It’s January so it goes without saying that we are trying to practice super clean eating after the excess of the past month. And as we all know, the first meal of the day is the starting point. Skipping breakfast is simply not an option if you want to keep your blood sugar levels in check and not find yourself reaching for the biscuits by 10.30.
But we are well aware that making sure you eat healthily at 7am while getting the kids ready for school and rushing out to work isn’t always easy. The trick we have found is planning what’s for breakfast and often preparing it the night before. This saves time and brainpower when you are tight on time.
Here are some of our favourite ingredients to super charge your breakfast that will taste great as well as being incredibly good for you – and they are all so easy to throw together.
Porridge and Bircher Muesli
Gone are the days of dull, bland porridge. Oats form the base for so many of our favourite breakfast recipes. They are packed with health benefits and research shows that a bowl of porridge a day can even help protect against cancer.
Nutritious and filling, thanks to their low GI, oats will fill you up for longer as they release energy slowly. Gluten and wheat free, they are also an option for those who suffer from incoherences and allergies.
But on their own oats are far from exciting. It’s what you mix them with that makes them a delight to wake up to.
We love overnight bircher made in advance (see the recipes below) or throwing together a quick bowl of porridge as we get the kids ready for school and nursery. There are endless delicious additions to you can make to really ‘pimp your porridge’. Here are some of the things we like to mix in.
Linwoods milled flaxseed, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seed and goji berry mix is amazing stuff. Add a couple of spoonfuls to your oats to get a hit of zinc, vitamin D and omega 3. Linwoods make several different seed and nut blends but this is our fave. It goes in our overnight bircher along with oats, natural yogurt and almond milk
Nut milks are fantastic – almond, cashew and coconut are all delicious dairy alternatives. We also sprinkle whole or crushed nuts and seeds on top of our bircher and porridge. Walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts are perfect. If we have time we toast them first and sometimes add a pinch of cinnamon too.
Once we have our base of oats, nuts and seeds, we add fruit. This can be any thing we have in the fridge. Lately we have been loving toasted nectarines, plums and figs on top or try grate apple of pear and mixing them in. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are always a hit with the kids when we are making porridge for them.
If you want to sweeten things up a bit more then try runny honey or maple syrup. Or if you are feeling like you need a little sugar boost then a spoonful of Daylesford Organic’s rhubarb compote is the perfect little treat – even better if it’s warmed in the microwave first.
If you miss having something chocolatey in the morning then try cacao nibs – they are amazing! Basically little bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean – just chocolate that hasn’t been ground and mixed with sugar yet. They’re extremely good for you, and have an intense chocolatey taste, but aren’t sweet at all. Great with porridge and kids love them because they think they are getting chocolate for breakfast!
Scramble, poached or boiled, you can’t go wrong with eggs. These little gems are filled with nutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin (essential for healthy eyes) and omega-3 fatty acids (an important part of keeping hearts healthy) With just 70 calories and 6 grams of protein per egg, incorporating eggs into your breakfast is an easy way to stay full for hours.
We love making omelettes and adding mushrooms, spinach and chilli flakes. Pop half an avocado and some smoked salmon on the side and you have the most nutritious savoury breakfast you could wish for. All made in a matter of minutes.
Yes toast. Not the stodgy white kind with strawberry jam, but the alternative breads that are exactly the kind of carbs we should all be eating. Think Biona organic rye bread with sunflower seeds or Burgen Soya and Linsead bread. We top these with nut butter such as Biona Organic Roast Cashew Nut Butter or Meridian Almond Butter. Then some slices of apple, a few crushed pecans and a little drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Scrummy!
The breakfast super charger – Chia seeds
Chia seeds are one of the best things you can add to your breakfast. A true super food, they are packed with nutrients and are a great source of fibre and protein. Add a sprinkling to whatever you are making for breakfast – from porridge to eggs to massive enhance the nutritional value of your meal. They are pretty much tasteless too so very easy to eat. We add them to EVERYTHING!
If you would like some inspiration from the experts try out these wonderful recipes from some of our foodie heroes.
Madeleine Shaw’s Warming Porridge with poached pears and cacao nibs
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 vanilla pod
120g of Porridge oats
500ml of almond milk
2 tbsp of cacao nibs
1 tsp of freeze dried strawberries (optional)
1 tbsp of almond butter
Peel the pear and place it in a pot of water with 2 tbsp of maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds, add the seeds and pod to the pan and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes until tender.
Heat the oats and almond milk with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and a pinch of salt on the hob for 3-4 minutes until the oats are plump and have soaked in the liquid.
Plate the oats with the pear halved on top. Sprinkle over the cacao nibs and freeze dried strawberries and finish with a spoonful of almond butter and a splash of maple syrup.
Louise Parker’s Vanilla and Apple Bircher
Mix 500g of 0% or 2% Total Greek Yoghurt with a tablespoon of vanilla paste and a cup of whole milk.
Then stir in 6 tablespoons of organic jumbo oats and a tablespoon of milled seeds or flax (optional)
Grate two organic red apples (skin on) and add to the mix.
Spoon in to glasses and cover with cling film and pop in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, add seasonal fruit and a tablespoon of sugar free granola
Deliciously Ella’s Bircher Muesli with Almond Milk
1 cup of oats (120g)
1 over ripe banana
1 and a 1/2 cups of homemade almond milk (375ml)
2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
a handful of sunflower seeds (30g)
a handful of pumpkin seeds (30g)
1/4 of a cup of raspberries (40g)
1/4 of a cup of blueberries (40g)
a handful of cacao nibs (20g)
Start by slicing up the banana, then place the slices in a mixing bowl with the almond milk and raspberries and mash them all together with a fork. Then add in the oats, seeds, cacao nibs, chia seeds and sweetener and stir together. Place the bowl in the fridge and allow it to thicken overnight.
Hemsley and Hemsley’s One Pan Full Monty Breakfast
4 rashers of unsmoked bacon
2 handfuls of small mushrooms (such as button or chestnut)
1 handful of cherry tomatoes
1 handful of asparagus spears (woody ends snapped off) or purple-sprouting broccoli (optional)
2 large handfuls of baby spinach
Sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to fan 200°C/Gas mark 7 and line your widest baking tray with baking parchment. Add half the ghee or coconut oil and let it melt in the oven for a few minutes.
Spread out all the ingredients in the lined and greased baking tray, excluding the eggs and spinach (don’t worry – you will make space for them later). If using asparagus or broccoli, add these now as well.
After 10 minutes in the oven, take out the tray, flip over the bacon and mushrooms and push them to one side, then add the rest of the ghee/coconut oil. Throw in the spinach, make two indentations in it and carefully crack in the eggs.
Put the tray back in the oven for a further 4–5 minutes until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Remove from the oven, and give a good grind of salt and black pepper to serve.
Jamie Oliver’s Super-food protein loaf
1 x 7 g sachet of dried yeast
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
250 g gram flour
100 g ground almonds
50 g linseeds
100 g mixed seeds, such as chia, poppy, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
4 large free-range eggs
3 teaspoons Marmite , optional
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. Line a 1.5-litre loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Fill a jug with 375ml of lukewarm water, add the yeast and oil, then mix with a fork until combined and leave aside for 5 minutes.
Pile the flour, ground almonds and all the seeds into a large bowl with a pinch of sea salt and make a well in the middle. Pick, finely chop and add the rosemary leaves. Crack in the eggs, add the Marmite (if using – simply leave it out for a gluten-free friendly loaf) and beat together, then pour in the yeast mixture. Whisking as you go, gradually bring in the flour from the outside until combined – it’ll be more like a batter than a dough. Pour into the prepared tin and smooth out nice and evenly on top.
Now you’ve got two choices – bake it straight away and it’ll puff up a bit more and taste fantastic, or cover and place it in the fridge overnight and allow some slightly more complex sour flavours to develop. Both are brilliant, just different. To bake, place in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden, cooked through and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before eating, then serve.