My last post was all about sugar — our obsession with it, how it’s negatively affecting our brains and bodies, and how to kick your sugar addiction by completely eliminating or reducing your processed sugar intake.
I started that post out with a look at American eating habits, particularly around breakfast. As you might imagine, the outcome was not good. We love processed carbs and sugar for breakfast because those things are quick, easy, convenient to grab on the go, and they taste “great” because that sugar lights up our dopamine receptors like a Christmas tree.
If you want to know more on that, then check out that last post. Now, as I promised, I am going to share some healthy breakfast alternatives to the conventional standard American diet that are processed/added sugar free, yummy, and more importantly nourishing!
Ideally, you want something that is low-glycemic and doesn’t spike blood sugar levels so drastically first thing in the morning.
Some options require more prep time and could be great weekend breakfast or brunch ideas, but I also wanted to include some easy breakfast ideas for those that are on-the-go. I know I don’t have a lot of time in the morning to prepare an extravagant meal, so convenience combined with health is key.
When I think about a perfectly balanced breakfast it’s a veggie omelette. Why? because it’s protein packed (because eggs), and full of nutrient-dense veggies like spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, herbs, garlic and onion if you can tolerate them (I can’t with my IBS), all kinds of peppers, tomatoes, avocado, etc. The beauty of it too is that you can customize it any way you want and can whip it up pretty fast.
To work some healthy fats into the dish, use a generous amount of coconut or avocado oil, ghee (which is clarified butter with the milk solids removed so it’s fine for people with a dairy intolerance), or top with some avocado slices. I’d recommend skipping cheese as dairy can be irritating to the gut and can cause your skin to breakout, but you could opt for some goat or sheep’s cheese because they are much easier to digest than cheese made from cow’s milk.
You could add additional protein like high quality bacon, chicken or sausage, however, make sure it’s sourced properly, organic and pasture raised.
If you typically workout in the morning then this is going to be the perfect meal for feeding your muscles and for optimum recovery. It is true that complex carbohydrates are good post-workout, so if you wanted to toss some sweet potato into your omelette that would be fine but don’t overdo it. Surprisingly sweet potatoes rank fairly low/moderate on the glycemic index chart, but only if they are boiled and not baked. Plus, sweet potatoes are full of antioxidants, vitamin A and beta-carotene. However, if you’re following a keto diet, skip this root veggie.
Also, don’t overthink it. If an omelette is too much to prep in the mornings, opt for some hardboiled eggs that you can make ahead of time, or even some scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach and veggies.
Back in my early Paleo days I was obsessed with chia seed pudding. And for good reasoning. Chia seeds are a superfood — full of nutrients and vitamins like calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, niacin (vitamin B3), potassium, vitamin B1, omega 3, and fiber and are very low carb. In fact, if you are familiar with or following a low carb ketogenic diet, you’ll be pleased to know that these are zero grams net carbs, which you determine by subtracting the grams of fiber from the grams of carbs.
A one-ounce (28 grams, or 2 tablespoons) serving of chia seeds contains 10 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (5 of which are omega 3s).
These are best if prepared overnight or have been able to sit for at least 30 minutes because the chia seeds absorb liquids and become a viscous and “plump” gel the longer they soak. Otherwise, it’ll be crunchy and nothing like “pudding.” There are plenty of recipes out there for chia pudding, and I’ve been using some version of this recipe from the Minimalist Baker for years.
I like to use full fat coconut milk or homemade cashew milk with vanilla extract and sea salt because it naturally sweetens the pudding without having to add a lot of additional maple syrup or honey. You can use raw cacao, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, a variety of nuts (raw is preferred and if doing roasted, opt for unsalted or lightly salted and make sure the oil used for roasting is a clean and non-vegetable oil like canola), and most importantly fresh berries — strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries — as those are lower in carbohydrates/sugars and do not spike insulin levels (in moderation).
Basically, you mix about 1/3 cup of chia seeds with 1 1/2 cups of your preferred liquid like coconut milk, cashew, almond or some other nut milk. If you want to add cacao, stir in 1/4 cup. Then add in rest of desired toppings, mix until evenly combined, and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes (or overnight, which is best). That will make about 4 servings and should last a few days in the fridge.
The result here is you get a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb breakfast that if prepared ahead of the time is super simple to eat during your morning routine or grab and take with you. The berries will also add a natural sweetness if you let them soak in the pudding overnight. Most recipes will call for maple syrup or honey so you’ll want to skip this to keep it low sugar. A touch of maple syrup would be OK as it’s more low glycemic index than honey, but you could use some stevia leaf or monk fruit as a sweetener alternative!
Listen up. If you haven’t tried keto (or the more popularly known Bulletproof) coffee, you are missing out. I’ve been making the below keto coffee recipe every morning for about a month and it’s been amazing. It jump starts my metabolism, is full of healthy fats, proteins and almost no carbs, is quick/easy to make, and keeps me full until about 12 or 1 pm. This is also a good way to ease into intermittent fasting if skipping breakfast altogether sounds scary.
Keto Coffee Recipe
Again, there are tons of ways to customize it, but in general you want some form of coffee – concentrated/espresso or cold brew, hot water, MCT oil (stands for medium chain triglycerides and is derived from coconuts. It’s more bioavailable than traditional cold-pressed coconut oil and it does not solidify in cold temps), ghee, sea salt and nut milk. You can add in cacao powder, coconut butter, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, collagen peptides, beef gelatin, etc. You can read up on the benefits of collagen and bone broth protein in this post I wrote a while back.
Also, you could totally make this without the coffee if you are caffeine free, and just double the cacao for a “mocha” keto drink. Bulletproof coffee typically relies on heavy cream or full fat milk, so I don’t suggest that for most people, but if you want dairy, you can make it that way.
Our bodies need fat to survive and to function properly and it is so crucial for energy production — the good fats that is, not trans fats that come in processed foods and hydrogenated vegetable oils like canola. I’m talking fats from wild caught salmon, avocados, eggs, coconut, ghee, animal fats, etc. So don’t fear the fat!
These coconut flour pancakes will change your life. I’ve been following this Paleo Hacks recipe for about 4-5 years and it’s a real crowd pleaser, even amongst my non-paleo, keto or health conscious friends. They do call for eggs so are not vegan, but the coconut flower is very low carb and is of course grain-free. It uses coconut milk, and coconut oil, too so you’re loading up on all the healthy fats!
Instead of using maple syrup or honey with these pancakes, I like to slather them with coconut yogurt, almond or some other nut butter, and melt 100 percent raw cacao chips (from Santa Barbara Chocolates) on top. I also love to add fresh berries, raw coconut flakes and nuts/seeds. You could also top with some warmed canned pumpkin puree for a holiday spin and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.
This won’t necessarily be keto-friendly or low carb but oats are considered low glycemic and won’t spike your blood sugar. Overnight oats are so easy to make. It’s quite similar to chia seed pudding but with oats instead. You typically mix together 1/2 cup rolled oats with 1 cup of nut milk. I use my homemade cashew milk which has vanilla extract and sea salt.
Then add desired toppings like cacao, fresh berries, buts, even could do some powdered peanut or almond butter powder which will make it extra creamy and decadent. You’ll need to prepare this ahead of time as well, so best to make it in the evening and sit overnight in the fridge. You could also sweeten with stevia or monk fruit as a substitute for honey/maple syrup.
Another quick, easy and nutrition-packed breakfast is a green smoothie. There are a ton of recipes out there, but the thing to remember with a smoothie is to keep it SIMPLE. Less ingredients is more here. I used to create “everything but the kitchen sink” smoothies with 12-15 ingredients and after eating it I would always feel sick, bloated, gassy, burpy and that feeling would last for a long time. That’s because my body was having trouble digesting that amount of food at one time. It’s the same as going to a buffet and loading up your plate with 12-15 different items. You’re going to feel overly full and sick afterwards.
I like to use 1 cup nut milk, some leafy greens like spinach or kale, half an avocado, raw cacao powder, maca powder, a scoop of nut butter, MCT oil and ice cubes. You could add a hemp or bone broth protein powder if you wanted. Pro tip: If you freeze your avocados then you could even skip the ice, and the result is a creamier, thicker smoothie.
This smoothie has healthy fats, some greens, antioxidants from the cacao, and is also low carb and low sugar, without any added sweeteners.