Tired of eating the same old, same old breakfasts? We are creatures of habit and sometimes that means falling into a breakfast rut of oatmeal, smoothies, or toast. We have a lot of ideas for revitalizing your morning meal that will not only generate a renewed excitement for energizing breakfasts but also help you discover new ways to nourish your strength and stamina throughout the day.
Far too often, we reach for convenience items first thing in the morning like pastries, bagels, cereal, waffles, instant oatmeal, coffee, juice, or lattes. These offer us a quick spike in energy, but it’s fleeting – and then we feel tired and hungry an hour later. This can lead to a hard-to-break cycle of energy spikes and dips fueled by sugar and caffeine.
Instead, start your day with energizing breakfasts that will help you feel a level of vitality that you can sustain throughout the day!
Culinary Nutrition Benefits of Breakfast
Eating energizing breakfasts offer us many health benefits. Eating breakfast helps us:
- Balance blood sugar levels, which facilitates stable energy levels throughout the day
- Improve our mood
- Enhance brain function, especially our ability to focus, pay attention, and learn
- Support optimal hormone levels
- Reduce inflammation and support immunity
- Feel full and satisfied
Essential Components of an Energizing Breakfast
There is a wide array of ingredients you can choose to create energizing breakfasts. These essentials will help you create a breakfast that is nourishing, balanced, and energy-boosting.
Foods that are high in fibre take longer for us to digest and break down – this leads to a slow release of energy after a meal. Refined, sugary, and low-fibre foods are absorbed quickly, setting us up for blood sugar spikes and crashes that impact our energy levels, hormones, and mood. Aside from its energizing benefits, fibre also supports good digestion and cardiovascular health.
Great food sources: Beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and gluten-free grains. Basically, all of the plant-based foods!
Protein is essential for healing, repair, and growth. Whether you’re vegan, Paleo, or anything in between, a quality source of protein will help you feel satiated, balance your blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Great food sources: Meatless options are beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, bee pollen, seaweed (and remember that vegetables and fruits have amino acids, the building blocks of protein, too). Animal-based options include sustainably and ethically sourced eggs, meat, poultry, and fish.
Nourishing fats have a multitude of benefits for our brains, joints, skin, muscle tissue, and cells. Similar to protein, a quality source of fat will keep your blood sugar levels even and prevent you from reaching for mindless snacks. Wondering which oils are safe to eat or heat? Check out this handy infographic.
Should Your Energizing Breakfasts be Sweet or Savory?
In North America, we’re accustomed to eating sweet convenience items for breakfast: toast and jam, bagels, cereal, instant oatmeal or porridge with sugar, pastries, pancakes doused in maple syrup, granola, and granola bars. These sweet breakfasts set us up for blood sugar spikes throughout the morning, and can lead to hormone imbalances, mood swings, feeling more tired, and other health effects.
We find that when we opt for savory breakfast recipes, we naturally end up eating more vegetables, fibre, healthy fats and protein – all of which will set us up for blood sugar stability and provide us with valuable vitamins and minerals to support our wellness.
However, we’re not saying that you should never eat something on the sweeter side in the morning. If you aim for:
- the trifecta of fibre, fat, and protein
- choose natural sweeteners and
- use blood-sugar balancing spices and herbs such as cinnamon
Not Hungry at Breakfast?
Some people aren’t ready for breakfast as soon as they rise, especially when waking up very early in the morning for work, school, or family reasons. Others may follow a specific dietary practice like intermittent fasting, which may alter the time of their first meal.
If you’d like to eat breakfast but don’t feel hungry, you could try the following:
- Eat dinner earlier at night.
- Avoid nighttime snacking.
- You don’t have to eat right when you wake up – wait an hour or so.
- Create a regular routine where you wake up at approximately the same time each day, and eat breakfast at the same time each day. Our bodies crave routine, so it can prepare for what’s happening and when – and produce the appropriate hormones.
- Start off with a light breakfast to ease yourself into the breakfast habit.
- Eat regularly throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels more even. Blood sugar spikes and crashes can lead to an excess of stress hormones, which may interfere with your hunger cues.
- Find breakfast difficult to digest? If there is an underlying digestive issue, breakfast can make you feel bloated, crampy, or uncomfortable. These 14 foods are easy to digest and may help you improve your overall digestive function.
- Reduce and manage stress in your life, as stress hormones can suppress your appetite.
- Try to get a better night’s sleep. Poor sleep can interfere with our hormones that regulate hunger and our sleep/wake cycle. These 11 foods can help!
Even if you don’t eat breakfast first thing in the morning, you can follow the guidelines and recipes in this post for energizing breakfasts whenever you decide to break your fast!
12 NUTRITIOUS Ideas for Energizing Breakfasts
In no particular order, these are 12 of our favourite energizing breakfast ideas! These are all simple to modify based on your dietary philosophy and preferences and are easy to make.
Frittata or Omelette
Need to clean out the fridge to prevent food waste? Throw your veggies and herbs into an omelette, and meat if desired, for a flexible and satisfying meal. Eggs are flush with nutrients like anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, Vitamin D for bone health and immunity, protein for blood sugar balance, and B vitamins for energy levels.
If an omelette or frittata seems like too much effort in the morning, make ahead of time or simply cook eggs to your liking (scrambled, poached, over-easy, soft-boiled, etc.) and serve with a heap of dark leafy greens.
Smoothies or Smoothie Bowls
Smoothies pack a wallop of nutrition into an easy-to-digest package. When blending a smoothie, you can incorporate a far larger volume of nutritious ingredients than you could eat in their un-blended state in one sitting (grab our go-to smoothie blending formula here).
Serving your smoothies in a bowl allows you to slow down, relax and ‘chew’ your smoothie bowl for optimum digestion. The addition of toppings to smoothie bowls means you’ll likely feel more satisfied and satiated. If you’d like to dip your toes into the smoothie bowl world, here are our top tips for creating healthy smoothie bowls that will serve as a complete, satisfying and delicious meal.
Recipes to Try:
- 20 Best Dairy-Free Smoothie Recipes
- 3 Dairy-Free Smoothie Recipes from Simple Superfood Smoothies
- 9 Tips for Healthy Smoothie Bowls (With Recipes)
- Energizing Pineapple Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie
Image: Brenda Godinez from Unsplash
Chia seeds are loaded with protein, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, and fibre (exactly what we need for energizing breakfasts!), plus they contain valuable minerals like calcium and iron. Chia seeds have a mucilaginous texture and this not only makes them a great option for a breakfast pudding but also helps to support digestion.
Chia pudding is a wonderful make-ahead breakfast option, and you can load them up with toppings such as fresh fruit, nut/seed butters, bee pollen, and more.
Recipe To Try: Chocolate Chia Pudding by Meghan Telpner (*ACN Founder + Director)
Congee is a rice porridge served for breakfast in many countries including China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Cambodia. Countries have different names for it, but the concept is similar – you make congee by boiling rice in an excess of water until it becomes soft, soupy, and porridge-like, then up the nutritional ante by adding:
It’s a great way to use up cooked leftovers, too!
Tofu scrambles are a fantastic vegan egg-like savory breakfast option. There are many different ways to season a vegan tofu scramble, as tofu soaks up the flavours you add to it. Add Mexican flair with chili powder, salsa and avocado, go Indian with curry powder, turmeric, cumin or coriander, make it Greek-style with olives, bell pepper and spinach, create a ‘cheesy’ flavour using nutritional yeast, or fold in your favourite pesto for herb appeal.
We like to use a medium-firm or firm tofu in scrambles, as those hold up better in the cooking process and retain that scrambled egg texture. However, if you lean towards super creamy, not quite fully cooked scrambled eggs you could opt for a soft tofu as well. Whatever the density, we recommend using non-GMO tofu as the most health-supportive option.
Recipe to Try: Super Flavourful Tofu Scramble with Spinach and Tomatoes by Zen and Zaatar
Huevos Rancheros or Breakfast Tacos
The basics of huevos rancheros are corn tortillas, fried eggs, and salsa. Easy and delicious, right? Make huevos rancheros and add loads of toppings for extra nutrition. If you’re vegan, tofu, tempeh or beans can stand in for the eggs. Top up your huevos rancheros with avocado, black beans or refried beans, dairy-free cheese, green or red onions, and herbs such as parsley or cilantro.
Want this breakfast to be portable? Try wrapping it up in a tortilla or these awesome gluten-free bread alternatives.
Yes, soup for breakfast! A bowl or mug of soup is a tasty way to start the day. For a lighter option, opt for a clear broth as your base. Thick blended soups using nut/seed milk, coconut milk or cashew cream yield a heartier option. You can add beans, legumes, vegetables, tofu, tempeh, eggs, meat, fish, or poultry to a clear or blended broth for extra nutrient density.
Recipes to Try:
- Hanoi-Style Breakfast Pho by Danny Bowien
- 20 Best Dairy-Free Soup Recipes
- Creamy Cauliflower Carrot Soup
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Culinary Nutrition Guide to Broths and Stocks
Loaded Gluten-Free Toast
Don’t just slather some jam on toast and call it a day! Start off with a slice or two of gluten-free bread, then load it up with all kinds of sweet or savory goodies. Think of your toast more like an open-faced sandwich.
For a sweet option, use:
You could spread more than one of these on your toast at once – for example, a combo of coconut butter, tahini and honey. Then, you can sprinkle toppings on your toast like hemp seeds or crushed nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, or homemade granola for crunch.
For a savory option, try toppings galore like:
- avocado or guacamole
- nut/seed butter
- mashed beans or refried beans
- vegan cheese
- scrambled eggs
- tomato slices
- smoked salmon
- dark leafy greens
- roasted veggies (root veggies are great!)
- sea salt
- seasoning blends
This Egyptian breakfast stew is a hearty mixture of mashed fava beans, olive oil, garlic, onion and cumin, though there are multiple seasoning variations depending on who is making it. It’s often paired with bread, hummus, olives, eggs, and fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, cucumber and parsley.
Oatmeal/Porridge (Sweet or Savory)
We love a good bowl of oatmeal as much as the next person! As with the other energizing breakfasts we’ve mentioned, the key is to add fibre, nutritious fats, and protein so you’re not just downing a bowlful of sugar. Play around with your oatmeal toppings like fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and spices for added nutrition. Don’t be afraid to make a savory oatmeal, either – with broth, vegetables, eggs, tofu, greens, beans, and dips and spreads!
And remember, oats aren’t the only grain you can use for porridge! Millet, quinoa, buckwheat, cornmeal and rice are also delicious. You can also make grain-free options using ground nuts, almond flour or even cauliflower rice.
Elixirs are cozy in cool weather and are a delicious morning pick-me-up. With their combo spices, herbs, natural sweeteners, fat and protein, dairy-free elixirs are beverages that can serve as a light meal or snack, while also supporting our health in a targeted way. They take mere minutes to blend – and you can pack them into a re-usable mug to take them on the go.
Recipes to Try:
- 20 Best Dairy-Free Elixir Recipes
- Our 5 Favourite Hot Chocolate Combos
- DIY Guide to Making Dairy-Free Elixirs
- Dairy-Free Gingerbread Latte
- Matcha Latte
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Begin by roasting several sweet potatoes, and then slice them open and stuff with your favourite sweet or savory breakfast toppings. Really load those sweet potatoes up with veggies and protein, and drizzle an amazing sauce all over to complete the meal.
This is a delicious and wonderful make-ahead option. If you pre-bake your sweet potatoes and prep a few toppings ahead of time (dips, hard boiled eggs, steamed veggies, etc.), then all you’ll need to do in the morning is assemble and reheat.
Recipe to Try: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes by Meghan Telpner