as a small bowl of raw nuts and berries. Or a few raw Cheezy Quackers to compliment a smoothie.
For me, light, split-throughout-the-morning breakfast is my favorite way to eat when my schedule allows. Then by lunchtime, I power down a bit to take a nice 30 minute break. I have grown accustomed to sitting on the floor. In a sunbeam. With my kitty by my side. Lunch and dinner is my chance to fill up on fiber and protein rich foods, aka must-chew-a lot foods.
5. Be Stocked.
Mornings are all about routine. If you can make sure you are well stocked up on toothpaste, shampoo and clean socks for your morning routine - you can stock up on healthy breakfast supplies too. Breakfast sets the nutrition tone of the day - so making sure you add plenty of nutrient-dense vegan foods to whatever you make is a must. And by nutrient dense foods I mean whole foods like grains, fruits, seeds, nuts and maybe even veggies. And especially a few superfoods.
Superfoods, to me, is a broad term for ingredients that really pack a nutritional punch per serving. Chia seeds, ground flax seeds, cacao nibs, nutritional yeast, goji berries, acai, fresh berries and many more. Try chia seeds over top oatmeal and cacao nibs on almond butter toast.
If you want to succeed in breakfast the most important step is to stock up on the healthy vegan foods and superfoods you want to eat (and can realistically prepare on a busy morning) for breakfast.
6. Share the Love. Or savor the quiet.
Eating breakfast with someone you love is a happy thing. But eating in solitude is also pretty wonderful. On most mornings, I love being able to make my husband a quick bite to eat as he whooshes out the door. I can always tell that after taking just a few minutes to gobble down his food he feels perkier and more energized to face a busy day.
I've also found that breakfast calms the nerves. Powering through a chaotic morning with your tank on empty may be easy for some people - but you'll probably be stretching your body's stress response to its max - and by the end of the crazy-busy-zone you will crash and feel spent. And probably starving. In which you just may proceed to scarf down whatever healthy (or not so healthy) food is easiest to make. Or find. Been there, done that, and it always feels awful!
Share your quick morning breakfast with someone you love. Even a kitty cat or doggy is perfectly lovely AM company. Pets look forward to breakfast too! If you eat alone, take that quiet time to really find some Zen. Take advantage of the quiet! You can use the rest of your day to connect with others.
7. What to Eat?
So, what do I eat? Well that question is different for everyone. You probably know what your personal favorite breakfast foods are. I know some people who can't start the day without a bowl of oatmeal. Others need their tall latte. And some people like me start to feel grumpy if they don't get a chilled swig of fresh-pressed juice. Take what you already know you love and do two things: 1) maximize that recipe nutritionally. 2) Make it easier to enjoy on a busy morning.
If you don't like oatmeal, don't eat it just because you think you should. Healthy habits won't stick if you don't find a way to enjoy them.
If you are an oatmeal (or hot or cold cereal) person, add some superfoods to it. For hot cereal, you can experiment with making a big batch on Monday to heat in small batches throughout the week. Yes this is an extra step, but it will help prevent you from skipping breakfast or eating unhealthy convenience foods.
If you are a "Really, I just need my latte" person, well keep that routine, but add some simple nutrition to it. Add in a handful of raw nuts. A nice serving of fresh fruit. Or if you have time, do a small bowl of healthy cereal or granola (read those labels.) Or even better - whip up some super fast superfood toast. Recipe at top.
If you are a smoothie person, you can easily boost the nutrition in your blend by adding superfoods and nutrient-smart add-ins. Berries, flax seeds, greens, chia, omega-rich vegan oils, vegan yogurt and even vegan smoothie powders which can add a nice boost of vitamins, minerals, fiber, probiotics and greens to each sip. Vega has a few wonderful vegan/raw powders - and other brands as well.
Try some of my favorite vegan green smoothie recipes!
8. Understand Your Personal Energy - and make it work for you.
Are you a morning person who gets a rush of energy when first waking or does it take you until later in the day to really feel at your most revved-up state? This is important to your eating style. Someone like me thrives on smaller mini meals in the morning and larger, sit-down and chill-out meals in the evening. You might be the complete opposite!
Redefine what an "energy-aiding breakfast" means to you - learn how to make your AM meal work for the productivity of your day, rather than against it. Breakfast should help you manage stress - not create more of it.
For me, I know that I will never be a "sit down to a long drawn out breakfast" in the morning person. A heavy AM meal would only slow me down, relaxing my energy during the time of day when I can be most productive - in turn stressing me out. So I leave big lazy morning meals for the weekends. Knowing my own energizing breakfast style helps me nurture and channel my energy levels throughout the day.
You Goal this Week:
* Decipher what your personal energy style is in the mornings - and the rest of the day.
* Stock up on your favorite healthy breakfast foods and superfoods.
* Make breakfast a priority in your AM routine and make breakfast happen.
Now your turn, what tips do you have for healthy AM eats and to really maximize your energy in the morning and throughout the day - all while maintaining stress and loading up on nutrients?
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