By Sarah Shay
You want to get your day off to a good start. You need plenty of energy to get you through your busy morning without feeling hungry and fixated on lunch. How do you change your habits to Eat Real at Breakfast? In this post I’ll show you how with links to all the recipes too!
Liz explained in her post why breakfast is important from a nutritional perspective. When I was changing my diet I found that if you want to be gluten free and processed sugar free then breakfast was the hardest meal to get your head around as to what to eat instead of cereal and toast.
1) Start by hydrating
The first change I made was the very first drink of the day. In the UK we pad down the stairs in our slippers to get the kettle on and have a cup of tea. I would put sugar in my tea and usually reached for the biscuit tin too. Immediately you hit your barely awake body with caffeine, sugar and gluten.
I still get my slippers on and go off to boil the kettle but I will have a slice of lemon in my mug and top off with a bit of cold water so it isn’t too hot to drink. Look for organic lemons or at least unwaxed ones. I don’t always have a fresh lemon to hand, but I’ll always have some slices in the freezer. Just slice them up and freeze them separated on a chopping board, then when they have frozen take them off your board and put them into a container. If you just slice them and put them straight into a container they will freeze together and you will never get them apart!
So you have hydrated after a night’s sleep and woken up your digestive system ready for breakfast. If I’m working at home I’ll top up my mug with more hot water and use the same slice of lemon. When I’m done I put the lemon in the dishwasher to keep it smelling fresh or even use it with some bicarbonate of soda on a saucepan to get it really clean. Nothing goes to waste!
2) What do I eat instead of toast?
I would eat a lot of toast, margarine and marmalade. Again, you have started your day with gluten, hydrogenated vegetable fats and sugar. Chances are you will be hungry before lunch and may feel bloated. As Liz explained, you need to be eating some protein to fill yourself up and give you energy.
I make gluten free banana bread which has protein and fibre in it and is naturally sweetened. You can toast it to warm it up, although you don’t have to, and one piece is really filling. You can wrap it up and grab a slice on the go. I freeze it in portions and take a slice out the night before. You can spread it with butter – substitute real butter for all those low fat spreads which are full of chemicals and hydrogenated fats. Jams can even be made from cooked fruit and chia seeds when you get more adventurous!
Another toast alternative is granola bars. Easy to grab on the go – easy to eat on an early morning train without too much mess! I’ve tested lots with different cooking methods and the recipe I now use is simple to mix up and also freezes really well so I keep them individually wrapped ready to grab out the freezer. You can even chop these in half as a tea time treat or to serve up instead of biscuits if a friend comes round for coffee.
3) What do I eat instead of cereals?
Reaching mindlessly for a packet of cereal is the next thing to swap out. Even those cereals that are touted as healthy granolas and muesli can contain a lot of processed sugars. Take a look at the packet and just look at the sugar content – you might be surprised to see 18% or more!
Make your own granola – it is really easy. I’ve tried quite a few here to get a recipe that you don’t have to take out the oven and stir every five minutes and that also doesn’t use too much maple syrup or coconut oil as this just gets really expensive. You can make a big batch and I keep half in the fridge in a mason jar and freeze the rest to keep it fresh. Splash over some almond milk or coconut milk, maybe a dollop of full fat Greek yoghurt and even top with some fruit too. I love a chopped apple.
Another great alternative is overnight oats or bircher muesli. In the evening, spoon some oats into a cereal bowl and cover with liquid – use whatever you have to hand – water, milk, almond milk etc. Leave it in the fridge overnight and in the morning you have a base you can add to. Try Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt, grated or stewed apple, and whatever fruit you have. Use segmented oranges or grapefruit if you are avoiding sweeter fruits like banana and grapes. Berries are lovely too – especially a handful of blueberries. You could even add some nuts or seeds for crunch.
In the winter you can make a nice bowl of porridge. I have worked out the best amount of oats and liquid to get you perfect porridge for one every time. You can measure all your ingredients into your sauce pan the night before and leave it in the fridge. In the morning whip out the pan, put it on the stove and stir till thick and cooked through. Eat it there and then or even take it to work in a thermos flask.
Some days I whizz up a smoothie in my Vitamix blender. You can use fruit coming to the end of its life in your fruit bowl or frozen berries and bananas out of the freezer. Use ice cubes and liquid of your choice – I use coconut milk or almond milk. Add a tablespoon of porridge oats for protein to make the smoothie more filling and you can add supplement powders like maca powder or even a handful of cashew nuts and whizz up until silky smooth. As you get more adventurous you can put some veg in too like a handful of kale leaves. My toddler loves to have his own little glass of smoothie; it is a great way of “hiding” some fruit and veg!
** A note on oats – they contain a similar protein to gluten called avenin and some people with gluten sensitivity may not be able to eat oats. Also oats are often processed in factories with other gluten containing cereals and so to classify as gluten free on the label they have to be packaged in a completely gluten free environment hence why they are so expensive. If you are coeliac then you need to buy the gluten free packets. I actually buy a massive bag from the health food store but you can just buy them from supermarkets. **
4) How about a Full English?
A “Full English” every so often makes a great breakfast. Ditch the toast, baked beans and hash browns and add in some sweet potato toast, spinach and scramble or poach your eggs. Buy good quality bacon, or even better, try parma ham which is free of nitrates and nitrites. Look for gluten free sausages from your butcher or somewhere like Abel & Cole. More supermarkets now stock them too. Normally sausages are made with a lot of bread to make the meat go further so watch out for the standard ones.
Omlettes and Omtattas (my cross between an omelette and a frittata!) can be made the night before and warmed through or still taste good cold. Stick them in a Tupperware and take them to work. You can get veg into your breakfast here too by using some frozen spinach, sautéed mushrooms, courgette, red onions and peppers. I also add a quarter teaspoon of turmeric. Turmeric is a super spice full of healing properties and I find adding it to eggs is an easy way to incorporate it into my diet.
Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon also makes for a protein rich and special breakfast. With a crack of black pepper and a wedge of lemon it couldn’t be simpler.
5) Weekend treats
The last breakfast alternative I really love is my gluten free pancakes. At the weekend you may have a bit more time and might want to get family members involved in cooking too and this is a great recipe to do so. Add in some blueberries as you cook the pancakes or serve them with some warmed up berries. Even make chocolate sauce by melting some raw processed sugar free dark chocolate and drizzling over. After all it is the weekend!
All of these alternatives are just so much more satisfying, tastier and give you a nutritious start to the day. You won’t believe how much more energy you have and you might even look forward to getting out of bed for your breakfast!!
Don’t forget to share and let me know if you have any comments or want to know more. I’d love to hear what you try!