If you live a traditional lifestyle, such that you go to school or work early in the day, it is ideal to have breakfast. Many health experts in fact, will consider breakfast as the most important meal of the day. As the name suggests, breakfast “breaks our fast”, which we undergo naturally during the sleeping hours each night. When we wake up in the morning and require fuel for a full day of mental and/or physical work, this is where breakfast can provide the right fuel and nutrition. The only exception to this will really only be for those who are already applying advanced nutritional practices of fasting and choose to prolong their fast for various physical healing or spiritual progression, etc.
Therefore, after the natural fast of the night, during which our body is focused on healing, repair, cleansing and detoxification, we will typically have a meal to stimulate our metabolism and digestive system back into action, and gain the needed energy from external food sources.
Healthiest Breakfast Options
The best way to break our night fast is gently. This means that we do not want to assault our body with hard to digest foods, foods high in fat, such as is the case with animal products, or foods that have been fried or heavily processed. Instead, we want to give our body foods that are rich in nutrients and rich its optimal fuel: carbohydrates, of course unrefined ones that is. This means predominantly focusing on whole, carbohydrate-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. While some people will therefore enjoy a simple fruit bowl for breakfast or a green smoothie, others will find that a breakfast which includes grains will be the way to go for them.
Given what I just shared above, I will reiterate that going with grains as part of your breakfast, does not mean pulling out a box of cereal or typical bread. Such items are made of grains that have been heavily processed and refined with loads of added sugars, oils, preservatives and other unfavorable items. This is in no way is an optimally healthy breakfast or meal for any time of the day. What we want are real grains and their health and nutrition benefits.
Whole, Real Grain Benefits
Whole, real, fully unprocessed or minimally processed grains can be very beneficial to our health. Here is just a short summary of some of the ways that they can support our health and wellbeing:
- Gains are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates (Our body’s main fuel!); about 80 - 85% of their composition is carbohydrates
- Grains are an excellent source of fiber
- Grains are an excellent source of protein for human needs; about 10 - 15% of their composition is protein
- Grains are naturally low in fat; about 10 - 15% of their composition is fat
- Grains are a source of healthy fatty acids; mostly unsaturated fatty acids
- Grains are rich in B vitamins; some are also rich in vitamin E
- Grains are an excellent source of minerals, including iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, molybdenum
- Grains are naturally cholesterol-free and trans-fat free
- Grains are naturally low in sodium
- Grains provide good satiety and energy
- Grains taste great, are easy to prepare and can be incorporated into numerous meal ideas
Let’s Make a Whole Grain Breakfast Bowl
To help you put the goodness of real, whole grains into action as part of your breakfast, below I will share with you 6 amazing whole grains that make a delicious and healthy breakfast option. Aside from their many benefits, they are also extremely suitable for the whole family – this includes anyone from the age of 2 to 102!
The grains I will share with you are all from Bob’s Red Mill, which is my most favorite grain supplier due to their wholesome and quality products. (Please note that this is a personal recommendation and I have no direct affiliation with this company.) It is possible to get some of these grains from other sources, but ever since I discovered Bob’s Red Mill products in the early part of 2008, I have been using them exclusively, as I am so pleased with their products. They are minimally processed, abundantly available in organic varieties, well priced and widely available at pretty much every grocery, health food, and online store throughout North America.
Unfortunately a lot of people never even consider these fantastic whole grain options, despite knowing their many health benefits, because of apprehensions about the time it may take to prepare them. After all, nothing can compete with opening a box of cereal and pouring it right into your bowl. While this can be a valid concern, especially given that all too many of us today live insanely busy lives and regularly stress about meal preparation time, with just a little prep and planning you can easily enjoy these grains too. The first thing I recommend is to assess your lifestyle and see how you can re-prioritize some tasks so that you have regular time for healthy meal preparation. Just think about how much time gets wasted on social media, watching television or shopping today, which could be spent elsewhere. Secondly, know that you can have these outstanding whole cooked grains in as little as a few minutes. It all depends on which grain you choose. You just need to make a commitment to prioritize healthy, homemade meals and include this as part of our daily life.
When it comes to these 6 optimally healthy breakfast grain options, the good news is that they are suitable for everyone’s schedule, as they cook in as little as 2 to 20 minutes. Below, I will list them for you from the least to the most time that it takes to prepare them.
Cooking Time: 2 minutes
Ingredients: Organic Oat Bran
Taste & Texture: Mild and very smooth consistency
Especially recommend for: weekdays and busy mornings; toddlers and kids
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/3 cup) Calories: 120 Fat: 2g (Saturated 0.5g, Trans 0g) Carbohydrates: 21g (Sugar 1g) Protein: 5g Fiber: 5g
Cooking Time: 3 – 5 minutes
Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats, Wheat, Rye, Triticale, Barley, Date Crumbles, Raisins, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Flaxseed and Walnuts
Taste & Texture: Very delicately sweet and variable, chewy texture
Especially recommend for: weekdays and busy mornings, older kids, teens
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/2 cup) Calories: 220 Fat: 6g (Saturated 0g, Trans 0g) Carbohydrates: 40g (Sugar 10g) Protein: 8g Fiber: 8g
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients: Organic Whole Kamut Grain
Taste & Texture: Mildly sweet and buttery, smooth texture
Especially recommend for: moderately busy mornings; toddlers, kids
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/4 cup) Calories: 130 Fat: 1g (Saturated 0g, Trans 0g) Carbohydrates: 26g (Sugar 0g) Protein: 5g Fiber: 4g
Cooking Time: 10 – 20 minutes (depending on desired consistency)
Ingredients: Organic Whole Grain Oats
Taste & Texture: Mild and moderately chewy
Especially recommend for: weekends, leisure mornings; kids, teens, adults
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/2 cup) Calories: 160 Fat: 2.5g (Saturated 0.5g, Trans 0g) Carbohydrates: 27g (Sugar 1g) Protein: 7g Fiber: 4g
Cooking Time: 10 – 20 minutes (depending on desired consistency)
Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats
Taste & Texture: Mild and very chewy
Especially recommend for: weekends, leisure mornings; teens, adults
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/4 cup) Calories: 140 Fat: 2.5g (Saturated 0.5g, Trans 0g) Carbohydrates: 27g (Sugar 0g) Protein: 6g Fiber: 4g
Cooking Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Ingredients: Whole Grain Teff
Taste & Texture: Mildly sweet and smooth consistency
Especially recommend for: weekends, leisure mornings; whole family
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/4 cup) Calories: 160 Fat: 1g (Saturated 0g, Trans 0g) Carbohydrates: 33g (Sugar 0g) Protein: 6g Fiber: 6g
Finishing Touches for Your Whole Grain Breakfast Bowl
All of the above meals are perfect for everyone who is health conscious, including vegetarians or vegans. All of the bowls are simply prepared with water, so there is no non-dairy milk even needed. Of course you can add some if you wish, but that can add an unnecessary processed food, unless you make your own. Naturally, we would never be adding any animal milk, like cow or goat.
However we do want to turn each bowl into a more nutritionally balanced meal, so that we are not just eating the grain. As nice as they taste on their own, that would not prove to be a very pleasant experience for most of us. Plus, we want to include some added nutritional variety that will help to bring out the best of these grain bowls, both in health and nutrition benefits, as well as enrich them with a variety of natural colors, flavors and textures.
Here are optimally healthy additions that you can pick from to add as you would most enjoy to any of the above bowls:
- a handful (about 1/4 cup or 2 TBSP) of any raw nut (i.e. almond, cashew, walnut, pecan)
- a handful (about 1/4 cup or 2 TBSP) of any raw seed (i.e. sunflower, hemp, sesame, pumpkin)
- fresh fruit (any that you enjoy)
- dried fruit (i.e. raisins, dates, goji berries, apricots, figs)
- cinnamon (powerful antioxidant and blood-sugar stabilizer)
- 1 - 2 TBSP raw organic cacao nibs (powerful antioxidant and a touch of chocolate)
- 1 - 2 TBSP organic unsweetened coconut flakes (increases healthy fats; especially great addition for growing kids)
- a few drops of natural organic vanilla
In addition, to optimize the acid-base pH balance, it is recommended that you do consider including a small serving of a green smoothie with your grain bowl, especially if you have a big appetite. Simply blend some leafy greens with a fruit or two, and water. Here is one of my favorite combinations: Pineapple Kale Smoothie)
Here are a few ideas of how your breakfast grain bowls can look like:
Enjoy, and to your best health!