Breakfast has long been called the most important meal of the day, and while experts can argue that point, the fact remains that your day's first meal can have a significant impact on how the rest of your day plays out.
Let's dive in and learn more about why eating a healthy breakfast is important. Then, we'll explore some delicious easy healthy breakfast ideas and recipes.
The importance of eating a healthy breakfast
There’s a long list of benefits of eating a healthy breakfast.
- Energy: Breakfast gives your brain and body energy, which is what keeps you going throughout the day.
- Boosted brain power: Studies suggest that children perform better in school if they have a solid breakfast. These children have increased alertness, memory, problem-solving ability, concentration, test scores, and mood. The same strategy works for adults.
- Essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals: Breakfast plays a big role in your day's total intake of nutrients. People who eat breakfast have an increased chance of meeting their daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals.
- Weight control: Research is ongoing, but people who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to be obese or overweight.
How to make a healthy breakfast
Breakfast foods to eat
Studies show that eating a high-protein breakfast keeps you feeling full throughout the day, so you’ll be less inclined to reach for unhealthy snacks. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a nutritionally balanced breakfast consists of:
- A protein source
- A vegetable or fruit
- A whole grain
- A healthy fat (optional)
The key is to be sure you're maximizing fullness by eating protein and fiber at breakfast. Don't become stuffed, though, or it can impact your productivity because of the time it takes a heavy breakfast to digest.
Breakfast foods to avoid
Researchers who conducted an NIH study comparing the effects of a high-sugar breakfast with the effects of a balanced breakfast of whole grains, fruit, and protein suggest steering clear of heavy-carb meals or treats for breakfast. This includes baked goods such as muffins (unless they're like the ones we've listed below), donuts, and most scones.
Another problem with starting the day with something sweet is that you may crave sweets more often throughout the day.
High-protein breakfast foods
For a breakfast that incorporates protein, vegetables, and whole grains, try some of these breakfast ideas.
- Avocado toast with egg
- High-fiber toast with peanut butter
- Scrambled eggs with vegetables
- Greek yogurt with nuts and berries
- Cottage cheese with sliced tomatoes, olive oil, olives, fresh basil, and bruschetta
- Protein smoothie made with milk (or non-dairy milk), frozen fruit, frozen kale or spinach, and low-sugar protein powder
Keep in mind that traditional breakfast meats such as bacon and sausage add a lot of fat to your daily food intake. If you enjoy breakfast meats, look for turkey or chicken versions.
17 healthy breakfast recipes
1. Breadless eggs benedict
Eggs benedict is one of our favorite healthy breakfast recipes, but the traditional version can be fatty and high in calories. Our version of this breakfast classic is much lighter. Instead of bread, we use tomatoes to make this recipe lower in carbohydrates and gluten-free.
Besides being loaded with flavor, this recipe is also full of protein and vegetables, such as fresh spinach and avocado. This lighter version of our hollandaise sauce is made with low-fat Greek yogurt instead of butter, so you're getting more protein to replace the fat.
2. Healthy breakfast burrito
These breakfast burritos are filling enough to power you through the toughest mornings. The protein comes from eggs and chicken sausage, and the burritos are also full of fresh veggies, including onion, fresh spinach, and bell peppers. Toppings can bring in more protein with cheese and some healthy fat from diced avocado.
Once you have the basic recipe down, you can customize it with different meats and fillings. This recipe has make-ahead instructions, too, so you can have a healthy and filling breakfast prepared before you go to bed the night before.
Try using whole grain or vegetable-based tortillas (like cauliflower or jicama) instead of traditional flour tortillas to make this dish even healthier!
3. Peanut butter overnight oats
Overnight oats make breakfast easy and nutritious. You can make almost a week's worth of overnight oats because they keep well for up to five days. This recipe is made with old-fashioned rolled oats, vanilla almond milk, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, pure vanilla extract, and chia seeds. For sweetness, you can add maple syrup or honey.
Combine all of the ingredients in a container and stir well to combine. Then, seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid and allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight. When you're ready for breakfast in the morning, simply pull the container from the refrigerator, stir well, and enjoy. Before eating your oats, add desired toppings, such as chopped peanuts or berries.
4. Breakfast veggie scramble
Eggs are one of the most popular breakfast food choices, and there are so many ways to cook them. Scrambled eggs are easy to cook, and you can make a full meal by stirring in some vegetables with your eggs.
This veggie scramble is made with bell pepper, fresh spinach, and grape tomatoes. Serve with sliced avocado, and add a dollop of hummus for even more protein.
5. Healthy breakfast sandwich
When you can make a quick and easy breakfast sandwich at home, you won't be tempted to opt for the drive-through versions. These hearty sandwiches are made with eggs, vegetables, turkey slices, and cheddar cheese. If you want a lighter sandwich, you can omit the cheese.
The veggies on this sandwich include onion, chopped broccoli, sliced mushrooms, garlic, and fresh spinach.
6. Chocolate peanut butter protein bites
There are days when you need a quick grab-and-go breakfast, and that's when these delicious protein energy balls will save your morning. These protein-packed nuggets taste like a chocolate peanut butter cup, but they're vegan and gluten-free.
To make these protein bites, use Medjool dates, peanut butter, vegan chocolate chips, chia seeds, and cocoa powder.
7. Make-ahead fruit and yogurt protein parfait
If you want a quick and healthy breakfast that's a kid-pleaser, you can't go wrong with a yogurt parfait. This is a recipe that can be prepared in advance, so breakfast is ready to go when you are.
With Greek yogurt, raw pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and chia seeds, this parfait is loaded with protein and nutrients. Flavor comes from cinnamon, ground cloves, and vanilla extract, and mixed berries add color and explosive flavor.
8. Banana chocolate chip muffins
Chocolate chip muffins for breakfast may sound like an indulgent sugary treat, but that's not the case with this recipe. These muffins are made without refined sugar and butter. The protein comes from Greek yogurt, and you can use antioxidant-rich dark chocolate chips for even more nutritional value.
By using melted coconut oil or olive oil to make these muffins, you have healthier fat, and whole-wheat flour adds more fiber. The sweetness comes from honey.
9. Cottage cheese pancakes
We're all guilty of loving pancakes as a special treat, but there's nothing guilty about these cottage cheese pancakes. They get protein not just from the eggs but also from the cottage cheese. Old-fashioned oats add all the fiber you could want, and there's no added sugar in this recipe.
Serve these pancakes with a little maple syrup for sweetness, or opt for fresh berries and whipped topping for a low-sugar treat.
10. Vegetarian crustless quiche
Most quiche recipes are healthy enough, but if you're eliminating gluten and reducing carbs, making quiche without the crust delivers an even healthier breakfast or brunch meal. This recipe has a secret ingredient that makes the flavor pop: nutmeg.
Because this quiche is made with eggs and cheese, it has a lot of protein. However, this recipe also has vegetables galore, including cremini mushrooms, red onion, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes.
11. Protein breakfast smoothie
While some smoothies made with fruit and vegetables are lighter, this smoothie is loaded with protein thanks to protein powder, almond milk, and peanut butter. The rolled oatmeal adds fiber, which makes you feel full for longer.
For fruit, you can use whatever you like, and the recipe calls for frozen bananas and strawberries.
12. Smoked salmon toast
Bagels with lox and cream cheese are a breakfast classic, but this lightened-up version is just as delicious with much less fat and carbs. Instead of a bagel, you can use whole-grain sourdough bread. The recipe calls for regular cream cheese, but a substitution of lower-fat cream cheese is also flavorful.
Thin slices of smoked salmon top the toast, and fresh lemon juice, capers, fresh chives, fresh dill, and red onion add plenty of flavor.
13. Homemade pecan and walnut chocolate energy bars
Granola bars and other types of bars are popular as a quick breakfast item, but the problem with store bought bars is that they're often laden with ingredients you don't have control over. When you make homemade energy bars with foods from your pantry, you know exactly what you're eating.
These tasty bars have two types of nuts—walnuts and pecans—and peanuts, which are actually a legume. Chia seeds and Medjool dates add even more wholesome goodness. For the chocolate flavor, use 60% dark chocolate and cocoa powder. The sweetness comes from natural agave.
14. Classic French omelette
The difference between a French omelette and an American omelet is all about the technique and the fillings. With a French omelette, the recipe is much simpler. The only ingredients are eggs, butter, salt, and fresh herbs.
With an American omelet, some browning of the eggs is okay, and you can stuff it to your heart's content with delicious lean meats and veggies.
15. Instant Pot steel-cut oats
Small kitchen appliances such as the Instant Pot have changed the way we cook dinner, but these handy tools are also ideal for preparing breakfast. With your pressure cooker, you've got a bowl of steaming steel-cut oatmeal prepared and ready to eat in less than half an hour. Best of all, it's easy hands-off cooking.
Optional toppings can include fresh or frozen fruits, nut butter, seeds and nuts, cacao nibs, and dairy-free milk.
16. Avocado toast with egg (4 ways)
Avocado toast has become a breakfast favorite that’s also easy to enjoy at any other time of day. This recipe shows you how to make delicious egg and avocado toast in four different ways: scrambled, fried, poached, and boiled.
However you like your eggs, there's an avocado toast recipe for you and your way of eating. The only seasonings you need for all four of these recipes are sea salt and cracked black pepper.
17. Breakfast cookies
Cookies for breakfast? We're in when they're this healthy. These little gems are made with rolled oats, walnuts, shredded coconut, cranberries, natural peanut butter, and bananas. Roll in some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate chunks and honey, and you've got some seriously healthy cookies.
You can use dairy milk for these cookies, or you can also substitute oat milk or almond milk. Cinnamon and vanilla add the earthy flavors.
Reach your health goals
Eating a healthy breakfast every day is a long-term commitment and investment in your health. With these easy recipes, you can enjoy variety and flavor that fits into your busy schedule. To track and earn rewards for your healthy habits, download our app to learn more.