I don’t know about you but breakfast is my favourite meal of day. Sometimes I wake up hungry and eat straight away, other times I’ll wait for my hunger to build and maybe squeeze in a quick workout, a bit of work or a morning stroll at Port Hercules before making myself something indulgent.
Long before I moved to Monaco, breakfast during the week would consist of whole grain toast, low-fat breakfast cereal with yogurt and fruits and pancakes, croissants or waffles on the weekend. I thought the weekends were quite decadent but that my weekday breakfasts were super-healthy and made up a good balance.
Little did I know that what I thought was a “healthy breakfast” actually involved a mix of sugar, preservatives, artificial colourings and artificial flavors and that it was only a matter of time before it would create havoc on my health.
When I took the radical step to cut out all processed foods, gluten, dairy and refined sugar out of my diet completely, breakfast became my most challenging meal to put together. I had no idea how I could possibly make something that had some form of flavour, that wouldn’t take ages to prepare and that was free from all the crap I had been eating before.
Thankfully I’m pretty stubborn and I love my food too much to eat anything that is short of delicious, so slowly but surely I started learning new ways of turning my favourite meal into something that would excite my taste buds and be nutritious as well.
Breakfast is often the first meal I tackle with clients who want to “cut the crap” and start eating healthy. What you eat for your morning meal will often set a precedent for how you will nourish yourself the rest of the day.
Here are six simple tips to get you started. You’ll find all the ingredients at Solis Bio below the market in La Condamine or at TO BE Monaco.
1. Eat real food, mostly plants. I know this can be a little challenging for breakfast but an easy way of doing this is to throw in a handful of spinach into your omelette or your smoothie, or by adding some berries to your porridge. I also love using sweet potato and pumpkin in my breakfast recipes. My sweet potato pancakes are quite a hit. You can find the recipe on my website www.maddywell.com
2. Go easy on the fruits. Yes fruits are plants and yes they are healthy but they contain quite a bit of sugar and you don’t want your breakfast to be a sugar bomb. Stock up on berries (la Condamine market always has a good selection) which are low in sugar and high in antioxidants that fight inflammation making them a good alternative. A handful is enough.
3. Be smart about your carbs. You want your carbs to be high in fibre but low GI (the GlycemicIndex ranks how carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels) so that the energy is released into your bloodstream slowly. This way you aren’t left wanting to chew off your left arm by 10 am. Oats, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and wild rice are good alternatives.
4. Integrate protein. Protein is essential at every meal, including breakfast! Some of my preferred sources are chia seeds because they contain all 9 essential amino acids – these are the ones your body can’t produce itself so it’s essential you get them from your diet. Hemp, flax and sunflower seeds, as well as almonds and peanuts are other great sources of vegan protein. Pasture raised eggs and smoked salmon are some of my “non-vegan” faves!
5. Add healthy fats. This is worthy for every meal but especially for breakfast as healthy fats are one of the most beneficial group of nutrients for your brain. Omega 3 fatty acids can also help lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and depression. Good sources of healthy fats are avocados, chia seeds (these babies are a superfood!) pecans and walnuts. You’ll also find healthy fats in wild salmon.
6. Eat warming foods in winter and cooling foods in summer. Our bodies are best when we follow the cycle of the seasons when it comes to our eating. Colder months call for warmer breakfasts such as porridges, baked eggs and sweet potato pancakes whereas summers calls for smoothiea and colder breakfast bowls
Here is one of my popular seasonal recipes, a perfect mix of the ingredients I’ve mentioned which will set you up for a productive day! All of my recipes are made from whole foods (nothing processed) and are gluten free, mostly vegan and refined sugar free.
MaddyWell’s Banana, Chia & Coconut Porridge
Fact: Oats are among the healthiest grains on earth – naturally gluten-free, they’re a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and they contain beta-glucan fibre.
Studies show that consuming 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23 percent. Oats have a low GI so energy is released slowly into the bloodstream making you feel fuller for longer.
Serves 1. Ingredients:
½ cup of oats
2 tbsp of dried coconut shavings
1 tbsp of coconut oil
2 tbsp of chia seeds
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 unsalted, unroasted almonds
1 cup of almond or coconut milk
Dried cranberries (unsweetened)
Almond or peanut butter
Dried coconut flakes
1. Start cooking the oats in the milk with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil.
2. Put the banana, chia seeds, coconut, remaining coconut oil, cinnamon and almonds in the blender. Blend until smooth. You can add a bit of water if needed.
3. Add the banana, chia and coconut mixture to your oats and mix well. If the mixture starts drying up, add water until your oats soften and the mixture is warm.
Serve with your favourite toppings.
Article first published October 29, 2017.Maddy is the Founder of Nutrition For Naughty People, aimed at helping individuals find a better balance between the things that keep them healthy and the things that make them happy! Any questions?