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Breakfast – Tips and Simple Creations

Why the big fuss about breakfast?

 Research indicates:

  • Skipping breakfast is associated with a higher body mass index and increased obesity risk, even despite lower reported daily energy intake among breakfast skippers.
  • Breakfast eaters are less likely to snack on impulse, and tend to eat less at later meals.
  • Normal weight individuals and those who have successfully maintained weight loss are likely to eat breakfast regularly.  They most commonly consume a breakfast consisting of high-fiber cereal, which contributes an average of 20% of daily energy intake.
  • It is important to note that breakfasts that are very high in calories have also been associated with higher body mass index. In other words, not all breakfasts are created equal.

    Breakfast provides a healthy start to the day, and a physical and mental energy boost:

  • Serves to jumpstart your metabolism for the day by BREAKING the FAST that your body undergoes overnight.
  • Provides an opportunity to fit in important nutrients (think produce!) and set you up for more healthy choices throughout the day.

A healthy breakfast contains a balance of nutrients, just like any other meal or snack.  Think of the Balanced Plate when planning your breakfast, and aim for a balance of 50% non-starchy veggies, 25% lean protein, and 25% carbs.  See examples from each plate section below:

Non-starchy Vegetables

  • Fresh, frozen, canned, sun-dried, freeze-dried, sautéed, roasted, raw, steamed, non-starchy veggies can be eaten plain on the side, seasoned and mixed into egg or meat-based dishes, or added as condiments to breakfast sandwiches. They key is to make sure they are 50% of your plate.


  • Eggs or egg whites: boiled, poached, cooked over-easy to over-hard, scrambled, omelet-style, frittata, quiche
  • Meat/Fish: turkey or Canadian bacon, chicken sausage, lunch meat, lean ground meat, lox
      • If you have high blood pressure, be sure to take note of sodium content here
  • Plant-based: tofu (mixed in smoothies, casseroles, or scrambled as an egg substitute), tempeh, seitan, dried beans, refried beans, nuts and nut butters, seeds, soy meat substitutes
      • If you have diabetes, be sure to include the carb content of the beans as well


Carbs (whole grains, starchy veggies, fruit, dairy)

  • Whole Grains: breads, English muffins, mini-bagels, tortillas, crackers, pancakes and waffles
  • Cold cereals: look for 3 or more grams of protein and fiber and less than 10g of sugar per serving (and stick to the listed serving size!)
  • Hot cereals: step aside, cream of wheat!  Most whole grains can be eaten as a hot cereal, including oatmeal (try old-fashioned, steel-cut, or Irish-cut), brown rice, barley, buckwheat, farro, quinoa, millet, teff, amaranth, or polenta.  Many food companies sell hot cereal mixes with a combination of several whole grains.
  • Fruits: small apple (4 oz), ¾ cup blueberries, 12 cherries, ½ large banana, ½ grapefruits, 1 cup of raspberries or blackberries
  • Starchy veggies: ½ cup sweet potato, ½ cup corn, 1 cup winter squash
  • Dairy: 6 oz (3/4 cup) Greek yogurt, low fat or non-fat, 1 cup milk (nonfat cow’s milk, unsweetened almond milk, kefir)

Check out the breakfast section of the Retrofit Jumpstart Recipe Book for a few other easy ideas!

Sample QUICK breakfast ideas (mix and match)

  • Trail mix / nuts and dried fruit
    • Time saver: make 5 bags at the start of the week, grab and go each morning.
    • Purchase dried fruit without any added sugar.
  • Hard boiled eggs plus a whole tomato
    • Time saver: cook & peel eggs on Sunday for the week, or buy pre-boiled eggs.
    • Grab-n-go carb options to add — small apple,1/2 banana, slice of whole grain bread. (portioned in bags or Tupperware)
  • Steel cut oats
    • Time saver: make in a pan or Crockpot on the weekend; reheat single servings.
    • For more balance/satiety: mix in 1-2 Tbsp of peanut butter or almond butter or chopped nuts & fruit, and/or add 1-2 Tbsp of ground flax seed (flax seed meal).
    • Grab a cup of carrot or celery sticks for a side snack with breakfast or later in the morning.
  • Corn or whole wheat tortilla with fillings:
    • Savory version: vegetarian refried beans, cheese & 1 cup salsa rolled up and microwaved to heat through.
    • Sweet version: roll the tortilla around 1 Tbsp peanut butter and 1 small banana or ½ large banana
    • Grab a cup of carrot or celery sticks for a side snack with breakfast or later in the morning.
    • Time saver: make several burritos ahead of time, store in refrigerator, and heat as they are used. Pack veggies for the week on Sunday/Monday, in single-serving baggies.
  • Cottage cheese or Greek Yogurt and fruit
    • Eat at home or buy any of these in single serving cups and take with you.
  • Mashed avocado or spreadable cheese (e.g. laughing cow or baby bell) and whole wheat toast or whole grain crackers
  • Top with 1 cup steamed spinach or other non-starchy veggie.
  • Scrambled eggs in a mug: top with salsa or add a handful of cherry tomatoes on the side
  • Breakfast bars
    • Nutrition Facts: For 100-220 calorie bars, look for <2g sat fat, >4g protein, >2g fiber, <10g sugar. For 220-350 calorie bars, look for <4g sat fat, >9g protein, >4g fiber, <20g sugar.
      • Barring whole fruit, sugar in any form should not be the first or second ingredient listed.
      • Sample acceptable brands (not all-inclusive): Fiber One, Kashi, Kind, Clif, Lara, Luna, Rickland Orchards, Rise, Soyjoy
    • Grab a cup of carrot or celery sticks for a side snack with breakfast or later in the morning.

***Remember that breakfast doesn’t have to consist of typical breakfast foods–it can be veggies and hummus, soup, salad, leftovers… anything you want…keeping the balanced plate in mind!

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