7 secrets to a healthy breakfast

Breakfast – the most important meal of the day?

To be honest I think it’s a little unfair to show favouritism between my meals. But as someone who worked in product development for a multi-national cereal giant I’ve spent a serious amount of time thinking about breakfast.

This week I thought I’d share with you my 7 secrets to a healthy breakfast.

i. Make it yourself.
The benefit of making your own breakfast is that you can tweak things so they’re exactly how you’d like them to be. It also means you know what’s in it so there are no hidden nasties. It always surprises me the amount of extra fat added to commercial granola – I much prefer to keep it lean like my recipe below.

The other benefit is that it keeps costs down. This way you only pay for the ingredients and not for the profit margins that big companies command.

ii. Prepare in advance.
I make my museli every few months. This means that as long as I remember to buy yoghurt I always have a healthy breakfast standing by.

If I’m going to be particularly short on time in the morning, I pop my muesli and yoghurt in a container the night before. Then it only takes a second in the morning for a healthy breakfast on the go.

iii. Choose wholegrains.
Wholegrains have received a lot attention in recent years. If you’re new to the concept you can learn more HERE. It just makes sense that grains closer to their natural form, rather than highly processed, are better for us.

iv. Add extra fibre.
I’m a firm believer that fibre should be your friend. I like to spike my muesli with oat bran which is high in insoluble fibre which is important for digestive health. It is also one of the best sources of soluble fibre which has been linked to heart health by reducing cholesterol.

v. Have an avo’.
For those of you not familiar with Australian slang, I’m talking about avocado. One of my all time favourite breakfasts is sourdough toast spread thickly with avocado and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

vi. Use fruit for natural sweetness.
Jam is one of my favourite things. Rather than have it with toast I’ve found it makes a lovely addition to my museli and yoghurt. But if all that sugar is too much for you, play around with fresh fruit. Banana and blueberries are some of my breakfast favourites.

vii. Yoghurt.
These days we are spoiled for choice when it comes to yoghurt – my Dad has even recently discovered a lactose free version which works with his allergies.

I like to go with a full fat natural yoghurt because it tastes better and keeps me feeling fuller for longer. Whatever you choose, yoghurt is a great way to get beneficial bacteria into your gut.

What are your favourite healthy breakfast options? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear.

home made granola

I like to be generous with the amount of nuts in my granola since I usually just use it as a sprinkle for the top of my yoghurt. Feel free to dial down the nuts.

Make sure you use real whole oats (not quick) so you get lovely whole grains of toasted oats. Double this recipe if you have an extra oven tray handy.

The trick to making granola is knowing when it’s done. Use the colour as a guide but be sure and taste some when it has cooled down to make sure it’s crunchy. Warm oats won’t be crunchy even if they’re completely cooked.

1C honey or golden syrup
7C (750g or 1 1/2lb) traditional or steel cut rolled oats.
2C (300g or 2oz) whole almonds

Preheat oven to 150C. Place honey or golden syrup in an oven tray and heat for about 5 minutes, or until it is nice and runny.

Stir through oats and almonds until everything is evenly coated in the honey. Bake for approximately 1 hour, stirring ever 15 minutes or so until the oats and almonds are golden brown.

Allow to cool and taste to ensure it is nice and crunchy – if not return to the oven for a while longer.

Will keep for a few months in an air tight container.

home made natural muesli

This is more of a list of ingredient than an actual recipe. Feel free to add in or subtract depending on personal preferences and availability.

There are two things that make the biggest impact on muesli shelf life. First are nuts – their high fat level means they are prone to rancidity.

The second watch out is moisture transfer from dried fruit to the oats. This means your fruit goes hard. Things with a skin like dried cranberries, sultanas or raisins tend to keep soft. As much as I love juicy prunes, they dry out in muesli.

rolled oats (steel cut or traditional)
oat bran
nuts (choose from macadamias, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds)
dried fruit (choose from cranberries, raisins, apricot, dates, paw paw)
sunflower seeds

Combine your chosen ingredients adding a little bit more of this and a little bit more of that until your mixture looks good.

Store in an airtight container for 3-6 months.

*Note. My Dad was telling me he was talking to a linseed farmer. Apparently they are very difficult to grow and require a whole swag of chemicals. Make sure you choose organic if you do decide to go down the linseed path.

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  • As lovely as this muesli sounds, I’ve discovered that protein in the morning is what keeps me going until lunchtime. Love toast, love cereals, love croissants but if I have them for breakfast I’m starving by mid-morning. Eggs or beans on toast is my usual weekday morning fare.

  • I usually go down the path of muesli or toast with peanut butter. And a very strong coffee! The boy and I have been experimenting lately though. Here’s some of the winners:

    – cherry kumatoes with olive tapandae on toast
    – boiled eggs, swiss cheese, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, and rye bread
    – yoghurt with pear, walnuts, and honey
    – egg flip (milk, whole egg, honey, vanilla) and banana bread

    Leftover frittata and baked beans (my dodgy pleasure) is also delicious, but I have a difficult time convincing the boy. He’s not a fan on the canned version. He’s prepared to try a home-made recipe though, so that’s next on the list.

  • wendy
    thanks for sharing – I know what you mean about protein keeping you going longer which is why I tend to go heavy on the yoghurt. I’m a big fan of eggs as well but just struggle to find time to make them mid week

    wow you guys are pretty adventurous with your breakfasts – impressed with the olive tapenade and kumatoes. always good to hear from a fellow baked bean fan… I think your boy might just be converted with my home baked beans – good luck

  • Erin, can I come to your place for breakfast?? I generally have bircher muesli, greek yoghurt with addition of dried fruits if I have them. The problem everyone else in the house has decided they love my greek yoghurt too so often the tub in near empty!

  • Thank your Dad for the linseed facts as I insist my husband has a swag load (non-organic) on top of his porridge every morning, thinking I’m doing him the world of good! Great topic and thanks for all the ideas.

  • I’ve been making my own muesli for years. If you live in Perth, pop into Kakulas Bros on William St, Northbridge (or Kakulas Sister in Fremantle) and you can pick all the bits you like, and nothing that you don’t like! I include rolled oats, rolled barley, rolled rye, rolled wheat, LSA mix, dried fruit medley/dried cranberries/goji berries, nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, bran flakes and anything else that takes my fancy. Add natural yoghurt, fresh fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup. Yummo!

  • syrup,
    I love bircher muesli as well – haven’t made it for ages though

    I passed on your thanks to my Dad and he was really tickled that someone appeciated his insights into the world of farming

    hi lee
    lovely to hear from you – double shot latte sounds good but what exactly is a White-Ox?

    thanks for the the perth tip – will keep it in mind for next time i’m in wa – love the idea of maple syrup as well

  • I’ve been doing a lot of research on this kind of thing for the new book–and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that people who do not eat breakfast on average consume an extra 220 calories during the day because of blood sugar problems and some insulin out-of-whack-ed-ness. Lovely tips on making it healthy. It’s just so important–and you made it all seem so easy.

  • Breakfast is absolutely my favourite meal of the day Jules! I’m a bircher muesli & yoghurt lover too & because of the amount of travelling I do for work, I measure a Hotel’s worth by how good (or not!) their bircher is! Our 5 sons are breakfast boys too & it breaks my heart to hear stories of some schools having to provide a bowl of cereal for students who leave home with empty tummies. Those active little bodies & brains need all the good fuel they can get to make the most of each day. Oh, I think I just accidentally channelled a b’fast cereal ad!
    Millie ^_^

  • Great post Jules! I love breakfast, but time constraints early in the morning mean I’m more likely to eat eggs or beans for lunch.
    For actual breakfast I switch between homemade bircher, homemade granola (I’ve even got a really healthy recipe) and the fallback position – vita britz, rolled oats and sultanas – all with banana, yoghurt and milk. But I’m looking to change my habits, might start eating Pho daily when I go to Vietnam!

  • i make my own bircher muesli its the best!

    and avocado, on toast (preferably sourdough like you too)
    sprinkle lemon, and top with cracked pepper – you HAVE to try this one day :)

  • chowmama – thanks for the link

    bircher is an excellent standard to measure hotel food – it’s not that easy to do good bircher. I agree it’s just so sad to think of kids missing out on breakfast

    I’m hearing you on the time constraints – love the idea of going local and eating pho in vietnam -it’s a beautiful country – have a great trip

    lovely to hear from a fellow avo fan – hadb’t thought to use lemon – love it

  • Your avo’ suggestion sits beautifully with me. I like to mash up the avocado in a plastic container and mix in flaked salt, the juice of half a lime, and a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander leaves. It’s hard to imagine something that coriander won’t enhance. The mixture keeps for several days in the fridge and is delicious on sourdough toast. Makes a great breakfast, whatever time of day you choose to eat it!

  • It looks like no one mentioned green smoothies; they’re my all-time favorite and thankfully I’ve gotten my partner to make them with me every morning. We always keep ripe,frozen fruit in the freezer, almond milk or coconut milk, apple juice coconut water, hemp protein powder, almond butter, greens, and some agave nectar. Sprinkle some shredded coconut or try tropical fruits to make you feel like you’re on vacation. Use apples, peaches, blueberries and whatever is locally in season to reduce your diet carbon footprint.

  • You espouse the virtues of making foods yourself (and I wholeheartedly agree!), so I was wondering if you’ve ever tried making your own yoghurt as well. It’s ridiculously simple, tastier than storebought in my opinion, and you get to know precisely what goes into it. Also, by volume milk is much cheaper than yoghurt so it’s quite economical. My housemate makes it by the gallon and we go through a ton of the stuff.

    The basic recipe we use can be found here: http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/?p=3731 (I’m not affiliated with that blog, I just like it). If you want a thicker, Greek-style yogurt, just strain the finished product in some cheesecloth over a bowl or sink for a bit.

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