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The following is part of an Organic Living Journey Guest Post Series now written by Mariana who has a mother’s heart and scientist’s brain.
Don’t you love life’s little surprises? Last week, we talked about getting a good, healthy start each day with breakfast. We learned breakfast is important to eat, breakfast feeds your brain, and your body is pretty sensitive to what you eat in the morning, so make it count! This week, we’re talking about recipes for a good, quick, manageable breakfast within our budget.
Seven days ago, my plan was to spend a whole week baking, cooking, experimenting and preparing some awesome kitchen-approved recipes for you to try. Six days and 8 hours ago, I injured my shoulder. This put a damper on my baking and cooking abilities. So…I wasn’t able to do as much as I had planned. Therefore, I’m tweaking this week’s plan a bit.
Today, we are going to focus on FAST breakfast ideas. We’re talking quick, [practically] no cooking or baking, grab it and go nutrition. To review, there are a few basic nutritional goals at breakfast time: good protein, carbs (whole grains, fruits, or veggies), and healthy fats. Sadly, after exhaustive research, I couldn’t find any reliable sources that recommend chocolate croissants as part of a healthy breakfast. If you have one, let me know. :)
I asked my friends to share their typical grab and go breakfasts: instant breakfast shakes, pre-packaged muffins, low fat yogurt, pop tarts, handful of trail mix, slice of leftover pizza…the usual “I’m in a rush and need to eat something, and this is better than stopping for doughnuts”. They are so busy – moms of newborns, working parents, one friend with 3 kids of her own plus an additional 120 high school seniors to teach. As I thought about the average grab and go breakfast, I found it’s pretty easy to cross one of those breakfast nutritional goals off the list, usually the carbs. However, it’s not easy to get all three. All three in one healthy little bundle? A challenge. Luckily, I happen to love a good challenge. Let’s do this.
The number one way to eat well on the go and on a budget is to plan ahead. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a grab and go breakfast? Yup. But, if you’re reading this article, it’s because you want to find a way to get more organic, natural foods in your daily life. Maybe you can’t plan ahead every day, and that’s a-ok. (See my “delicious irony” section below.) Every day makes a difference. Add in more of the “good” and eventually the “bad” will phase itself out. With that in mind, let’s look at a few quick breakfast solutions…
Peanut Butter Banana Roll Up: 2 minute prep time, packable
Whole Grain Tortilla, Almond Butter (or other nut butter, no sugar added, no hydrogenated oils), banana
Grab a tortilla, shmear some nut butter on it, and roll up a banana like a little burrito. This one is great for the kids, and they may even like to make it themselves! Technically, you’re getting a double dose of carbs (tortilla + banana).
Trying to guard your blood sugar levels? Adjust this ratio by cutting a carb or upping the protein. Need a nut-free version? Use cream cheese instead of nut butter.
Good for You Granola: make ahead in bulk, 2 hours per batch, packable
I love a good granola. The good stuff can be pricey on the shelf ($7 for 12 ounces), but making it at home is incredibly affordable, plus you get to customize it to your taste and diet preferences.
- 3 cups rolled oats, not quick-cooking
- 1-2 cups of various nuts of your choice (I love sliced or slivered almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds)
- ½ cup dried fruit (for a low-sugar option, dry unsweetened coconut)
- ¼ cup extra fiber (you can use wheat germ, but I love the additional Omega-3 boost from ground flaxseed)
- ¼ cup Grade B maple syrup, more or less to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ – ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional), or other natural extract
To make: Preheat oven to 250º. In a 9 x 13” baking dish, mix the oats, nuts, and fiber. (The dried fruit goes in at the end.) Separately, mix the maple syrup, salt, oil, and vanilla until combined. Pour liquid mixture over oat mixture and toss to coat. Bake for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Add dried fruit. Note: if you’re using flaxseed, do not bake it; add it when you add the dried fruit. The oils are better raw.
To Serve: I like my granola with milk, but it’s also a great dry snack on the go. One friend said her kids love their granola mixed in with yogurt.
Notes: Yes, you can add chocolate chips. Add the chocolate chips in after the granola has cooked and cooled.
Can’t use nuts? Leave ‘em out. Get the extra protein by serving the granola with yogurt.
Want to make it portable? Pre-portion yogurt into small containers and let kids choose their mix-ins in the morning!
Smoothie on the Move: 5 minute prep time, perishable
You can whip up a quick smoothie in just a couple minutes. Smoothies are a sneaky hiding place for extra nutrition boosts. A few of my favorite “add-ins” are: probiotic capsules (for replenishing all those healthy gut bacteria), acerola cherry powder (an all natural vitamin C boost), coconut oil, grass-fed kosher gelatin (fantastic undetectable protein), and spirulina powder (a protein-rich superfood).
You don’t have to add protein powder or shake mix to make a smoothie. An unsweetened Greek yogurt will also give you a little protein boost. Greek yogurt has twice as much protein and half the natural sugars of regular yogurt. However, I do like to keep a quality protein powder on hand. It’s an easy way to improve my protein:carb ratio when time is tight (always). [A note about protein powders: always read the labels carefully. Many protein powders contain artificial sweeteners, processed ingredients, and synthetic flavorings. Personally, I keep it simple and use one of three options: raw grass-fed whey protein, grass-fed kosher gelatin powder, or hempseed protein for a dairy-free, vegan option. All are 100% pure and have no added flavors, sweeteners, or extra “stuff”. They are available in health food stores or online. Any other protein sources you like to use?]
Leftover smoothie? Don’t toss it; freeze it! Use freezer pop molds to freeze leftover smoothies for afternoon snacks or dessert.
Need a blender bottle friendly option? Try whey protein.
Please feel free to share your favorite smoothie recipe(s) in the comments; I’m always looking for more ideas!
- 1 cup milk (or coconut or almond milk), more or less to taste
- 2 tablespoons nut butter (or a scoop of protein powder)
- 2 tablespoons cacao (raw gives you extra antioxidants)
- ½ – 1 banana (slice and freeze bananas before they brown to have a stash of smoothie bananas on hand)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- Sweetener to taste (coconut sugar, stevia, xylitol are low glycemic index options, if you want to avoid sugar naturally)
- Add-ins: coconut oil, probiotic, ground flax seed
- 1 cup milk of your choice, more or less to taste
- 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit
- ice, if using fresh fruit
- Protein: 1-2 scoops protein powder or yogurt, 1 tablespoon if you use gelatin
- Sweetener to taste
- Add-ins: 1 teaspoon acerola cherry powder, probiotics, spirulina, coconut oil.
(disclaimer: this is one scene where a high-power blender is worth it’s high-power pricetag. Blending greens can be tricky and they can end up looking like lawn mower clippings. Give this basic green smoothie recipe a try and see how it goes.)
- 1-2 cups water or coconut water (varies by blender strength, add more if needed)
- 1 banana
- 1-2 handfuls of raw baby spinach
- ½ cup frozen berries
- ½ cucumber
- ½ – 1 rib of celery
- (optional) sweetener to taste
- Add-ins: If you have to cut back on the veg because of your blender, supplement your green smoothie with spirulina for some super nutrient and antioxidant perks! I also like to add ½ – 1 whole avocado in my green smoothie. I like the creamy texture it adds, and I’ll use it in place of banana quite often.
Atom’s Instant Smoothie Mix: (my son’s favorite!) This powdered mix can be used to make a tasty no-blender breakfast shake.
- 6 scoops unflavored whey protein
- about 1-2 tablespoons sweetener or to taste (organic sugar, coconut sugar, xylitol, or use 1.5 teaspoons stevia)
- Chocolate: ¼ cup cocoa powder
- Coffee: 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- Peanut Butter: 1 tablespoon powdered peanut butter
- Pumpkin Spice: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, 1 pinch ground cloves
- Fruit: ¼-½ cup freeze dried fruit (not regular dried fruit)
To Make: In a blender or food processor combine all ingredients and process until it’s a uniform powder. Store in an airtight container to use as needed. Mix 1-2 scoops of your custom mix with 1 cup cold milk. Blender bottles work great on the go.
Make it fun for the kids: have your child design a custom blend and store in small jelly jars. Get creative with label and branding ideas.
Make and Freeze Muffins: 45 minute make ahead prep time, freezable, packable
My brilliant college roommate is a freezer muffin advocate. She bakes several batches of muffins at one time, freezes them, and reheats as needed. With a little planning ahead, these are a super-quick option once you have them on hand. Even better, you can make the base recipe in bulk and change the mix-ins to make many different flavors of muffins, all from the same base.
The challenge with muffins is getting a decent protein:carb ratio. I’ve never run the math to see just how much protein I sneak into one of these muffins, but every little bit helps. If you’re concerned about getting enough protein in this recipe, don’t sweat it. Plan on serving this with some quick proteins like greek yogurt, cheese slices, or hard boiled eggs.
- 1 ¼ cups whole grain flour
- ¼ cup protein powder (optional, use flour as a substitution)
- ½ cup almond flour*
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ cup organic sugar, sucanat, or coconut palm sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- ½ cup coconut oil (or olive oil)
- ½ cup – 1 cup Mix Ins: you can add chocolate chips, blueberries, nuts, coconut, raisins, apples, etc.
*Don’t have almond flour on hand? No problem. You can substitute with ½ cup whole grain flour.
Note: our house favorite is the chocolate chocolate muffin. I substitute ¼ cup cocoa powder in place of ¼ cup of flour and add a little bit extra sweetener. For extra fiber, I also add ¼ cup dried, shredded coconut (which practically disappears during baking) and/or ground flaxseed. Don’t tell my kids, but I only use about ¼ cup of mini chocolate chips in the whole batch. I mix just a few into the batter and sprinkle the rest on the tops of the muffins. The end result looks a lot more decadent than it really is.
To Make: Bake in a prepared muffin tin in a preheated oven at 350º for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool before freezing.
Buffalo Chicken Egg Puffs: 45 minute prep time, perishable, high protein
My body craves protein in the morning, and I don’t eat wheat, so these crustless quiches really hit the spot. You can bake a big batch and reheat as needed for a few days. These little egg muffins are a great fridge cleaner: grab leftover meats and veggies to use in your recipe.
- 6-8 eggs
- ½ teaspoon real salt (or to taste)
- ½ cup chopped veg (I use whatever’s on hand: onions, bell peppers, spinach, green onions, chives, leftover cooked veggies…etc)
- ¼ cup shredded cheese, optional (I like the flavor of cheddar, monterrey jack, or pepper jack cheese best for this recipe.)
- ½ cup cooked chicken (or other meat), chopped up or shredded into small bite-sized pieces – I usually use leftovers, rotisserie chicken, bbq pork, etc.
- ¼ cup hot sauce
- ¼ cup butter or coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder, or 1 clove minced fresh garlic
To Make: Preheat oven to 425º. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt. Add the chopped vegetables, and cheese. In a separate bowl, melt the butter/coconut oil. Add the hot sauce and garlic to create a buffalo sauce. Add the chicken and coat it with the sauce. In a prepared muffin pan, fill about ½ way with egg mixture and add 1-2 tablespoons of the meat mixture. Top with any leftover sauce. Bake until egg is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
This morning, I learned an ironic lesson in planning ahead. I stayed up way too late last night, writing this article about healthy and quick breakfasts. I was running behind schedule this morning (more than usual), drove the kids to school for chicken biscuit fundraiser day, intending to feed the kids breakfast at the school. They were sold out of chicken biscuits. We had 8 minutes before school started, so my kids had a vending machine breakfast. I think I may need to keep a few containers of granola in the car, just in case this happens again!
We’re going to begin looking into the differences between juicing and smoothies. Is one better than the other? What’s the deal with the $400 blenders? Is fresh juice better than bottled? So many questions, so much fun! What do you want to know about this topic?