The earliest regular breakfast I can remember eating is Reese’s Puffs. Those things were delicious, but I could eat them forever and not get full. And because of that, I was always left hungry and craving more sugar-filled food. As I got more into health and wellness, I started changing up my breakfast. Slowly evolving from a sugar-filled, nutrient-void cereal to a wholesome plant-based meal. Shortly after Reese’s Puffs, I switched to two English muffins with peanut butter for years. But still, my hunger would reappear shortly after breakfast and while the meal was more nutrient dense than Reese’s Puffs, it was still lacking in nutrient variety and whole foods. After that I tried avocado toast and a smoothie each morning. This was better yet but there wasn’t an effortless way to meal prep and travel with it. It’d take about 25 minutes to make each morning and wouldn’t taste as great if I stored it to eat later. And I could recommend it to others, but most people wouldn’t try it because they needed a blender or didn’t like avocados.
Then I stumbled upon old faithful. Oatmeal. But I don’t just mean the typical Quaker Oats meal that’s made of instant oats and brown sugar. I mean the whole foods version that starts with a steel-cut oats base and adds in a variety of food groups to increase the nutrient density and variety. I mean an oatmeal bowl that includes seeds, nuts, berries, and spices. It’s a meal that’s become my staple every morning and one that I recommend everyone try when attempting to eat a healthy breakfast. It’s so easy to mix-and-match ingredients for variety and taste preferences, and it’s easy to make in bulk over the weekend and eat throughout the week. Here’s why I recommend oatmeal to anyone looking for a healthier way to start their morning. And why I think it’s the perfect breakfast.
It’s Hard to Beat Oatmeal
Steel-cut oats, the least processed form of oats, are a fantastic whole grain filled with more than 34% of your recommended daily intake of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin B1. They’re also a healthy source of slow-absorption carbs indicated by their low glycemic index rating of 52. The lower a food’s glycemic index, the less of an effect it’ll have on one’s blood sugar levels and the less of an insulin response the body will have during digestion. This provides the body with a more sustained feeling of fullness and energy. This is far better than instant oats which have a glycemic index rating of 65 or your typical cereal around 80. This is because steel-cut oats aren’t processed like instant oats or cereal so it’s fiber and nutrients remain intact. And a study comparing the consumption of whole foods oatmeal vs your typical processed cereal showed that participants who ate the oatmeal consumed 50% less calories during their next meal compared to the cereal group. This is likely because of the oatmeal’s low glycemic index rating and high nutrient score.
So clearly steel-cut oats are a super healthy base to start with. But we need more than just a whole grain and healthy carbs to create a complete meal. That’s why I like to add berries next. Berries are considered the most nutrient dense group of fruits and are packed with fiber and antioxidants. A serving of these a day has been shown to decrease cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years compared to those who don’t eat berries daily. I regularly choose blueberries as they make this dish delicious. Next, I like to start adding in some healthy fats and proteins. Walnuts have more ALA omega 3’s than any other nut and are considered the healthiest nut by many individuals. They’re also great for brain health and reducing your risk of diabetes, cancer, and obesity. After that, I add in a serving of ground flax seeds for more fiber, omega 3’s, and lignans. And to top it off, a dash of cinnamon for flavor and antioxidants. This is the result:
- Fill small saucepan with one cup water and oats.
- Cover and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes while occasionally stirring.
- Mix in remaining ingredients.
- Serve and enjoy.
An extremely well-rounded meal of macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals), and food groups (whole grains, fruits, nuts/seeds). Not only is it nutritionally healthy, but it’s delicious too with the walnuts and blueberry mix. But on top of the nutrition and taste, the main reason I recommend this to everyone is how simple it is to make. It doesn’t take a lot of kitchen ware and it’s a straightforward recipe. If you don’t have time to make this in the morning, you can easily make a week’s worth of it in batch over the weekend and store it in containers. Then all you must do is microwave a serving of it each morning and you’re good to go! It’s such a versatile and forgiving recipe that I’ve had a difficult time recommending any other breakfast to people for these reasons.
Speaking of versatility, this same meal can easily be mixed up for variety. Whether you’re concerned about nutrient or flavor variety, there’s many ways you can change this recipe up. I’ve made this same meal with different whole grain bases like quinoa and amaranth. They’re both excellent choices for a breakfast. Then sometimes I’ll choose raspberries or blackberries as my fruit. Whatever berry gets you most excited to eat, then use that! All whole food fruits are delicious and nutritious. The same goes with nuts, seeds, and spices. Below, is a chart I made of the most common ingredients I use to add-in variety to my breakfast when needed. Feel free to give some of these a try and let me know your favorite combination in the comments below!
Need More Calories? Side Smoothie!
For most people consuming a diet between 1,200 – 2,000 calories, this 515-calorie oatmeal breakfast is a perfect fit. But if you’re an athlete, active individual, or demand more calories than most then I’d recommend adding a side smoothie. I typically consume around 3,000 calories a day and find that I need more than the oatmeal to meet my requirements. Because of this, I like to make a green and/or bean smoothie to go along with it. By incorporating a smoothie with green vegetables or beans, I’m adding another food group to my morning meal which increases its nutritional completeness. Below, is good example of a smoothie I’ll regularly make which includes spinach.
When taking into consideration a breakfast’s nutritional content, convenience/versatility, and flavor profile, I haven’t found a better option to recommend than oatmeal. A base of unprocessed steel-cut oats is a perfect way to start. Then for more flavor and nutritional variety, I like to add blueberries, walnuts, flax seeds, and cinnamon. It’s a delicious combination proven to keep you more satiated than your typical instant oatmeal or cereal breakfast. And if you’re still hungry after that, try a green or bean smoothie too. It’s a fantastic way to start your day healthier and happier!
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Hey, I am Brandon Zerbe
Welcome to myHealthSciences! My goal has always been to increase quality-of-life with healthy habits that are sustainable, efficient, and effective. I do this by covering topics like Fitness, Nutrition, Sleep, Cognition, Finance and Minimalism. You can read more about me here.