Let me start off by saying that breakfast IS in fact the most important meal of the day. Too often people think there isn't enough time early in the morning to prepare a healthy, satisfying breakfast. If you think about it though, the choices you make first thing in the morning are really going to set the tone for the rest of your day. It's easy to avoid all those unwanted cravings and hungry horrors late at night by doing something as simple as eating breakfast. Today's post is inspired by a lovely co-worker who is in search of some energy-boosting breakfast ideas.
First things first- one thing I highly suggest is drinking a nice big glass of ice water in the morning before you've had anything to eat. Sip away while you make breakfast. Drinking water on an empty stomach purifies the colon and makes for easier nutrient absorption. While I'm on this rant, I'll riddle off some other notable benefits of drinking water in the morning. Just 16 oz. of chilled water in the morning will actually boost your metabolism by 24% and aids in weight loss. It increases the production of new blood and muscle cells and purges toxins from the blood, which keeps your skin radiant and glowing. It also helps balance your lymph system, which is tremendously important as these glands are responsible for helping you perform your daily functions, balancing your body fluids, and fighting infection.
If you're looking for a drink to accompany your breakfast foods in the morning, my best advice and honest opinion is not to reach for the juice. I always have coconut water with my breakfast. It's THE natural energy drink and loaded with electrolytes. Learn more about coconut water and its benefits from a previous blog post HERE.
Now onto the energy-boosting breakfast ideas. You always want your breakfasts to be high in protein because without it, you'll be running on empty a couple hours into your day.
Omelets- eggs are high in protein, but be sure to include the yolk as it contains several important nutrients including vitamin A and zinc, which support immune health and tissue growth. Sure, you can have your eggs scrambled- BUT, omelets are more fun because you add other yummy stuff to the eggs. Note that leafy greens are energy boosting. A yummy omelet to consider (I had this prior to learning of my sensitivities) would be a spinach, tomato, and feta cheese omelet. Whenever I have an omelet, I have fruit on the side. I like to have bananas in the morning because they're high in potassium, which is an electrolyte. Spinach also contains a lot of potassium. Other ideas for veggies in omelets that I enjoy include zucchini, summer squash, onions, and organic mozzarella.
Yogurt, fruit & nut bowl- Yogurt is also very high in protein and potassium. I like to add some raw, local honey, pure vanilla extract, and a dash of cinnamon to plain, organic yogurt for flavor. Greek yogurt will keep you feeling fuller for longer if you're not a texture-sensitive person. Chop up a banana, some blueberries, cherries, organic (because they're the dirtiest fruit) strawberries, or whatever fruits you enjoy and toss them in the bowl. I almost always add blueberries to my bowl. Bluebz are rich in antioxidants and fiber, low-glycemic, and support immune health and lower cholesterol.
Add raw/lightly salted almonds or walnuts for added protein. If you make a big enough bowl it's VERY filling. This is often my go-to breakfast. If I make a smaller bowl, I might have a rice cake with sunflower butter or almond butter, too.
Nut butters are a great way to go in the morning or even as a late-morning snack for protein, energy, and to keep your blood sugar stabilized. One thing I have learned, believe this or not, is that peanut butter contains aflatoxin, which is a fungus that has been linked to cancer. Yes, peanut butter is a moldy nut butter. If you're gonna go the nut butter route, almond or sunflower butter are my recommendations. If you need your peanut butter, buy it organic and keep it IN THE FRIDGE.
Steel-cut oatmeal- high in protein and complex carbs, which give us vitamins and minerals that keep us feeling fuller for a longer period of time. Complex carbs provide glucose- our body's main source of energy! I haven't had steel-cut oats in months since I'm sensitive to oat, but when I used to make steel-cut oatmeal, I'd cook some apples in a pot on the stove and add a bit of cinnamon for flavor. Then I would add in the water and oats. Before I learned of my sensitivities, I would add raisins to the mix as well, which was really yummy. Once the oats were cooked, I'd drizzle 100% pure maple syrup for added flavor and chopped walnuts for added protein and crunch. This breakfast would always hold me over and keep me satisfied. You can always add other cut up fruit on top, too. Blueberries go well with all the ingredients I mentioned above!
Breakfast smoothies- The classic go-to. I use NutriBiotic rice protein powder, which is vegan and 80% protein. I add in a variety of different fruits, liquid drops of stevia (100% natural sweetener), yogurt for added protein, coconut oil because it's GREAT for you, and almond milk. Coconut oil supports digestive health and nutrient absorption. It also speeds up your metabolism, which is a bonus! I won't get off on my coconut oil tangent though because the benefits are honestly never-ending. If you're anything like me, you'll want to bite into something in the morning. Something other than a straw. I like to have a rice cake with some nut butter on it when I have a smoothie, as well.
Another smoothie I'm a fan of is the banana and nut butter smoothie with chocolate rice protein powder!
Of course there's always the green smoothie, which when mentioned, will make some of us shutter and dry-heave. BUT as I said before, leafy greens are known for their energy-boosting properties. Please know that when you cook the leafy greens (like you would with spinach in an omelet) you're not reaping the nutritional benefits of the greens that you would be if you ate them raw. No one necessarily likes to prepare a spinach salad for breakfast and understandably so. The solution- a raw green smoothie.
Benefits of leafy greens, even if it means a green smoothie:
Supports digestive health
Benefits depending on the fruits you add to your green smoothie:
Great doses of vitamins A, C, E, and K
Great doses of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium
High fiber content prolongs energizing effects
Fights against aging and disease (Steckler, 2013).
I've never prepared my own green smoothie so I don't have recipe suggestions based on what tickles my own palate. Here are some websites I found with different recipe ideas. If anyone knows of some good green smoothie recipes, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll share them! :)
Fruit & green smoothie recipes
Simple green smoothies
Yummy Mummy Kitchen- "best green smoothie recipe"
5 delicious green smoothies for beginners
...Just some ideas :) Also, I take no responsibility for whatever kind of weird shit happens in your blender.
SEEDS, SEEDS, SEEDS- Nuts and seeds add great texture and flavor. Seeds such as flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds give us those omega-3's and monounsaturated fats we need for good heart health, as well as vitamin E and protein. My favorite seeds to add to just about anything are chia seeds! Many of you may be familiar with them. They're easier to digest than flaxseeds and have a long list of benefits. Please note that the maximum amount of chia seeds you should have in a day is 1 oz.
*Help weight loss
*Reduce food cravings
*Regulate appetite, sleep, and mood
*Feel fuller faster & longer- they absorb 10 times their weight in water forming a bulky gel, which slows down the digestive process. This gel is also hydrating.
*Slow down how fast our bodies convert carbs into simple sugars, thus controlling blood sugar. *Beneficial for diabetics.*
*Great source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium
One source explained that when shopping for chia seeds, quality is obviously important. Black and white seeds are solid choices. Avoid red chia seeds, which are immature chia seeds and small black seeds that are visibly smaller than regular black chia seeds.
Check out this awesome source HERE and learn more about the benefits of chia seeds.
To conclude, always eat breakfast. Also NEVER reach for those GOD AWFUL meal replacement bars. They're LOADED with all kinds of chemicals and preservatives. If you want REAL energy, eat real food. Don't get me wrong, there was a point in my life where meal replacement bar was my middle name. It got me nowhere and based on what I know now, the thought of them is nauseating. I'll probably have to do an entirely separate blog post on that shit now that I think about it.
Another important thing to consider is making sure you have an energy-stabilizing snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Also check out my blog post on L-Glutamine supplements HERE and learn about the benefits this amino acid has to offer in terms of boosting your energy and stabilizing your blood sugar!
*If anyone has other ideas for energy-boosting breakfasts please feel free to comment on this post and share them! :)
Steckler, Joshua. "Green smoothies provide health benefits, energy boost." Daily Herald . N.p., 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 1 Aug. 2013. <http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130318/entlife/703189983/>.
I wanted to post a little bit more information on the L-Glutamine supplement I started taking. While it has helped me tremendously and has so many outrageously great benefits, always be sure to consult your PCP about whether this supplement is right for you. [How commercially sounding of me...]
Some of the many benefits this amino acid has to offer include:
* Major energy source
* Improves brain functioning
* Stabilizes blood sugar (huge help for me)
* Reduces alcohol cravings
* Maintains the health and functioning of lining of the gut
* Supports muscle function
* Boosts metabolism
* Enhances exercise performance
* Helps with wound healing
* Helps maintain acid alkaline balance
* Protects normal cells from chemotherapy in cancer patients
* Some studies have even shown that it helps to prevent kidney stones! (A plus for me)
Additionally, L-Glutamine helps with the following health conditions:
* Crohn's Disease
* Ulcerative Colitis
(Slagle, The Way Up Newsletter)
Check out the links below for more information on this dietary supplement.
Uses and benefits
The other dietary supplement I'm currently taking is Vessel Care made by Metagenics.
I began taking this supplement after receiving my nutrient level lab results. Not to my surprise, I was on the verge of being iron, B12, and vitamin D deficient. My folic acid number was through the ground and all my other levels were extremely low, too. This explains why I felt like an emotional zombie all day long.
This supplement helps with the absorption of B12 and folate. It also helps with cardiovascular function and supports healthy Methylation and Homocysteine levels.
I'm also taking Arctic Cod Liver Oil soft gels. I'm using the Nordic Naturals brand, which is a well-known, reliable brand. Brand, or quality, is extremely important when looking at dietary supplements. I chose the soft gels because apparently some say the oil tastes foul. I'd rather not find out for myself. =P
Some of the benefits of taking Arctic Cod Liver Oil include:
* It contains anti-inflammatory properties
* Soothes aches and pains caused by arthritis
* Reduces stress
* Reduce allergic reactions
* Helps with PMS and mood swings
* Improves brain function
* Improves eyesight, skin, and nervous system (Vitamin A)
* Helps maintain skeletal health (Vitamin D) and ensures proper calcium levels in the blood (super important for those like me who get kidney stones)
* Assists those at risk for Alzheimer's disease
* Helps those with ADHD, Psoriasis, high cholesterol, and heart disease
* Greatly reduces the risk of children getting Type 1 diabetes
* Reduces the levels of "bad" cholesterol while increasing the levels of "good" cholesterol in your body
* Supports blood sugar stability
(MD-health.com, Cod Liver Oil Benefits)
...Again, always check with your PCP before looking into taking any dietary supplements. What's right for one person is not necessarily right for another. If you think you may be able to benefit from any of these supplements, consult a professional first.
"Cod Liver Oil Benefits." MD-Health.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.md-health.com/Cod-Liver-Oil-Benefits.html>.
Slagle, Priscilla. "Benefits of the Amino Acid L-Glutamine." The Way Up Newsletter. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.thewayup.com/newsletters/041501.htm>.