12 clean eating breakfast ideas
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Breakfast is by definition the first meal of the day. A healthy and sustaining breakfast is essential to a good start of the day and a comfortable morning. Yet, somehow, this is the meal that we spend the least time thinking about or preparing. So I’ve rounded up 12 clean eating breakfast ideas to make sure you can still run out the door while giving your body the goodness it deserves.
I used to hoover up sugary cereals or jam on toasts in lieu of breakfast. For years, I had to put up with the 10am-slump, where nothing but more food would get my foggy brain back into gear. Entered clean real food and a better understanding of the expression “You are what you eat”, and my breakfast will now happily fill me up until 12. And the first sign that my body needs to refuel is a natural hunger pang in the stomach.
A clean breakfast can be anything really, sweet or savory, liquid or solid, and as substantial as you need or want it to be. Be creative. Work with your taste buds. But as the majority of us have busy lifestyles, I’ve aimed at 12 suggestions that you can whip up in 5 minutes or less.
Grab-and-go clean breakfasts
No-frills, no-prep breakfasts can still just do the job. For the workaholics or the supermoms out there. Or for “those” mornings.
1. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits
Nuts and seeds are always great clean food to fall back on. They contain vitamins and minerals, fibers and enough good fat to keep you going all morning. To enjoy plain, roasted (with only a hint of salt added), creamed (if shop-bought, make sure nothing was added).
Dried fruits are also a good option, but team them up with a yogurt, nuts or seeds. Why? Simply because they contain a lot of sugar and will be quickly converted into glucose and absorbed by your body. To avoid the mid-morning slump, slow the glucose conversion down with healthy fat and/or proteins. Think of yogurt sprinkled with them, a trail mix or a snack bar (preferably home-made, so you know exactly what is inside).
2. Shop-bought clean breakfasts
The food industry is slowly but surely starting to cater for people that need clean, healthy convenience food. It is not impossible to find those options in the shops these days. Be very vigilant with any added ingredients, especially sugar and preservatives:
- Plain yogurt with healthy muesli or granola
- Clean cereal bars
- Clean shakes
- Clean smoothies (to team up with nuts or seeds)
Another option for a grab-and-go clean breakfast is to prepare it ahead of time.
3. Energy bars
… and other energy balls are all the rage and are dead easy to make. They contain few ingredients, using either the fat content of nuts or a “sticky” seed like flax or chia to bind it all together. Some require a little bit of baking, some none. There are so many recipes out there, it’s just a case of taking your pick.
They’re filling, highly portable and will keep well. So, it’s worth preparing a batch once a week to have them at hand, for an on-the-go breakfast, a snack or a lunchbox filler.
I’m not talking about industrial, sticky-sweet blueberry muffins here. But the lovely home-made ones which you can fill with healthy, real ingredients. Here again, there are lots of recipes out there. Just make sure they use whole grain flours, or almond flour, or something like sweet potatoes as the main ingredient. And are sweetened with honey or fruits, rather than sugar.
We’re a bit restricted in what I can bake at home, for health reasons, so I use a basic mix like this. I’m no baker, but I can still whip up a batch of savory or cinnamon muffins in no time and with minimal effort. And the kids can pack those in their lunchboxes. Lunch sorted.
5. Paleo muffins
Also known as egg muffins, or crust-less quiches in my book. But whatever they’re called, they tick all the boxes of clean food. They’re versatile and easy to make:
- Grease a muffin tray,
- Add some ingredients of your choice (we like chopped peppers and onions, with paprika and a bit of cheese on top),
- Whisk some eggs with a bit of milk and pour the mixture into your muffin tray,
- Cook in the oven until the egg is set.
They’re great for using leftovers too and will keep a few days in the fridge. I’ve frozen batches before without hassles. You’ll find loads of ideas on the web for different fillings. Just make sure to avoid processed meat and other industrial food though.
Clean breakfasts ready in 5 minutes
These are for when you have a bit more time in the morning, but not that much time either. Or if you want something fresh. Or warm.
They’re my go-to breakfast these days, I must admit. Usually fried in coconut oil with some tomatoes on the side. The kids like theirs scrambled or into an “egg pancake”. [2 eggs, beaten with a dash of milk and cooked in a pan, then used as a base for any filling they want, and rolled up like a pancake].
Frittatas or omelets are also a good idea. You can use your leftovers or fresh vegetables to add different flavors.
With endless recipes on the net, and the possibility to add just whatever you want, smoothies are quick to make, versatile, and highly portable. You can make them as rich and filling or light as your appetite dictates first thing in the morning. The only thing you need is a blender of sorts.
What takes the longest, at least for me, is to pick the recipe!
8. Fresh juice
I’m referring to the ones made using a slow juicer, also called masticating juicer (this is the one I use at home). They retain all the vitamins and enzymes but remove the fibers. Although not as filling as smoothies, those juices are full of goodness. They can just hit the spot when you’re not feeling up for anything more substantial.
They need to be drunk quickly to make the most of the enzymes and the vitamins, so portability is limited. But as they only take a few seconds to drink, that isn’t really an issue.
9. Porridge and oatmeal
This is an old favorite, for reason. Admittedly, it uses grains, which can be heavily refined. Stick with whole grain to enjoy all the goodness of a cereal that won’t have been heavily processed, complete with fibers, proteins, vitamins and all.
Don’t limit yourself to oats, try a few other grains if you feel like it. Millet and quinoa come unprocessed and are a good source of protein, for example.
Their only downside: the cooking time. The “instant” varieties are chopped or ground, refined and pre-cooked, usually with added sugar and flavorings. Stay clear of those.
Most whole grains can be cooked the night before and quickly warmed up in the morning though. Before being diagnosed with gluten intolerance, we used to have rolled oats most mornings, prepared the night before. I would just warm them up in the morning, and add whatever flavors we fancied (salt, black pepper, and cheese for me, please!).
10. Grain-free porridges
Another healthy option, brought into the limelight by the gluten-free-paleo-primal trend out there. Although still confidential in the shops, they are easy to whip up at home. My favorite is ground flaxseed, shredded coconut, and almond butter, with a lot of cinnamon. I just add warm water or milk and mix well. Delicious.
But there are loads of other recipes using almond flour, for example, for a rich and creamy porridge. Use flax and chia seeds as binding agents. Then add pretty much whatever you fancy and end up with a thick delicious porridge.
11. Yogurt with toppings
Or any other plain dairy product, like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Just make sure it’s plain. And full fat (meaning “unprocessed”). If this is scaring you, let’s put this in perspective:
- A fat-free 225g yogurt will save you less than 8g of fat from the cream.
- The low-fat version will sit somewhere around 4g of fat removed.
Unfortunately, the cream is what makes the yogurt, well, creamy and moreish. Thus, the likelihood of starches and sugar being added to low-fat or fat-free yogurt is very high.
To turn your dairy product of choice into a breakfast, add fruits – fresh, dried, or cooked – nuts and seeds, and whatever other flavors you fancy. Pour into a container to take-away. I have a thing for Greek yogurt with fresh mango, pistachio nuts, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cardamom…
12. Quick pancakes
There are oodles of quick and healthy pancake recipes out there. Using 2 or 3 ingredients, simply mixed and cooked in a pan, usually for less than 10 minutes. OK, this is a bit more than the 5 minutes I was aiming for initially, but it’s still feasible, even on a rushed morning.
Admittedly too, these are not super portable. They might be better suited for the weekend or a brunch. But I still feel they deserved to make an appearance here, if anything because they are easy to make and can accommodate all diet restrictions. Maybe also because they feel that little bit more decadent than the other breakfasts suggested.
What is your clean breakfast of choice?
I didn’t give full recipes here, as there are simply thousands of them out there. But feel free to share your favorites in the comments or suggest other breakfast ideas I have missed.
The point is, even pushed for time, there’s no excuse not to have a healthy, clean breakfast.
And if you’re running out of ideas for clean eats to go through your day, read on:
- Check this post for snack ideas to get you through the day.
- Or this one if you’re not sure how to eat clean eating at lunch.